Dear ISTA Volunteers, Members, and Community

Dear ISTA Volunteers, Members, and Community,

With the new year quickly approaching I’d like to thank everyone for, yet again, pushing ISTA to new heights in 2017.  Volunteers are the fuel that power an association.  Whether it be involvement in short-term projects or serving on a council, committee, or board, it is the involvement of volunteer groups that continue to drive our efforts.  Every new volunteer positively impacts ISTA through diversification of thought, skill, and experience leaving the association more energized and better equipped to reach our common goal of optimizing packaged-products for distribution.
In our continued pursuit of this goal it’s important for us, as a packaging community, to continually remind ourselves, and more importantly, others, of the key role packaging plays in society.  As most in our packaging world know, the value of packaging is often overlooked by consumers, non-packaging colleagues, or even viewed as a nuisance by society in general, but it’s positive impact cannot be ignored.  It enables commerce.  It enables healthcare.  It enables food supply. The list goes on.  Without packaging, our society simply could not exist as we know it.  As voiced quite simply in the past, “packaging matters”. 
And because packaging matters there is growing importance and responsibility we carry as packaging professionals regarding society and the environment.  ISTA’s Responsible Packaging by Design Guide notes that "effective packaging makes a positive contribution to achieving a more sustainable economy and global society.  Waste in the distribution system including product damage is counter-productive: in general, the environmental impact of manufacturing a product is far more significant than the impact of its packaging. Nonetheless, it is not acceptable to use packaging materials in excess just to achieve product containment and protection. The production, use and end-of-life disposition of packaging and packaging materials consume resources and energy and produce environmental impacts.  Along with the standard functions that packaging must serve, these impacts should be considered in the responsible packaging design process. The goal of responsible package design is a careful balance between the amount of packaging used and protection of the product".

The most significant role ISTA plays in bettering our environment and society through the optimization of packaging for distribution is collaboration.  ISTA creates a space for all stakeholders across the distribution chain to share and develop ideas, research, and information.  This leads to the development of education, certifications, and standards focused on controlling costs, reducing the risk of damage and minimizing the environmental impact of the distribution of packaged products.

It is important that these tools and collaboration continue to evolve and improve globally.  Over the past year the ISTA Global Board of Directors finalized planning strategies and long-range goals for the association.  These goals focus on three core areas:

1. Providing the global packaging community tools and expertise of the highest integrity to facilitate the optimization of packaged-products for distribution.
2. Making all ISTA knowledge accessible through online technology.
3. Becoming globally recognized as the pre-eminent packaging organization for optimizing packaged-products for distribution across all industries.

A key component of meeting these strategic goals will be the creation and execution of a field data collection program.  This program's focus is to develop and maintain data collection standards for ISTA, and outside organizations, to leverage when collecting and sharing atmospheric, vibration, storage and handling data.  ISTA will also be directly funding research and collaborating with industry members to obtain data that meets these established standards for the development and implementation of ISTA test procedures globally.
In addition, we are in the beginning stages of developing a dynamic online data and test planning platform.  The intent of the platform is to make testing, reporting, and verification processes easier for our members, facilitate user-specified region and channel specific testing at a higher resolution, and connect all the key stakeholders across the distribution chain.  We will have much more information on this project to follow in 2018.
So, it is with great excitement that I encourage everyone to stay up-to-date and deepen your engagement with ISTA and your association peers.  Ask questions when they arise and continue to learn from one another.  Without you, ISTA cannot accomplish its mission. 

Wishing everyone a happy and prosperous New Year!

Andrew J. Gruber
ISTA President