American Packaging Corp. renews support for packaging science program with gift

Elizabeth Lamark

Students work with faculty-researchers in RIT’s packaging laboratories collaborating on projects to develop sustainable packaging solutions.

The American Packaging Corp. recently renewed its funding support to Rochester Institute of Technology and its packaging science program with a gift of $1 million.

Funding from the long-time corporate partner will support two innovative packaging centers at the university: the American Packaging Corp. Center for Packaging Innovation, a comprehensive teaching, research and testing laboratory; and the Center for Sustainable Packaging. Both centers are located in RIT’s College of Engineering Technology and focus on producing flexible packaging solutions, the development of sustainable packaging materials and in providing relevant educational opportunities for students in the growing packaging industry.

Creating more sustainable materials, improving recyclability and global packaging policies are driving industry trends in packaging today, said Seth Holmen, American Packaging Corp., director of Research and Development and Technical Solutions.

“As the industry prepares for a transition to a more circular economy, we are creating sustainable package options that improve recyclability and meet the challenge of governments and businesses,” said Holmen. “Collaborative work by RIT faculty and APC researchers will focus on finding solutions to these challenges. Funding will support faculty research, undergraduate and graduate student stipends and provide enhancements to elevate the laboratory to a premier industry testing center.”

Since the American Packaging Corp. Center was established more than 10 years ago, the university’s Department of Packaging Science has pursued research in the area of sustainable materials with many solutions incorporated into products for APC customers.

“We believe that moving this partnership to a new strategic level for both APC and RIT will elevate both partners to greater visibility on the national stage of packaging and sustainability,” said American Packaging Corp. President Jeff Koch. “By expanding the partnership beyond the APC Packaging Innovation Lab and formalizing shared industry-driving goals, we can build a talent pipeline, build sustainable solutions and raise both our organizations to the highest level of national prominence in industry and education.” 

Students at the university work alongside packaging faculty and company researchers, getting hands-on experiences prior to co-ops and being hired in businesses across the country. Collaborative courses were developed with APC’s sponsorship include: Packaging Development, Packaging Design, and Senior Studio One. Through the curriculum, students work with peers in graphic design and industrial design, degree programs based in RIT’s College of Art and Design, to learn how the overall product development process works in the packaging industry.

National corporations also seek the department’s expertise in product, materials and distribution testing along the packaging supply chain using state-of-the-art facilities and software.

“With American Packaging Corp.’s support, RIT’s packaging science program will bring together students and faculty from a variety of departments across campus, ensuring the multi-disciplinary perspectives needed for graduates to work in areas as diverse as food and beverage packaging, biotech and pharmaceuticals,” said Daniel Johnson, professor and packaging science department chair. “Our curriculum has the content about what high-performing packaging would be in both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce environments. That dynamic drives innovation in packaging.”

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