Tim Connors joined O-I in 2007 as Director of Finance and Planning, North America and has gone on to establish a prestigious career at the company – the largest glass container manufacturer in North America. In 2010 Mr Connors became Vice President Strategic Planning and Business Development, North America, and then in 2011 he was made Vice President Finance of Asia Pacific. From 2014–2015 he was General Manager of O-I Australia and then went on to be President of Asia Pacific until promoted to his current position as Managing Director for O-I’s Americas North operations.
Chairman of GPI
On 17 December 2020 Tim Connors began his term as Chairman of the Glass Packaging Institute (GPI)’s Board of Trustees, after receiving formal Board approval from the trade association that represents the North American glass container industry. What did he make of such an endorsement?
“It is a tremendous honour to continue a tradition of strong leadership on behalf of our industry in North America,” responds Mr Connors. “GPI has made significant progress over the past 18 months under the leadership of Scott DeFife [President of GPI]. And, we are at a critical point for ensuring the benefits of glass packaging are received and comprehended."
“Over the past few years, GPI has increased its relevance and provided enhanced values to its member companies and stakeholders by increasing engagement with policymakers, staff and stakeholders at the local, state and regional levels, where many issues impacting glass are decided,” Mr Connors continues. “Glass recycling programmes, plant permitting, emissions and energy policy are often determined at these levels.”
Over the last year GPI has taken a more “active and hands-on” leadership role in the Glass Recycling Coalition (GRC), a not-for-profit organisation consisting of haulers, processors, recyclers and brands to improve the amount and quality of recycled glass available for purchase. “These efforts include certification of materials recovery facilities (MRF) that have installation glass sorting equipment and made other adjustments to improve the ultimate usability of glass entering their plants,” says Mr Connors.
“From a broader level, Covid-19 has provided additional key opportunities for GPI to engage with federal agencies, policymakers, as well as national supply, manufacturing, consumer brands and recycling organisations,” he notes. “As governments look to implement policies to reduce carbon emissions and energy use at the plant level, GPI has promoted the sustainable and circular nature of glass, its relatively lower energy-intensity in contrast to competitive packaging at numerous webinars, meetings and hearings.”
Increasing benefits for members
GPI’s members are “very supportive” of the association’s goals, which focus on key issues in the industry, including recycling. “As members we both guide and amplify the common good for glass packaging. GPI, as with the industry, needs the people and resources to ensure clarity and understanding about the benefits of glass packaging,” underlines Mr Connors.
Most of GPI’s objectives (and membership benefits) run through its primary committees, Marketing and Communications (M&C) and Government Affairs, he explains. “These are tied together to provide background, materials and talking points for our members to utilise as they connect with their customers and supply chains to inform and grow their businesses."
“GPI’s M&C Committee works with members to grow and expand markets for glass bottles and jars by developing communications materials, commissioning original market-based research, and providing statistical reports and information to members. These include consumer preference surveys, information on glass recycling and circular economy, supported through regular promotion of glass through earned media and original content. This year, the association restarted its well-known Clear Choice Awards, which recognises outstanding glass container design in the primary food and beverage categories.”
Regarding the Government Affairs committee, GPI advocates on behalf of its member companies in a variety of industries, and Mr Connors gives several examples: “advocating for fair and transparent rail shipping policies, advancing policies that level the playing field for our domestic raw material supply companies, ensuring regulators at the local, state and federal level understand the broad range of issues related to glass recycling, or showcasing our industry’s long-time and continuing efforts to reduce our carbon footprint at the plant level."
“GPI’s leadership teams play a crucial role in the conception and implementation of all advocacy work in the industry,” he adds. “Members of both the Board and Management Committee bring a mix of considerable experience in glass and broader manufacturing industries. This experience allows GPI to support goals to promote glass packaging and will enable progress on GPI’s recycled content goals over the next year, outlined in our new plan – A Circular Future for Glass.”
Spreading the word
GPI is in turn supported by this magazine, with Glass Worldwide serving as GPI’s preferred journal, a co-operation that benefits the association by providing another platform for communication and learning. “Partnering with a glass-focused global publication recognises the many inherent and commonly held attributes shared by the entire glass container supply and customer chains,” believes Mr Connors. “The partnership has provided GPI access to many different companies, increasing our knowledge by sharing experiences, either through Glass Worldwide’s instructive webinars, or through GPI’s regular industry column” – penned by Scott DeFife.
“Glass packaging has so much to offer,” concludes Mr Connors. “And, we, as an industry, have a responsibility to position it correctly in the world of sustainability and branding. For many years other substrates have been committing significant resources to gaining ground in the industry. The challenge now, and in the future, is to ensure that the real, tangible and sustainable benefits of glass are not lost in the noise of single-attribute claims and misinformation.”
With this as the focus of his Chairmanship, and a leadership role at O-I where improving glass recycling in North America is high on the agenda, it is hard to imagine two positions/ambitions that dovetail more perfectly, or an individual more suited to sending the message, loud and proud, that glass is the ultimate packaging solution.