SharpEnd CEO: Connected tech leaders could lobby against “crazy” labeling legislation to promote integrated workstreams
24 Mar 2023 --- Connected packaging technologies could become a key enabler of supply train traceability and environmental sustainability targets but are restrained by ineffective legislation, according to SharpEnd and io.tt CEO and co-founder Cameron Worth.
Speaking to PackagingInsights, Worth says he envisions a future in which industry players such as himself could help policymakers write legislation that promotes product transparency through technologies like QR codes and near-field communication (NFC).
“Right now, you’re not supposed to carry marketing messaging or brand experience around things like nutritional guides and going beyond the label. By combining those two work streams, you can deliver an experience on top of responding to legislation like transparency,” he explains.
Consumer demand for transparency on product origins is increasingly being transposed into legislation against greenwashing on national and international levels. Innova Market Insights recentltrainy pegged “Green but clean” as a top trend for 2023. However, the mounting policies aimed at fighting greenwashing are not necessarily making it easier for brands to engage with consumers and convey accurate information like supply chain traces.
Policymakers must ensure that connected consumer experiences can be wrapped around informative legislation, Worth says. “I’m very interested in a two to three-year horizon where we start to become involved in lobbying for legislation on these matters.”
Internet of Packaging: Are connected technologies the future of brand engagement.”On April 12, PackagingInsights will speak with SharpEnd and Innova Market Insights in an exclusive webinar, “
Pioneering over leading
Worth says that since the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, a flood of clients and projects hit SharpEnd and made the company so busy it restrained the time and space to act as industry pioneers rather than just leaders.
“Now I’ve got my head above water again, I am asking what the industry needs to succeed. I take my role as a pioneer rather than just a leader very seriously. To be a pioneer, you need to make decisions on behalf of the industry rather than just what brings money into the business,” he asserts.
“This is done through helping to write legislation. This is done by combining workstreams. People writing directives need to be aware that you can achieve both outcomes through a single QR code, for example.”
There are instances currently of products with two QR codes on them – one doing an experience and showing ingredient traceability. Worth says this “is crazy.”
Legislation barriers, integrating conversations
This isn’t just a question of industry awareness, says Worth, but about being forced to respond to legislation and not being given the freedom to do the same thing through a single QR code, for example.
“Again, that’s because of directives rather than any brand decision maker saying, ‘hey, let's have two QR codes on the same label’ because I don’t think anyone believes that would be optimized.”
“It’s about looking into the supply chain now and thinking about how we make people’s lives easier now. We’ve got the agency business SharpEnd but then we’ve got io.tt, which is our platform in over 130 countries.”
This second strand of the business is all based around software as a service rather than time and materials for an agency services function, Worth explains. “That is an interesting journey we’ve been on for the past couple of years because it allows you to have two different coverations.
“For example, some label converters might need a platform to resell to their customers to put QR codes on their products but they also might want the creative solutions as well.”
Industry announcements on the horizon
Despite legislative hurdles remaining in place, Worth says SharpEnd is already preparing for a big development this year that could set an industry-wide example for governments and legislators on the power of connected technologies.
“We’re getting ready for a market announcement in April, which will be joining two industry leaders around traceability and engagement through single identities on products, and we’re in the process of working out how we’re going to market that to consumers, but the result is finally end-to-end traceability and lifecycle management,” he says.
“From ingredient sourcing to supply chain traceability to distribution to purchase to in-purchase at home – the whole thing is going to be managed through one integration of two platforms together.”
Register now for our webinar with SharpEnd and Innova Market Insights and submit questions fast for the best chance of a response.
By Louis Gore-Langton
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