With her love for learning, self-belief, and hard work, Linka, RCL FOODS Packaging Executive, helps us do MORE.
Starting out her career as a graphic designer, Linka’s passion for packaging directed her to the FMCG branded company Rainbow Chicken as a Packaging Technologist. As Rainbow Chicken acquired new businesses, resulting in the formation of RCL FOODS, she moved into management and started building a team into what is today – RCL FOODS Packaging Forum, with members based across South Africa. We sat down with Linka to get to know a little more about her…
Although Linka believes in every one of RCL FOODS’ MORE behaviours, if she had to choose one, it would be MORE CURIOUS. She’s fascinated with finding solutions, and with exciting challenges (especially those where solutions are evasive). She’s re-energised by working within cross-functional teams, including external stakeholders, to brainstorm, think creatively and come up with solutions collaboratively.
“It’s amazing to watch what happens when you ask ‘What if…’”, she says. “We have unbelievable talent and specialist skills at RCL FOODS and in our vast industry networks, and seeing that come to the fore to make a meaningful impact for our people and brands is so rewarding for me.”
Linka has achieved a great deal over the years, particularly with regards to making sustainable packaging a key focus area at RCL FOODS.
“It’s important to me that we are a part of giving back and ensuring that all materials we place onto the market are responsibly managed right to the end of their lives, rather than them ending up in landfill and losing their value, they should be re-used, up-cycled, or recycled for ongoing value delivery”, she says.
Linka is driven to continue to make MORE IMPACT in the upcoming years as she and her teams across South Africa work on ensuring that all unnecessary or problematic packing materials are eliminated to ensure it remains within the circular economy.
She believes that RCL FOODS is one of the frontrunners in terms of adopting EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) regulations, but also believes that it should be an anticompetitive space as it is a fundamental requirement for South Africa and the world to work together towards a sustainable future. Linka shared some of RCL FOODS efforts:
- RCL FOODS has an active EPR Steercom in place to prioritise the embedding of EPR into RCL FOODS ways of working.
- RCL FOODS is engaging actively with Polyco, Fibre Circle and Metpac to establish optimal ways of working towards becoming paying members and supporting the delivery of EPR Strategies that achieve collection & recycling targets.
- Linka is a member on Polyco’s board, ensuring that RCL FOODS is influential in the outworking of Polyco’s EPR strategy to achieve collection and recycling targets.
- EPR requirements have been included in RCL FOODS Packaging Supplier Service level agreements to drive compliance across South Africa.
- On-pack recycling labels (OPRL’s) have been added to approximately 50% of RCL FOODS printed packaging and will continue to be added as artwork is revised and new artwork is developed. This helps educate consumers on how to responsibly handle brands’ packaging after consumption, as well as for Waste Pickers to correctly identify the packaging materials for collection and recycling.
- Design for recycling targets is being woven into individual brand plans for the first time in order to prioritise projects that will reduce the packaging’s impact on the environment.
If Linka could share any advice to someone starting out a career in packaging, she’d encourage them to focus on building strong internal stakeholder and industry networks while fostering relationships along the way. She’d urge them to continuously share their knowledge, collaborate, learn and never give up. Lastly, she’d advise them to “read, read, read!”.
Becoming RCL FOODS’ Packaging Executive has been her proudest achievement in her career so far. “It demonstrates that the business understands the impact of packaging on brands and is prepared to invest in growing packaging as an independent function with high-performing specialists who will deliver huge value for our brands through world-class packaging delivery”, she says.
We are grateful for people like Linka who, by leveraging diversity and inclusivity within the packaging Forum, passionately uses her knowledge, experience, contacts and creative ideas to contribute to making RCL FOODS the success it is today.