INDUSTRY LEADERS FORUM
Bronwyn Capanna Executive Director, Accord
How was 2020 for Accord? As for everyone, it’s been a year of unforeseen disruption, rapid change and much uncertainty for Accord. Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the global upheaval and economic recession it’s caused, has dominated our industry and our activities this year. Along with the impacts on our members’ businesses via border closures, social distancing and the general uncertainty around the pandemic, one of the key challenges our industry faced was the massive supply chain disruptions, resulting in shortages of key ingredients and packaging for our members’ products. Despite all of this, there have been a number of highlights this year. Our industry has remained resilient, rising to the occasion by managing to increase supply of essential hygiene products. Our industry’s products have played a huge and direct role in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. This has resulted in a raised profile and an amplified voice with government and other stakeholders, demonstrating the indispensable nature of our products.
How did Accord adjust to the impact of the pandemic? Firstly, our communications shifted to a crisis-footing, becoming more intensified and targeted to keep members fully informed. We also pivoted to delivering training and events online—our Insight Hours and Regulatory Bites remain extremely popular! We proactively engaged with government and key stakeholders to promote our industry’s capabilities. We compiled industry-wide data on business-impacts to share with decision makers, and we engaged with regulators to streamline rules for disinfectants and sanitisers. 20 INCLEAN January / February 2021
A key achievement was our successful negotiation with the TGA on testing regimes for disinfectants against COVID19. As a result, there are now over 100 products available with TGA approved claims against the virus! We worked hard to ensure ongoing supply of essential products, taking an active leadership role on the Department of Industry’s Hand Sanitiser Roundtable, convened by Karen Andrews MP. In response to urgent product demand, we developed new networks to solve critical supply and logistics issues. We also shared our expertise to ensure ongoing product safety and quality. We offered input into government COVID-19 guidance material and developed two publicly available documents: the ‘Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitiser Manufacturing & Transport Information Sheet’ and the ‘Hand Sanitiser Industry Benchmark for non-therapeutic products’.
What will be the immediate focus for Accord in 2021? Accord’s number one focus every year is to deliver indispensable services to our member companies. This won’t change in 2021, and we’ll be adding to our existing services to provide ongoing value-add in an ever-changing business environment. For example, one of our key focuses in early 2021 will be to establish a benchmark for the industry on packaging usage and policy, to inform our advocacy and specific initiatives to aid in packaging waste reduction. And off the back of the success of our online offerings in 2020, we will be growing our suite of member-exclusive training, webinars, and resources. 2021 will see sessions on a range of topics including Dangerous Goods requirements, New Zealand regulations, disinfectant rules, product category trends, market insights and more. We will also be actively encouraging greater collaboration across the host of players that assist our member companies, including sister organisations locally and internationally such as INCPA and also trade organisations such as lSSA.
What challenges and opportunities do you see for the industry over the next 12 months? The most obvious challenge is the ongoing uncertainty relating to the pandemic, which is still having massive impacts in many countries, as well as the continuing restrictions to global travel. We will also have to contend with the impacts from any local case clusters – we’ve already seen how quickly some states react when it comes to shutting their borders, often with little to no notice! A key opportunity will be continuing to make the most of the heightened general awareness of the importance of cleaning and hygiene products, and to leverage our industry’s relevance and current high profile. There will also be challenges as we continue to navigate the new Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS), and other regulations focused on health and environmental impacts. But there is also opportunity for industry to have meaningful input into the federal government’s proposed deregulation agenda, to achieve more efficient and internationally aligned regulations, which would encourage greater local investment and exports.
Looking at the future – both short and long term – what do you see, as far as changes and adjustments, the global cleaning industry must embrace? Being flexible and nimble is the key – if the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that business-as-usual is gone. In particular, the industry must focus on the lessons from the challenges at the beginning and height of the pandemic, to mitigate the risks for any future resurgence. For instance, options will need to be entrenched within systems for greater supply chain resilience. The pandemic isn’t over and, while Australia finds itself in an enviable position compared to other countries, given the global nature of many of our supply chains we must be ready to face new and emerging issues. Innovation and sustainability go hand in hand and will be even more so