WestRock is proud to welcome Rajiv Banavali as Senior Vice President, Science and Innovation.

In a newly created role, Rajiv will expand our materials science capabilities for creating new products, processes and services across the company with a focus on sustainability and innovation.

Rajiv Banavali Headshot Image

Senior Vice President,
Science and Innovation

Q: Welcome to WestRock! Could you please tell us a little about your background?

A: I am an organic chemist by training—I began my career as a scientist at Texas Christian University and then spent 30 years in the chemical industry in research and development. I have led big technical teams across global markets developing breakthrough innovations, often to achieve sustainability goals. My most recent role was with Huntsman Chemical, where I helped to develop several innovation centers across Asia focused on creating a sustainability strategy for the textile industry. 

Q: What made you decide to join WestRock?

A: With a broad portfolio of fiber-based paper and packaging and a commitment to helping customers to solve their most critical challenges, we can make a bigger impact across the global supply chain. WestRock has deep partnerships with customers who really value packaging innovation to increase their sustainability and grow sales. Most importantly, connecting people to products begins with people, and WestRock has great talent. I am excited to get to know the paper scientists, packaging and design engineers, and automation experts all across WestRock and learn what we’re capable of together.

Q: What are your goals?

A: In the technology world we categorize innovation projects as “Horizon: 1, 2 and 3.”

Horizon 1 is an incremental innovation, like light-weighting, or reducing the amount of fiber required to provide the same strength in a package.

Horizon 2 is a bigger change, like CanCollar®, a fiber-based replacement for the plastic clip for a six-pack of canned beverages.

Horizon 3 is breakthrough innovation. This is when industries change—horse and buggy to car, typewriter to personal computer, telephone to iPhone. What we are after is Horizon 3 type innovation. Our hypothesis is that this Horizon 3 innovation could be built off our technology platforms and connect people to products in a way that is right-sized, renewable, and recyclable.

WestRock innovation spans substrates, machinery and processes to create more value for our customers

There is a talented team of paper scientists, packaging engineers and recycling professionals who support Rajiv Banavali in his leadership of Science and Innovation at WestRock.

CanCollar Generic Resized

Coca-Cola European Partners announced the introduction of WestRock’s CanCollar Eco®, an innovative paperboard packaging solution,—for multi-pack cans in Spain. This helps Coca-Cola remove unnecessary or hard to recycle plastic from its portfolio and supports the company’s vision to create a World Without Waste.

Q: How are you going to get there? 

A: We are working to build the capabilities we need for the future to play to win and support our people, process, tools, competencies and partnerships. It’s about supporting our innovation team by surrounding them with a culture of innovation excellence throughout the enterprise: a culture that takes risks, learns from failures, and thinks long term. Horizon 3 innovation requires a cultural mindset, and WestRock has a huge opportunity to drive a true breakthrough for the circular economy.

Q: What makes you hopeful?

A: Our team truly believes in our purpose to connect people to products through sustainable packaging. Discovering the next transformation in paper and packaging is not only the right thing to do for our business and our customers—it is also the right thing to do for the planet. 

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