VOLUME 14.3 – 2019
THE SUSTAINABILITY AWARDS
THE GLOBAL COMPETITION FOR SUSTAINABLE PACKAGING INNOVATION IS BACK RIGID PLASTICS • CHEMICAL RECYCLING • E-COMMERCE • FLEXIBLE ELECTRONICS • CEFLEX
Content Team Tim Sykes Elisabeth Skoda Libby White Victoria Hattersley
Head of Studio Gareth Harrey
Production Manager Paul Holden-Abbott
Advertising Coordinator Kayleigh Harvey
Executive Assistant Amber Dawson
Head of Commercial Operations
VOLUME 14.3 – 2019
Head of Sales Kevin Gambrill
Senior Sales Executive Dominic Kurkowski
Sales Executive Alain Rizk
IT Support Syed Hassan
Audience Development Executive Andrew Wood
Packaging Europe Ltd Part of the Rapid News Communications Group 9 Norwich Business Park, Whiting Road, Norwich, Norfolk, NR4 6DJ, UK Registered Office: Carlton House, Sandpiper Way, Chester Business Park, Chester, CH4 9QE. Company No: 10531302. Registered in England. VAT Registration No. GB 265 4148 96 Telephone: +44 (0)1603 885000 Editorial: firstname.lastname@example.org Studio: email@example.com Advertising: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Website: packagingeurope.com Facebook: facebook.com/PackagingEurope Twitter: twitter.com/PackagingEurope LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/packaging-europe YouTube: youtube.com/PackagingEurope © Packaging Europe Ltd 2019 No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form for any purpose, other than short sections for the purpose of review, without prior consent of the publisher. ISSN 2516-0133 (Print) ISSN 02516-0141 (Online)
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Editorial Victoria Hattersley Sustainability Awards Time to send us your green innovations Rigid Plastics What are the biggest challenges for the industry? CEFLEX Transformative collaboration Barrier performance The shelf-life challenge IFFA Optimising production efficiency Innovation spotlight Bemis: Packaging light as... paper? Aseptic cartons Continued growth in popularity Chemical recycling Building a circular economy New retail formats ...and how the industry is adapting Flexible electronics Do androids dream of electric sensors? Innovation spotlight Noluma: The importance of light protection in packaging Smurfit Kappa On the need for a fundamental e-think Innovation spotlight Tubettificio Favia presents ToBeNaturAL On second thoughts... The world’s changing. Is industry listening?
his issue we’re going to talk about e-commerce. It is, of course, hard to avoid – it has been estimated that by 2040 almost 95 per cent of our purchases will be facilitated by online platforms. And the sheer volume of goods flying around the world places heavy demands on brand owners and packaging suppliers. How to protect the product while using the most sustainable option? How to avoid waste at the end of the process? How to convey your brand message to the consumer when the way they engage with your product is fundamentally changing? Two features in this issue will be engaging with these questions in different ways. Gérard van de Boogaard of Smurfit Kappa talks about the complexities of optimisation for e-commerce amid the fiendish proliferation of variables, while I step a little further back to take a broader look at the newest retail formats and how the industry is evolving to adapt to these. But it’s not all e-commerce – we will also consider the possibilities of chemical recycling, the latest innovations in aseptic cartons and barriers in flexible packaging, as well as reporting exclusively from the latest member meeting of the CEFLEX project. The topics covered in this issue alone give some idea of the array of complex challenges to be faced. And just as there is a need to keep
Victoria Hattersley Senior Writer
products fresh, there is a need for the industry itself to stay fresh; this is why it’s important to nurture new voices and talents. As Haulwen Nicholas, founder of The Packaging Oracle, will argue in our regular ‘On Second Thoughts...’ feature, “The current leadership of the packaging world must make space for a new generation.” At Packaging Europe we share this belief, and will therefore be engaging increasingly with younger voices in the industry in the coming months. P.S. And finally, lest we forget, our fifth annual Sustainability Awards – the most serious, rigorous, and prestigious international competition for sustainability in packaging, culminating this year at FachPack 2019 on 25 September – is now open for submissions. Turn over the page for details of how to engage.
Victoria Hattersley Victoria Hattersley firstname.lastname@example.org @PackEuropeVicky
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THE SUSTAINABILITY AWARDS RETURNS There has never been greater need for sustainability-focused innovation across the packaging value chain – and for separating the actions that truly make a difference from the greenwash. It’s therefore great news that the most serious, rigorous and prestigious international competition for sustainability in packaging returns this year in an expanded format and culminating at FachPack on 25 September – the number one live event for the packaging industry in 2019.
ublic, governmental and indeed industry concern about packaging and the environment has never been greater. Last year there was a fierce spotlight on ocean waste; this year public attention has also returned to the threats associated with climate change. In the background (often unnoticed by the wider world) the packaging value chain has been investing time, money and imagination in coming up with answers. The Sustainability Awards has the goal of encouraging these efforts, promoting the best of them, and providing a focal point for an honest, collective discussion about what holistic, substantive innovation really means. The Sustainability Awards 2019 returns with some innovations of its own, all of which are intended to maximise these values. The independent, expert judging panel representing a cross-section of the value chain is the backbone of the competition. This year the panel has been expanded to add new packaging design, waste management and sustainability perspectives, and for the first time includes judges from the Americas and Asia as well as Europe. New judges
include Kim Houchens of Amazon, TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky, Gian De Belder of P&G, Chris Daly of PepsiCo and Laurent Auguste of Veolia. In addition, Packaging Europe has introduced a two-round judging structure, to enable judges to scrutinise each submission in greater detail. Participants have also been encouraged to provide additional supporting information and empirical data to ensure any sustainability claims are solid.
Timeline Submissions close: 20 May 2019 at midnight CET Finalists announced: 2 September 2019 Winners announced: 25 September 2019 (live at FachPack in Nürnberg, Germany)
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Once again, the competition’s six categories spotlight each of the key areas of innovation where the environmental footprint of packaging and packaged goods can be reduced, from resource efficiency to recycling, biomaterials to greener packaging machinery, and driving best practice at the brand owner and retailer level. Across each category the judges are instructed to favour holistic solutions over those whose gains in one area may be offset by negative side-effects in others. “With every successive edition the profile of the Sustainability Awards has grown and grown,” commented Tim Sykes, Packaging Europe’s head of content. “We’re delighted to accelerate this process by bringing the industry’s leading sustainability event to the leading packaging fair in Europe in 2019. We expect last year’s upsurge in submissions to continue in 2019 as the global value chain engages ever more closely with the initiative. This is happening because the Sustainability Awards isn’t just about picking out six winners, but focusing attention on what is possible. There is always profound discussion around the Awards, and we’ve increasingly seen that it is the starting point for adoption and cross-fertilisation of ideas and innovations – whether in the form of early-stage R&D, solutions already on the market, or cross-industry collaboration projects.” Integrated into FachPack’s PackBox Forum programme on the afternoon of 25 September 2019, the Sustainability Awards ceremony will once again be presented in conjunction with the Sustainable Packaging Summit, curated by Packaging Europe to form the unmissable sustainability event of the year. “Everyone knows that sustainability is the number one challenge facing the packaging industry,” commented Cornelia Fehlner, director FachPack. “Therefore ‘environmentally friendly packaging’ is a key theme for FachPack 2019 and we’re delighted to host the Sustainability Awards. Together with the Sustainable Packaging Summit, our partnership with Packaging Europe directs a valuable | 6 | Packaging Europe
spotlight on solutions to the critical environmental challenges facing packaging. Wednesday afternoon at the Forum PackBox is set to be one of the highlights of the fair for attendees.”
Submissions to the Sustainability Awards 2019 are open until 20 May 2019 at midnight CET. There’s no charge to enter, in order to ensure the competition is equally accessible to start-ups and non-profits as it is to global brands. For full details, rules, and submissions visit theSustainabilityAwards.com
RIGID PLASTICS – AN OVERVIEW
• Global rigid plastic packaging consumption will rise at an annual rate of 3.7 per cent from 52.9 million tonnes in 2017 to 63.4 million tonnes in 2022.
• Some 30 per cent of plastic waste is recycled in Europe today – or less than a third. • Rigid plastic packaging holds an 18.8 per cent share of the European market, behind board (at 30.2 per cent) and flexible packaging (at 26.3 per cent).
• PET is the largest material type for rigid plastic packaging, followed by PE and PP. • PP and PET are expected to grow at the fastest rate of all bulk rigid packaging polymers.
THE PLASTICS WASTE PROBLEM – A NEED FOR NUANCE?
W THE ‘CHALLENGE FROM FLEXIBLES’
often hear reports that rigid plastic packaging is under growing threat from flexibles, particularly the stand-up pouch. But maybe ‘challenge’ is the wrong word - it is not necessarily a case of either/or. While we know that flexible stand-up pouches have excellent preservative properties, they are often constructed from multiple layers of film or other flexible substrates, which can make them challenging to recycle. And the protective properties of rigid plastics allow more delicate products such as soft fruits or baked goods to reach the consumer safely following long transit. “We do not see that rigid plastics are in competition with flexible packaging,” says Adrian Whyle of PlasticsEurope. “Flexible packaging is ideally suited for products such as toothpastes, cat food, confectionary products etc. However, for many applications a rigid container is the best solution, e.g. laundry products, carbonated beverage containers and larger containers such as milk bottles or engine oil.”
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hat began as a legitimate concern about will increase. This happens at a time when we are the amount of plastic we use (and throw faced with the challenges of global warming, and away) has quickly evolved into what some increasing food poverty even in the most developed would call a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction. countries. Our priority has to be to maximise the As we have covered extensively, single-use preservation and shelf-life of perishable resources, plastics have perhaps been singled out as the while at the same time securing their quality and big culprits, but the material in general has safety,” says Adrian Whyle, Resource Efficiency seen something of a beating. We’ve all heard Senior Manager, PlasticsEurope. frightening statistics, such as that from the In the EU, less than 30 per cent of plastic Ellen MacArthur foundation that there could be waste is recycled today. Compare this to say, more plastics than fish in the sea by 2050. And Japan, which recycles almost 85 per cent of its yes, when you see PET bottles. images of plastics What we need, washed upon the then, is to change “Plastics are recyclable and shore it is usually the way we look at are too valuable a resource rigid containers. plastics. To change to waste. We need systems So while nobody the way we consume, in place that enable more would argue that dispose of and recycle recycling to take place, but reducing rigid plastics them in order to make we also need to change waste – or indeed them a valuable part people’s mindset so that any waste – where of a circular economy they actively want to recycle possible is a good – not part of the more, and start to regard thing, a little of the problem. Many would plastics as a resource and not nuance has been lost argue we already a throwaway product.” along the way. If used have the technologies – David Baker and Katherine Fleet, responsibly, plastic is available to do this, RPC Group. a valuable material. but as yet we have not It helps protect our found a way to implemedicines. It keeps ment them effectively our food fresher for longer. It is light and relaon a wider scale. tively cheap to manufacture. The sheer scale of the plastics waste problem And yet, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foun- cannot be denied or ignored. But given the value dation, 95 per cent of the value of plastic packaging of this material, its protective qualities and low material, worth $80-120 billion annually, is lost to production costs, it’s unlikely we will be seeing it the economy. consigned to the history books in the near future. “Indeed, we are seeing certain retailers removing This being the case, it is imperative that we find a packaging while acknowledging that food waste more efficient way to manufacture and deal with it.
A LOOK AT BLACK PLASTICS
seems to have become a kind of accepted wisdom in some quarters that ‘black plastics can’t be recycled’. The reality is slightly more complex. Technically, as we know, all plastics can be recycled, and black is no different. The issue is more with how it can be efficiently separated from the waste stream in order to avoid colour contamination. The optical machines that sort plastics for recycling can’t detect the carbon black pigments, meaning that a great deal of recyclable material will be sent to incineration or, even worse, landfill. Then why do we use black plastics at all? Why not stick to clear, or light blue, which makes for a greatly simplified recycling stream? Many assume it is to give a more ‘premium’ feel.
In fact, it’s not all about the look of the product. “One, black is a useful colour to prevent damage to the food as it prevents light getting in; and two it helps things to stay cooler,” says Jennifer Baxter of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. “But we are seeing a movement away from that, such as for example food products coming in oven-ready cardboard.” Some supermarket chains – Lidl, for example – have been phasing out black plastics entirely, while last year Quorn announced it would be eliminating black plastic from its packaging. But an outright ban would seem to ignore the potential technologies that could address this issue. To give just one example, Irish company Quinn Packaging has introduced the ‘first fully recyclable black plastic tray’, the Detecta food tray. Quinn’s
solution has been to create its own black colour additive, which it says makes the trays easily identifiable, allowing them to be sorted on existing Near-Infra-Red sorting equipment. This is also an area in which chemical recycling may hold great potential, says Adrian Whyle of Plastics Europe: “In the future when the technology for chemical recycling has achieved maturity, [black plastics] will provide ideal feedstock for conversion back to virgin plastics.”
SPOTLIGHT ON INJECTION COMPRESSION MOULDING
T Kevin Heap
here is continued pressure on brand owners to reduce the weight of their packaging. But some would argue that while it is desirable to have as light a package as possible, reducing the wall thickness of a rigid container can decrease its barrier effectiveness and mechanical properties, thereby creating more food waste.
particularly food and FMCG lids and containers. “Today’s lightweight plastics offer a combination of superior functionality, strength, shatter resistance and barrier properties, reducing the wall thickness of containers and lids from 0.45mm to 0.35mm. This saves around 25 per cent in raw PP materials compared to standard injection moulding, while maintaining comparable mechanical properties.”
Greater material savings?
Injection compression moulding to reduce wall thickness is just one technology that may have potential for dealing with this issue, says Kevin Heap of Sumitomo (SHI) Demag. Compared to conventional thin wall injection moulding, he tells us, where faster filling and higher pressures are required to drive molten plastic material into thinner cavities to prevent it freezing off between shots, injection compression moulding presses the plasticised material into moulds to ensure even distribution. This method is suited to ultra-thin plastic packaging,
He adds that stack moulds – a series of moulding faces ‘stacked’ together to create multiple faces or levels for moulding – are increasingly used along with injection compression moulding to boost productivity by distributing the plastic melt onto two or more separate mould parting surfaces. “Thin Recess Injection Moulding (TRIM) was developed and patented by StackTeck of Canada. The company uses an advanced approach to thin out parts of the wall section well beyond the conventional thin wall packaging approach used for polyolefins with high melt flow indexes.”
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CASE STUDY 2
ne particularly novel solution that has created a buzz over the past year is the ‘flat wine bottle’ from Garçon Wines. Made from 100 per cent recycled PET, the bottle is significantly lighter than the standard glass wine bottle and its flat profile means the environmental impact of transport is reduced, as packers can fit 10 to a case. This also eliminates the ‘empty space’ problem faced by brand owners today. It also plays into the growing e-commerce market. According to the company, the recycled material is tough enough to withstand the postal system, and the design means it can fit securely through a standard-sized letterbox.
CASE STUDY 1
ast year, France’s CARBIOS announced its successful development of the first PET bottles made from 100 per cent Purified Terephthalic Acid (rPTA), through the enzymatic biorecycling of plastic waste. According to Alain Marty, Chief Scientific Officer at CARBIOS: “We have successfully developed the first biological process with which all kinds of PET plastic waste can be broken down into its original components and reused to produce virgin plastic products for applications such as PET bottles.” While this technology is not market-ready yet, and the challenge of producing recycled PET with the same properties and efficiency of virgin PET remains, it does hold potential for the future.
BUILDING A CIRCULAR ECONOMY
he use of recycled plastic feedstocks is an integral part of our move towards a circular economy, as it would decrease the demand for virgin resources. And with growing consumer awareness of the problem of plastic waste, there is a greater appetite for rigid plastics with higher recycled content. The industry certainly seems more actively committed to increasing the recycling and reuse of plastics, as evidenced by the Plastics 2030 voluntary commitment. Creating more value from plastic waste by using more recycled materials in rigid plastics can only be a good thing in principle. But there are challenges to be faced, not least in terms of the varying quality results when it comes to the use of these materials. To many, despite claims to the contrary, there is a question mark over the
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quality of a package made from higher percentages of recycled feedstocks. How high can we go before, for example, barrier protection becomes an issue? The extent to which the amount of recycled content will affect how the material and machinery will perform depends upon the ratio of ground-up plastic that is mixed with the virgin materials. “One of the biggest challenges is that how the polymer blend will perform varies from batch to batch,” says Kevin Heap of Sumitomo (SHI) Demag. “This makes it more challenging to optimise machinery process settings, which in turn reduces the efficiency of the processing machinery which affects the bottom line.” Efforts are being made to improve the recyclability of recycled plastic feedstock – such as for exam-
ple through the use of increasingly sophisticated lab and blending techniques. It is clear that rPET has great potential. But in addition to quality, another problem the industry struggles with is scaling: put simply, we have not yet devised a system to produce quality recycled feedstocks in the amounts needed to make them a real commercial force. The good news is efforts are being made to address this. To give just one example, Repsol recently introduced its Reciclex project, through which it says it aims to address the shortage of recycled material with the consistent quality required by the market. Finally, there’s also a trust issue regarding the use of reground plastics, particularly in relation to contamination. Any plastics for food applications need to carefully evaluate the compliance risks.
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TRANSFORMATIVE COLLABORATION Until now CEFLEX has been working away relatively quietly, with an inward focus on refining its agenda and getting initial workstreams started. Two years into its existence, the collaborative initiative is ready to start communicating its direction of travel to the wider world. Packaging Europe’s Tim Sykes was privileged to be the first journalist invited to attend a CEFLEX general meeting – and came away deeply impressed.
et’s start with a recap. Launched in 2017, CEFLEX is a pan-European flexible packaging value chain consortium set up with the aim, no less, of facilitating the creation of a practically and economically viable circular economy in flexible packaging. The new idea in the CEFLEX approach is to unite the whole value chain – from chemical companies and converters through to brand owners and recyclers in an endeavour that would be unthinkable without joined-up thinking and complementary action. Dedicated consultants, led by Graham Houlder, oversee a comprehensive programme of seven workstreams, covering everything from design for recycling, sustainable end markets for PCR, to business cases, facilitation of new technologies, and so on. Knowledge is gathered and fed into workstreams from collaborations and commissioned research. And, crucially, the stakeholders play an active role, not least in scrutinising and refining the agenda as it progresses. Invited to the Q1 2019 stakeholder meeting, I was treated to a vivid insight into this stakeholder engagement. It was rather a thrilling sight to witness some 160 stakeholders come together, brushing aside industry silos and competitive pressures for profound and practical discussions focused on a common goal: to construct the roadmap toward 100 per cent collection of flexible packaging with 80 per cent returning to the circular economy in Europe by 2025.
Constructive, forensic While the full session of the meeting communicated all the headline news, the day’s real revelation came from the subsequent break-out meetings. Here, working groups representing each of the individual links in the value chain (brand owners gathering in one corner, converters in the next) gathered to frankly talk through the practical implications of the minutiae of the unfolding masterplan for their industry. I won’t report on the content of the conversations upon which I was permitted to eavesdrop. However, I can testify that each group saw lively and forensic discussion between competitors of the little questions arising from the agenda – from “how exactly do we define ‘monomaterial’?” to “what would be the market implications of relaxing optical specifications?” This, above all, is what suggests to me that CEFLEX will succeed. Grand schemes, simple in their basic architecture, only do so when they pay due attention to the complexity of the world they intend to change. Packaging Europe | 13 |
Nevertheless, how is the big picture shaping up? CEFLEX has set out four essential conditions for building a circular economy for flexible packaging. First, all flexibles need to be collected separately from general household waste. Secondly, monomaterials (which already constitute about 80 per cent of the market) need to be sorted out into clean streams for recycling. One might observe that this 80 per cent of substrate that’s not technologically challenging to recycle represents rather a lot of low-hanging fruit. Thirdly, where possible multi-material flexible packaging (the remaining 20 per cent – or 750 thousand tons) should be redesigned as monomaterials offering the same or acceptable quality. Meanwhile, capability to sort and recycle the remaining multimaterial fractions needs to be developed. Fourthly, and essential to the success of the plan, sustainable end markets for PCR must be developed. There are substantial challenges in each of these objectives. Let’s examine the direction that the respective CEFLEX workstreams are heading in as it seeks to meet them.
D4ACE – design for a circular economy CEFLEX will submit D4ACE guidelines to consultation in June with the aim of publishing them for Europe-wide implementation in Q3 this year. At this stage the focus has been on setting out the types of flexible packaging that are designed for recycling – i.e. can be sorted and mechanically recycled using existing industrial scale technologies and processes (based on either trial data or existing commercial practices). The next phase will focus on the more problematic categories of flexible packaging that aren’t widely sorted or mechanically recycled. This will encompass testing and suggested design changes, and it’s envisaged that some structures will ultimately be deemed not ‘designed for recycling’. It will be important to ensure that these do not disrupt the wider sorting-recycling, which means that methods will need to be developed to easily identify and separate them.
Recycling multimaterials Meanwhile, CEFLEX is actively scouting technologies that can make push the boundaries in not-yet-recycled materials. It is engaging with technology providers for delamination technologies with deinking, such as Cadel Deinking, or without deinking like Saperatec, as well as solvent separation, so called solvolysis, as currently implemented by the Newcycling® technology developed by APK (one of the stakeholders in CEFLEX). A related challenge is that of separating particular structures (whether ‘designed for recycling’ or not) post-collection. “Having closely watched the Holy Grail Project, commissioned by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, we decided to | 14 | Packaging Europe
assess digital watermarking technology as an enabler of sorting using devices like a customised camera,” Dana Mosora, CEFLEX workstream consultant told me. As reported in Packaging Europe magazine last year, watermarking technology has already demonstrated considerable promise in its capacity to sort rigid plastic packaging, and trials with flexibles are forthcoming. Meanwhile, both constraints around food contact applications and the need to replenish quality after multiple cycles of mechanical recycling point in the direction of a significant role for chemical recycling. Frankly, there is still a lot of mapping to be done around how exactly chemical recycling will fit into the landscape, as well as the broader market dynamics for food. “We intend to create the full picture of the flow of waste plastic showing the input and output materials’ minimum requirements for food applications, including available certification,” Dana commented.
End markets The CEFLEX vision of more than 80 per cent of flexibles being made available to go back into the circular economy relies on the existence of sustainable end markets for more than 2.5mil tons of PCR derived from flexible packaging. Work towards nurturing such markets is focusing on existing, but not yet mainstream, technologies, such as NIR sorting for separation by polymer and by colour, decontamination with hot washing and enhanced filtration and degassing. “We are currently running trials which will showcase what is the maximum quality of recycled polymers that can be delivered by adding the enhanced separation and decontamination steps in the recycling process for flexible packaging,” according to Dana. “Results indicate potential for various non-food film applications with colourless/odourless rPE film grade. Work is in progress for the colour fractions and mix polymers fractions.” The next, crucial stage in the technical work will consist in optimising recycling processes to attain an economical balance between added cost and higher value of the output polymer. This workstream project expects to culminate in recommending new sorting specifications to deliver a viable quality and quantity of recyclate for identified new end markets. As Graham Houlder reminds the stakeholders, “A circular economy means that we need to find economically and environmentally viable solutions for all flexible packaging placed on the market not just the easy to recycle formats.” Another important aspect of the economics of the circular economy is consumer buy-in. What if the big brands and retailers use their direct relationship with consumers, e.g. to encourage them to accept products with reduced transparency, or to regard recycled plastic as a premium worth paying for?
A sound economic case is at the basis of every strand of the initiative. “Because CEFLEX will only recommend technical solutions with a robust business case for investment in implementation, we are working diligently to develop the EcoChain tool for a combined environmental and financial cost of any process,” Dana revealed. “This belongs to the end of a lifecycle of any flexible packaging. Once fully developed and beta tested, this tool will not only help CEFLEX understand and further recommend those technologies and processes which will indeed enable enhanced value of flexible packaging in a circular economy, but it can also be used by the 28 EU country EPR systems to understand the full costs and impacts of recycling flexible packaging in their country and where more investment is needed.”
Everyone is involved At the end of a most rewarding day my enduring impression was that CEFLEX is dependent above all on collective buy-in. Within the value chain everyone needs to invest: chemical companies in extending the functionality of existing polymers; converters in monopolymer solutions; waste management in new sorting and recycling infrastructure; and brand owners may have to swallow some temporary loss of margin. The onus is also on stakeholders to compromise where necessary. Brand owners, for instance, may have to accept reduced functionality in the short term in some respects as a reasonable price for more PCR. One of the major contributions of CEFLEX is that the critical mass of its stakeholder base and the rigour of its plan provide a strong degree of confidence in the direction
of the market and therefore in ROI. Meanwhile, the trust and transparency building among the stakeholders can only fuel the impetus for compromise. However, the creation of a circular economy is contingent on wider still cooperation. Within the value chain, retailers have an important role to play – and are notable in their under-representation at the CEFLEX table. Success will also be hugely reliant on external stakeholders. Flexible packaging is currently not even collected separately in a third of EU countries. This has to change, and the value chain is not in a position to make it happen unilaterally. Regulators need to work urgently on harmonisation of infrastructure and standards. Society as a whole must come together to build the circular economy. CEFLEX has set us a laudable example to follow.
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THE SHELF-LIFE CHALLENGE Through both the CEFLEX initiative and unilateral R&D efforts across the industry, the flexible plastics industry is very much occupied with the circular economy problem. But in the meantime pressure on the planet’s resources continues to grow, and with it our need for packaging technologies that prevent food waste, particularly for energy-intensive products such as meat. How is flexible packaging catering to this need? In what way does design for recycling impact on approaches to extending shelf-life? And how is the market place responding? In the second of our series of investigations around the IFFA fair, Packaging Europe listens to what the value chain has to say. The chemists Karlheinz Hausmann (R&D fellow at Dow): lexible barrier packaging solutions are probably the most effective packaging types in terms of resource efficiency, not only in terms of material consumption but also in terms of shelf life extension associated with this. Barrier layers can be integrated easily in flexible multilayer packaging formats, thus reducing significantly the thickness of the entire structure. This holds for liquid packaging, dry food packaging but also for fresh food packaging such as meat, cheese and fish. As an example, one kilo of fresh meat can be packaged in polystyrene trays using a cling film, consuming c. 40 g of packaging material and resulting in a shelf life of three or four days, but it also can be packaged in a fully flexible barrier vacuum package, consuming 3 g of plastic packaging material and resulting in a shelf life of three or four weeks while potentially reducing the food waste at the retailer level by 75 per cent (as a Denkstatt study from 2017 found). Dow’s high performance sealant polymers such as SURLYN™, AFFINITY™ and tie-layer polymers such as BYNEL® and AMPLIFY™ TY contribute significantly to the success of these packaging types (backed up by LCA study). The reason for the excellent performance of low seal initiation temperature sealants such as SURLYN™ is the tight shrinkage and secondary sealing around the product, making sure that the meat juice is kept in the product, so that it cannot serve as a breeding ground of bacteria, this leading to shorter shelf life. The same, although in a less critical way, holds for fish or lamb or other perishable products. The spread of vacuum packaging of fresh meat differs on a country to country basis. This difference in many cases can depend on the consumer preference for printed packages (which are more difficult to recycle vs transparent, unprinted packages) and can also be due to the lack of retailers’ experience with this type of resource-efficient, and cost-effective package. Countries such as Germany, the UK and Switzerland are leading with these formats. Others, such as Spain, Italy and France, are either not yet participating or only slowly transitioning to this more efficient vacuum packaging. Of course the use of flexible barrier packaging leads to the use of multilayer structures, as many different components need to be combined in one film. These components are often not compatible with each other in the recycling process. Many people think that multilayer structures used in flexible packaging are non-recyclable per definition and therefore are incompatible with circular
economy thinking. This is however not entirely correct – and a reason why CEFLEX and other value chain organisations are working on design guidelines. First of all, the films need to end up in an existing recycling stream such as PE, PP or PET. For this to happen, sorting systems need to recognise the films as PE, PP or PET. Thereafter, the other components in the multilayer structure need to be compatible with this recycle stream or have no significant negative impact on the process. Often, the oxygen barrier component, be it EVOH, PA or PET will have only limited compatibility with the PE or PP – a solution for this would be to either minimise the amount of these components’ present needs in the packaging production itself, or to incorporate special compatibiliser resins in order to improve the dispersion of the incompatible components and to minimise the negative impact they may have on the properties of the recycled resin. In addition, certain components, such as pigments, paper, PVDC, should ideally be avoided. Coming back to the above example of vacuum bags for fresh meat packaging, these can be produced via novel production processes leading to multilayer barrier films that consist exclusively of thermoplastic components and are usually free from print, and as a result could finally be recyclable in the PE recycling stream. The unprinted package, however, is often less appealing to the consumer. In the case of stand up pouches, one such way of designing for recyclability would be combining oriented PE or PP with a specialty ethylene copolymer or propylene copolymer sealant layer. The oriented films provide stiffness, high gloss and protection, whilst the sealant layer delivers high-speed packaging capability. Altogether they would be recyclable in the PE or PP recycle streams.
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The packaging producers Luca Zerbini (VP marketing, innovation and sustainability at Amcor): e have seen growth in our transparent high barrier product AmLite, which has multiple variations depending on application. As consumers become more conscious of caring for health, wellbeing and the environment, many of our customers see value in transparency linked to trends around natural foods and sustainability. Consumers want to see the food inside the packaging, and to most consumers transparency signals natural and unprocessed more than metallised packaging. And they want packaging that they can put into the recycling bin! Our next generation laminates provide the same protection as our traditional AmLite range and replace PET with OPP, making them both high barrier and recyclable. Development continues on a recyclable retort version of AmLite, a world first, with promising tests using the new high barrier polyolefin film. We have also worked with customers to further improve the environmental profile by replacing standard PE sealant layers with bio-based PE derived from sugar cane. This is often an attractive and easy change for our customers as the bio-based PE performs the same as the standard PE. In coffee and cheese we have helped customers convert to bio-based PE, resulting in a significant carbon footprint reduction of their packaging. Applying this to the newest grades of AmLite results in transparent and recyclable packaging with excellent environmental performance.
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Ed Roberts (EMEA regional sustainability director at Sealed Air Food Care): ood waste is top of mind for consumers, retailers and legislators. Shelf-life extension is seen as a critical tool in reducing food waste. Films with high gas barrier properties are particularly considered as delivering shelf-life extension and, hence, food waste reduction. Therefore, these types of materials should be considered as essential food packaging. However, not all plastics are the same â€“ mono-polyethylene and mono-polypropylene, although having very good moisture barrier properties, have relatively poor gas barrier performance. These films may be suitable for some food types but are less suitable for others, such as fresh meat, fish, poultry and cheese. As well is improving gas barrier performance, films are being developed to minimise resource reduction whether this be less plastic through, for example, thinner gauge films or energy consumption through, for example, improved transportation and/or refrigeration. Markets such as the UK are well established in moving to vacuum systems, particularly tray skin packs. Fish has notably moved to vacuum packaging. Vacuum packaging has several benefits but relies on very high gas barrier films to achieve and maintain a suitable vacuum. Other European countries have seen the benefits of vacuum packaging for shelf-life extension, fresher for longer, eating quality etc. but the transformation has been somewhat stymied by a focus on single-use rather than essential food packaging.
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The machinery company Alexander Gegner (marketing at WEBOMATIC): he most crucial issues we can directly influence are the high levels of waste and complexity in the recycling process. Unfortunately, no European country has been able to create closed cycles of reusability or even a standard definition of what ‘up-cycling’, ‘recycling’ or ‘down-cycling’ mean. Moreover, the devastating consequence is that still today one third of the food produced worldwide is thrown away. Resource-friendly and -efficient packaging is essential in eliminating food and resource waste. As a producer of vacuum packaging machines, WEBOMATIC offers different food packaging types: in vacuum, with MAP, in a tray, as a shrink or skin package. Any flexible packaging supports the reduction of food waste by extending shelf life, protecting the product from external influences and allowing for safe transportation. Modern production technologies and the rising awareness of our current situation are what motivates us to help to modernise packaging, protect valuable food and help prevent wastage. Customer-specific smart packaging with smaller portions and reliable resealability have been a main focus of our R&D in recent years. We have emphasised testing, recommending and using renewable resource packaging, or thin, mono-based plastic to satisfy the current European recycling standards and environmental concerns related to the high production of waste. A
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similarly effective alternative to simple vacuum packaging for smaller businesses is the use of shrink pouches. Compared to thicker tray packages and vacuum pouches, resources can be saved due to thinner pouch material and comparably easier recycling of a shrink pouch. After the product is evacuated and hermetically sealed with a special shrink pouch, a shrink tank filled with water shrinks the pouch tightly around the product. A carton-based banderol displays all relevant product information and since both packaging types are not ‘glued’ to each other, the recycling fits the current standards. Further improvements should be made on the consumer education front regarding food waste: together with the food producing companies, it is our duty to not only research around innovative packaging possibilities, but also to provide more information for the end-customer. Food waste is predominantly fuelled by popular myths and a lack of knowledge about the shelf life of certain products. These driving factors have to be tackled by both machine and product manufacturers. This subject relates not only to common misconceptions about meat colour changes, but also to the use of packaging gas and new, resource friendly packaging possibilities. The value chain needs to communicate with consumers on how to deal with food products, the shelf-life of different products and how packaging should be handled post product usage.
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IFFA 2019: DIGITALISATION OFFERS OPTIMISED PRODUCTION IN MEAT PROCESSING
Optimising production processes is increasingly based on digitalisation and interlinked networks. The objective is to increase security of production and optimise the use of the machinery, to work in ways that are more energy-efficient and to be able to react more flexibly to changes in the market.
eading international companies will be showcasing their latest technologies at IFFA and providing information on the major trends and developments in the meat-processing industry. A considerable amount of space is devoted to the optimisation of production processes. The examples of best practice on show at the trade fair offer trade visitors a host of valuable hints in this regard, together with assistance in making relevant decisions.
Smart sensors â€“ senses for the machines In the â€˜smart factoryâ€™, products and individual machines spread throughout the factory must communicate with one another and organise, regulate and monitor themselves. One of the basic requirements for this is the ready availability, at all times, of status data on products, machinery and drive mechanisms, bearings and so on. This task is undertaken by smart sensors. As well as the actual | 22 | Packaging Europe
sensor itself, which captures the magnitude of the relevant parameter, they include integrated micro-processors for processing and analysing the signals. Alongside traditional parameters such as temperature, power usage, torque and pressure, they also record gases and microbial contamination.
Paradigm shift in condition monitoring Traditional maintenance at fixed intervals or at a given number of hours of operation usually takes place too early, for reasons of safety, and thus shortens unnecessarily the running time of still perfectly serviceable components such as drives, shafts and bearings. As a result, companies lose both money and valuable resources. Mechanical damage does not just appear from nowhere. It makes itself known well in advance with unusual noises, vibrations that suddenly appear, or temperature increases, as well as increased power consumption and the like.
These changes can be picked up with the help of intelligent sensors in real time, monitored online and assessed, using appropriate CMS (Condition Monitoring Software). This makes it possible to target maintenance more specifically and provides valuable information on further possible optimisation of machinery and plant.
RFID chips provide a convincing electronic job ticket Radio Frequency Identification makes it possible to transmit data wirelessly in real time between transponders and read-write heads. Integral transponders in slaughtering hooks, feeding troughs, palettes, packaging or machine parts communicate bi-directionally with read-write heads installed at the processing and packaging stations. Thus, for example, not only do the factory-fitted RFID chips in the slicer knives store the geometrical data of the blades, they also store
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the sharpening schedules that go with them and the encoded item and serial numbers. The RFID read-write head installed in the sharpening module reads the data from the blade, identifies it, carries out the appropriate sharpening procedures and then updates the transponder data, including details of remaining serviceability. This principle can be applied to many other processes and procedures along the value creation change.
Visualisation systems The combination of digital camera and image-assessment software provide machines with the ability to see and, with it, open up the possibility of their reacting, in specific and appropriate ways, to changes in their environment and to take decisions. As a result, they can recognise location, position, orientation,
shape, size and colour of all sorts and kinds of object on conveyor belts. The data acquired in this way can then be used, for instance, to control robots and extraction/rejection units or to assess proportions of fat and lean in the in-line classification of bacon cuts as A, B or C class goods. Further applications include checking that packages are complete in number and undamaged, as well as the correct positioning and printing of explanatory and address labels.
Digital twins A digital simulation is more than just a 1:1 digital representation of its physical counterpart. It possesses the same sensors, behaviours, qualities and software, and is linked to other systems in exactly the same way. And that makes it the ideal development tool for designers and builders of plant and installations. Typical areas where the principle can be used include virtual simulations of processes and functional testing of components, component modules, machines and, indeed, whole installations, including the control and application software. This enables designers to flag up and correct errors in advance of actual manufacture and saves costs, time, resources and energy. Professionals working in sales, planning, manufacture and maintenance, from both the manufacturing and consumer sides, can run through, discuss and optimise all the different options with the help of the digital â€˜twinâ€™, as if they were working in the real world. Other possibilities that arise as a result of digital simulation include training for future machine and plant operators and maintenance staff relating to both the system itself and the virtual commissioning system. And finally, the digital simulator can be used to operate and maintain the real plant and equipment in the real world. And this can be done across geographical borders, too. IFFA takes place in Frankfurt on 4-9 May 2019 Packaging Europe | 25 |
PACKAGING LIGHT AS…PAPER?
Hardly a day passes by without the topic of sustainability being discussed in the media. As a result, consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with sustainability issues whilst expecting their brands to keep up with their changing attitudes.
rench brand owner Charcupac was facing this dilemma when they contacted Bemis, a key player on the flexible films market. They wanted to revamp their processed meat packaging sustainably whilst standing out on the supermarket aisle. Charcupac’s Chairman, Fabrice-Levy explains, “The objective was to differentiate our offering and to bring originality through the packaging, that reflects the more traditional and ‘behind the counter’ appeal. We partnered with Bemis who delivered both a technical and visual solution.” Sales Manager for France at Bemis, Sylvain Pendaries, took the lead on this project between Charcupac and Bemis. He shares, “The partnership with the customer was built around three main topics: listening, teamwork and packaging expertise. Listening to the customer needs allowed us to define an offer and answer 100 per cent of their expectations. A dynamic exchange was created to launch this new Charcupac product range in just a few weeks.” Launched in March 2018, Bemis’ R&D team developed Paperly™ – a paper-based packaging. The whole base can be recycled in the fibre stream and it is designed to stand out on shelf and share the company’s sustainability story with its customers. Sylvain Pendaries adds, “At the beginning Paperly™ was sold by Charcupac in France, Benelux and eastern Europe for a distributor. In Belgium, customers pay less on ecotax when the product contains at least 85 per cent by weight of fibre. In other countries the required fibre content may be different, e.g. 50 per cent by weight, to reach a lower tax or a national green dot (or equivalent). Paperly™ is a real success because we answer to our customers’ concerns about environmental impact. Other distributors will start working in the next months with Paperly™.”
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Anne-Marie Abbeel, business development manager at Bemis says, “Paperly™ is a paper-based thermoformable material with high barrier suitable for chilled food like processed meat. We developed a specification that can be recycled in most of the European countries with the paper stream.” With a paper tray made completely from renewable resources and originated from FSC forests, Paperly™ will attract environmentally-conscious consumers who prefer products with a more natural feel and look. Plus, it lowers CO2 emissions by 75 per cent resulting in greater sustainability. Its main application is processed meat, but Bemis can also offer solutions for cheese, poultry, meat and fish. Paperly™ gives packaging a rustic feel and look and can be thermoformed on existing packaging lines with smooth angles. It can be combined with Bemis EZ Peel® and EZ Peel® Reseal™ liddings which can be complemented with Paper-Like™ tactile finish. If desired, this fibrous base can also be used with Bemis SkinTite™ to pack fresh meat or fish. The rigidity of paper and thin high barrier liner allow minimising the use of nonrenewable materials in the tray. The appealing authenticity comes from the light weight, thermal insulation and texture of natural fibres. Furthermore, the appearance of the packaging can be customised e.g. with printing and embossing. “We developed a sustainable specification that fits very well with our topwebs including peelable and recloseable topwebs with requirements fitting to the customer’s demands. You can combine the paper based bottomweb with several of our standard topwebs including barrier films, peelable and recloseable topwebs with antifog and UV protection,” comments Anne-Marie Abbeel. She concludes, “At Bemis, we understand that when your product is just one on an aisle full of similar products, it’s essential it stands out. Our Paperly™ paper-based packaging does exactly that.”
THE RISE OF ASEPTIC CARTONS Aseptic cartons have enjoyed growing popularity thanks to benefits such as enabling ambient distribution, offering product protection, cube efficiency and convenience. According to market research from Data Bridge, the global aseptic packaging market amounted to USD 31.6 billion in 2017, growing at a CAGR of 9.9 per cent during the forecast period of 2018 to 2025. Elisabeth Skoda talks to industry giants Tetra Pak, SIG and Elopak about how aseptic cartons compare with other pack forms and explores recent innovations in the areas of efficiency and sustainability.
septic cartons enable wide distribution of food products at ambient temperatures while maintaining the nutritional quality and safety of the food within markets where chilled food distribution is not well established. “A beverage product is protected,” says Elopak’s environment specialist manager Elisa Gasperini, “by packaging which provides barriers to micro-organisms and physical and chemical factors including light and oxygen which can cause damage to its quality such as loss of flavour, nutritional value and freshness.” This means consumers can store the products for longer without refrigeration and with no preservatives. “For food and beverage manufacturers efficiency, cost-effectiveness and sustainability aspects are also decisive factors for choosing aseptic cartons,” comments Norman Gierow, head of marketing in Europe at SIG, who see them as the perfect package. “They are among the most environ-
mentally friendly packaging solutions. Their main material is paper board made from renewable wood and their lightweight, space-saving design is efficient to make, fill and transport. Carton packs are eye-catching, unbreakable, easy to open and equipped with the all-important convenience factor.”
The consumer is king Many trends impacting on developments in cartons are consumer-driven, as Tetra Pak’s product director Hermant Krashak observes: “We saw two clear trends in the 2018 Tetra Pak Index: a strong desire for convenience and growing sustainability concerns. In terms of convenience, consumers have shown more appreciation for space-efficient packaging. Aseptic carton packaging is designed to be space-efficient but is also beneficial to food producers as it maximises Packaging Europe | 27 |
space during distribution. Consumers are increasingly aware of their environmental impact. The Tetra Classic Aseptic 65ml Cube, responding to this, is designed to enhance distribution efficiency. The dimensions of the package have been designed to allow every six packages to form a cube, hence optimising the use of space in distribution and storage, bringing significant improvement in cost efficiencies and the environmental footprint.” Mr Gierow echoes the importance of sustainability to consumers and highlights consumer mobility as an important driver. “On a global scale, with rising middle classes, people are no longer driven purely by price but by the promise of better sustainability, health, quality and experience. At the same time, the demand for nutritious and affordable food products is growing. Due to shifting demographics and rapid urbanisation, consumers are living more on-the-go lifestyles, which is impacting the way they consume products. They are seeking convenient packaging solutions that are not only easy to use but enhance their experience and reduce their impact on the environment.” But consumers want convenience as well as sustainability, and recent innovation has been directed at conveniently complementing the patterns of daily life. Tetra Pak’s DreamCap is a good example – the ‘Edge’ refers to the slanting top of the package, which is designed to improve the liquid flow and provide space for a large opening on the small, on-the-go carton formats. In addition, consumers like information to be easily accessible. In this respect, Mr Krashak believes that smart packs offer rich potential for a consumer experience. “Every pack sold can carry a unique digital identifier, creating the opportunity for direct one-to-one conversations with consumers,” he remarks. “Our research has also shown that consumers are increasingly looking for novelty and fun in their products, as they use consumption as a means of expressing themselves. The Tetra Pak Index 2018 reveals that brands are expected to appeal to consumers on an ever more personal level, with customisation of products and personalisation set to be key differentiators moving forwards.”
only be achieved by securing greater asset optimisation, configuring the optimal long-term infrastructure that can flexibly handle any operational demand. This is only possible with an optimal production setup, perfectly harmonised processes and a fully automated integration – from raw material intake to shipping finished goods. It’s crucial to get the most out of filling units, reduce the risk of downtime and to connect, automate and monitor lines, while driving down costs.”
Reducing the environmental impact All three manufacturers agree that aseptic carton packaging plays an important role in reducing food waste and minimising the carbon footprint. Ms Gasperini points out: “Aseptic packaging does not require refrigeration and thus saves energy in the storage of the product. Food waste is a primary concern and aseptic packaging helps to reduce food waste by allowing for extended shelf life, whilst keeping the product fresh and maintaining nutritional value. Beverage cartons are lightweight and easy to transport.” “Complemented by resealable closures, these packages can further help extend the life of products and reduce waste in the home,” Mr Krashak adds. Mr Gierow highlights independent life cycle assessments that he claims have shown a better environmental performance by aseptic cartons than glass, HDPE or PET bottles, pouches and cans. “Aseptic cartons are made from 70-80 per cent liquid packaging board, which comes from wood. This means the LPB in our packs has a very low carbon footprint compared with other packaging materials. Secondly, the efficient shape of aseptic cartons means that after filling they can be stacked together closely with minimal wasted space. A trailer of filled carton packs carries around 95 per cent content with just five per cent of the space taken by the packaging. This makes cartons more efficient to transport than round shapes, such as bottles, resulting in fewer trucks on the roads, less fuel used and less space needed to store the products.”
Beverage carton 4.0
Overcoming challenges with innovations
Consumers are also increasingly vociferous in their desire for assurance about product security – and the added value of traceability is hastening investment in digital manufacturing technologies with wider benefits at the bottom line. Automation is now at full swing in the industry, and Tetra Pak for one is introducing its ‘factory of the future’ human–AI collaboration vision at the Hannover Messe as we go to press. “As filling plants and factories operate on an unprecedented scale, production lines need to be more flexible, individualised and agile to handle periods of higher outputs and faster product changes,” Mr Gierow comments. “This can
With consumers increasingly conscious of the problems associated with packaging waste, circularity has emerged as a major focus for innovation. Elopak’s director of strategic marketing & product management, Paul Sweeting highlights the Pure-Pak® Aseptic system for UHT products and the EPS120A filling machine from Elopak: “In August 2017 Elopak launched PurePak® cartons with Natural Brown Board, giving a natural feel and look to the carton, whilst removing layers and improving environmental impact. Consumers instinctively choose this as a more sustainable product and some customers have converted from plastic bottles to using this package. The Pure-Pak®
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gable top carton is now being used in long life milk and plant-based beverage applications in addition to juices and still drinks. The Pure-Pak® carton offers a premium image and the best pouring characteristics.” Mr Gierow is keen to point out the challenge to make packs even more sustainable, and efforts are being made to also source the other key materials – aluminium and polymers – responsibly. “Certifications for the polymers and aluminium materials are not as well established as FSCTM but we’ve been exploring suitable options.” He highlights that the polymers used for laminating the paperboard and making the spout for SIGNATURE PACK – which he claims is the world’s first aseptic carton pack with a clear link to 100 per cent plant-based renewable materials – originate from renewable European wood sources and are certified according to ISCC PLUS (International Sustainability & Carbon Certification) or CMS 71 (TÜV SÜD certification standard) respectively, via a mass balance system. “We’re also at the forefront of efforts to drive a new certification programme from the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) – the ASI Performance Standard Material Stewardship Principle. SIG is the first in the industry to achieve certification to this programme, which is designed to recognise and collaboratively foster responsible production, sourcing and stewardship of aluminium.” All three companies emphasise that their cartons are fully recyclable, as well as sourced from FSCTM certified wood. But how many cartons today actually get recycled? The latest figures indicate that levels across Europe linger at 48 per cent. The technical challenge, of course, is the laminated layers of paper and barrier materials, which can be hard to separate in an economically viable way. In this context, Tetra Pak’s collaboration with Veolia (discussed in our interview with Laurent Auguste in the previous edition of Packaging Europe) will be of critical importance.
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CHEMICAL RECYCLING GAINS TRACTION Last year Packaging Europe began to take a closer interest in chemical recycling – not a new concept in itself but one gaining momentum in the context of the challenges of dealing with plastic waste. At the time there were only a handful of chemical recycling facilities in business, and early stage R&D and pilot projects. Libby White takes a look at how the process and discussion has evolved one year later, spurred on by the strong limelight on the need for sustainability and circular economy in the packaging industry. Carlos Monreal
22 January 2019, as a sign of the times, a new non-profit organisation, Chemical Recycling Europe, was created with the vision of establishing an industry platform for developing and promoting cutting-edge chemical recycling technologies for polymer waste across Europe. The new association aims to deepen collaboration with the EU Institutions and develop positive industry-wide relationships throughout the whole chemical recycling value chains in Europe in order to boost specific polymer recycling. Commenting on the importance of chemical recycling in the circular economy, Carlos Monreal, Chemical Recycling Europe President says, “It is the right time to enhance the opportunities for chemical recycling in Europe in order for the plastics industry to be fully circular. We will work together with all stakeholders having an interest in our activities and we want to ensure a ‘plastics back to plastics’ development in order to differentiate our activity from incineration. “Our chemical recycling companies will handle the more difficult plastic waste that can’t be mechanically recycled and is still being landfilled or incinerated today. Chemical recycling is therefore a complementary solution for recycling end-of-life plastics and an important additional step for the circularity of the plastics industry even at global level.”
DuPont Teijin Films has announced the launch of its new LuxCR™ depolymerisation process which up-cycles post consumer waste into a variety of technically advanced BOPET films serving a wide range of applications and markets. The use of recycled content is a critical part of DuPont Teijin Films’ circular economy strategy, and the upcycling of PET through the LuxCR™ process also marks an important step forward in chemical recycling technology for the wider polyester industry. Although mechanical recycling will continue to play an important role in the circular economy, it does have some limitations with regards to the physical and mechanical properties of the recycled product over repeated cycles and also in the food contact compliance area where certain end use applications are temperature restricted. The LuxCR™ process resolves these two issues by depolymerising mechanically recovered PET flake back into BHET (Bis 2-Hydroxyethyl Terephthalate) which is chemically indistinguishable from virgin monomer. This base monomer is then repolymerised into a polyester polymer which is subsequently converted into BOPET film. Initial commercial launches are planned in Q2 across a range of packaging formats and will include high temperature food contact applications such as ready meal lidding and ovenable flow wrap structures.
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Although the initial focus for the LuxCR™ process is to provide a feedstock to DuPont Teijin Films’ own film manufacturing lines, feasibility studies are underway to see if the scope can be extended to include the external sale of polymer which would open up the technology to applications such as PET bottles and trays. Also focused on food packaging, Styrenics Circular Solutions, the joint industry initiative to accelerate circularity for styrenic polymers, and Agilyx, developer of chemical recycling technologies for plastics, have shared promising results from the depolymerisation of various post-consumer polystyrene waste samples. In a project aimed at supporting SCS in unlocking the intrinsic circularity potential of polystyrene, SCS has provided Agilyx with mixed plastic waste samples, mainly from food packaging, such as yogurt pots. The samples were collected and sorted in several European countries, such as Germany, France and Belgium. Agilyx evaluated the composition of the waste feedstock and subsequently recycled it back into their original monomer, using its proprietary depolymerisation technology. SCS aims at further improving the styrene monomer yield from the depolymerisation process while reducing co- products. “We want to find the optimal purity level of post-consumer plastic waste, before we move on to replicate the results at a commercial unit,” explains Dr Norbert Niessner, SCS Chair of Technologies.
Three-year goals US chemical firm Eastman is focusing on the UK, amongst other European countries, for the introduction of its chemical recycling process, particularly in light of targets for recycled content in new plastic packaging products. Using a process known as methanolysis, which sees heat, pressure and methanol applied to the material, Eastman says it can treat low-grade polyester wastes, breaking them down into their constituent ‘polymer building blocks’. The resulting outputs, which include the monomers dimethyl terephthalate and ethylene glycol, can then be used to produce new polymers for use in a wide range of applications. Although there are established outlets for the mechanical recycling of products such as PET bottles – whereby the material is collected, sorted, washed and shredded or granulated – the process is dependent on the availability of high-quality material feedstocks and the polymers have a finite lifespan. Chemical recycling is seen as having potential to produce a higher quality output, and can be applied to lower-quality, more contaminated mixed loads. Eastman says that its ‘advanced circular recycling’ process could complement existing mechanical recycling applications. Mark J. Costa, Eastman’s board chair and chief executive, says: “We recognise that plastic waste is a complex problem that needs advanced solutions. As we have engaged potential partners, it is clear there is high interest across the entire value chain.” Eastman is currently carrying out a feasibility study on the design and construction of a commercial scale methanolysis facility and has says it has engaged in initial discussions with potential partners on the development of such a plant. Its goal is to be operating a full-scale, advanced circular recycling facility within the next three years. Also working towards a three-year goal, PureCycle Technologies has partnered with Milliken & Company and Nestlé S.A. to accelerate plastics | 32 | Packaging Europe
recycling by moving forward with plans to open its first plant to restore virgin-like attributes to waste polypropylene for consumer facing applications. PureCycle’s patented recycling process, developed and licensed by Procter & Gamble, separates colour, odour and other contaminants from plastic waste feedstock to transform it into virgin-like resin. Milliken, whose additives will play a critical role in reinvigorating recycled polypropylene, has formed an exclusive supply relationship with PureCycle to help solve the plastics end-of-life challenge. Nestlé is working with PureCycle to develop new packaging materials that help avoid plastic waste, in line with the company’s commitment to make 100 per cent of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025. “These partners are helping us accelerate as we bring this solution to the market,” adds Mike Otworth, CEO of PureCycle Technologies. “This is a validation of our method, and it will help us continue to move even more quickly as we make plastics recycling a reality.” With technology licensed from P&G, PureCycle is in the midst of building the first plant in Lawrence County, Ohio, that will recycle 119 million pounds of polypropylene, producing over 105 million pounds per year starting in 2021. The momentum created by these new relationships is enabling PureCycle to open the plant’s feedstock evaluation unit, which processes multiple variations of feedstock (waste polypropylene) to optimise plant one and subsequent plants. PureCycle Technologies will make high quality, recycled PP widely available for purchase across industries. “Our approach to innovation not only includes products and packaging, but technologies that allow us and others to have a positive impact on our environment. This technology has the capacity to revolutionise the plastics recycling industry by enabling P&G and companies around the world to tap into sources of recycled plastics that deliver nearly identical performance and properties as virgin materials in a broad range of applications,” sums up Kathy Fish, Chief Research, Development and Innovation Officer, Procter & Gamble. Momentum has clearly taken hold of the packaging industry and only time will tell (three years to put a timescale on it) if we can start reaping the benefits of the multiple seeds being sown.
SCANNING THE NEW RETAIL LANDSCAPE It’s no big news to say that the way we consume is changing. And, ever mindful of consumer demands, retailers and brand owners are evolving to cater to these new habits. Victoria Hattersley looks at two of the biggest of these retail trends: the growth in smaller, ‘convenience’ stores and corresponding increase in single-serve pack formats; and of course, the massive and continued rise of e-commerce.
hen we talk about ‘new retail formats’ in relation to packaging, we look at how these different purchasing channels are driving innovation. If the customer wants their goods delivered to them – whether that’s by subscription or one-off purchase – or they want to buy smaller meals that can be heated up in minutes, then brand owners and retailers need to provide this in the most sustainable way possible. Key challenges presented by these new retail formats include the need to protect products, to reduce packaging waste, reduce CO2 during transit and to enable brand owners to maintain their image across various channels. To this, we should add the fact that consumers themselves are far more attuned to the environmental implications of packaging. According to Mintel, 78 per cent of consumers agree brands should work to make packaging more environmentally friendly and 59 per cent of millennial shoppers say environmental responsibility is an important factor in product choice.
“The right tools are now available” Whichever retail format we are discussing, there is one challenge that remains the same –sustainable pack design. As always, this comes down to the tensions between downgauging while maintaining product protection; reducing plastic waste while maintaining resource efficiency. With e-commerce, one important consideration is the problem of ‘empty space’. We’ve all received huge cardboard boxes in the mail, containing one
small product surrounded by a plethora of packaging materials, creating a huge and unnecessary amount of waste and CO2 emissions. It’s by no means as simple a problem to solve as we might think. “With expectations of next day or even same day delivery the pressure on logistics is immense,” says Martin Kersh of the Foodservice Packaging Association. “Order picking and consolidation systems have become very sophisticated, however the speed with which we want our goods delivered means some orders will inevitably arrive in a box considered by purchasers to be too big. The first duty of online retailers is to make sure the order is correct and arrives undamaged and the vast majority does arrive undamaged. Light weighting, although desirable for both the consumer and retailer, mustn’t come at the expense of an increase in damaged goods which would have a far greater environmental impact.” DS Smith is a good example of a company making strides in reducing empty space in packaging. Its ‘Made2Fit’ system is designed to both lower order volumes and also prevent product movement, helping to reduce damage. “We want to show the consumer that the right tools are now available to ensure cost efficiency and improve sustainability, while creating a nice customer experience,” says Santiago Soria of DS Smith. “With Made2Fit, we have can create boxes according to the dimensions of the products to pack. The E-box Range Optimiser is another solution to this challenge, as its algorithm can calculate the optimum box suite with minimum shipping air, based on the dimensions of the products.” Packaging Europe | 35 |
In-store pack design When it comes to the increasing number of smaller convenience stores springing up everywhere we look, there are other considerations to bear in mind. More and more, we see consumers visiting such stores each day to pick up their food, rather than doing a weekly, or even fortnightly, shop. And alongside this comes an increase in demand for single-serve packages. According to a recent market research report by Technavio, the global single-serve packaging market is expected to post a CAGR of around five per cent during the period 2018-2022. For retailers, one of the biggest challenges here is to minimise food waste. As I have heard many times over the past few weeks, ‘the least sustainable option is product waste.’ And bear in mind that, according to the United Nations Environment Program, up to 30 per cent of food produced globally does in fact go to waste. “Packaging that delivers smaller portions as single-serve packages offers an additional, yet vital, benefit,” says Fabienne Vanhorenbeke, VP marketing & innovation at Bemis Packaging. “It helps to minimise food waste by ensuring more product is consumed rather than disposed of, helping to fight the battle for food waste reduction. But this also creates its own problems. “While portion control helps deal with the problem of food waste, it also actually creates more packaging, which must be dealt with by the consumer,” says Olga Munroe of the Retail Institute. “This is also an issue if you are an online food delivery company – how do you then collect your own material if you want to help implement a circular economy? Consumers won’t necessarily wash the pack and put it back when you deliver the next batch. This means you have to sort food grade material in another way. “There is one possible model in which companies could ask consumers to bring their packaging to either the retail store or to even collect that material directly from consumers. The challenge is that there are not enough companies considering this model to facilitate it on a bigger scale.” Andrew Grimbaldeston of Colpac says cartonboard modified atmosphere packaging is a strong solution for reducing packaging and recyclability in convenience food. “With MAP you can put a sandwich in the pack and it will last for days, especially if you’re clever with the ingredients. We’re seeing increased use of this technology for European retailers, but interestingly not in the UK. Perhaps this is down to an increased preference for freshly prepared food in that market – something that could not be so easily replicated in a more spread-out Europe.”
Product protection Aside from food, there are many delicate or valuable items being shipped around the world today that need to be protected. This is increasingly relevant | 36 | Packaging Europe
when it comes to e-commerce, where there are far more touch points than traditional retail – up to 20 or even as much as 50, compared with the previous five to seven. In e-commerce packaging, most of the damage will occur in the last mile – when the product leaves the e-tailer or warehouse and is shipped to the consumer. Naturally, a lot of work has gone into mitigating this increased damage risk – and corrugated giants such as Smurfit Kappa (as outlined by Gérard van de Boogaard elsewhere in this magazine) and DS Smith have been among the organisations working hard at adapting to these demands. “At the e-tailer there are a lot of different touch points,” says Mr Soria. “They move from conveyers, to trucks, to warehouses, from national to local hubs and finally, delivery to and return from the consumer. That’s why we developed the DISCS concept for e-commerce.” Named after the types of testing (Drop, Impact, Shock, Crush, Shake), the patented system consists of five pieces of equipment, each replicating a part of the product journey and therefore providing real world testing. In short, it is there to test whether a package can survive the hazardous journey from producer to consumer.
It’s all in the unboxing With the proliferation of online videos on the subject, it would be surprising if most of us are not now familiar with the term ‘unboxing experience’. A few years ago, it would have seemed unfathomable that hundreds of thousands of us would eagerly tune in to online channels to watch a product being slowly removed from its packaging – accompanied by a minute analysis of the package and product presentation. And yet this is the reality many brand owners today have to consider. The rise and rise of social media means that the consumer wields more power than they ever have before. Ten years ago, it was accepted that products would be delivered in plain brown boxes. Now, they are coming directly from brands so consumers often expect more than just product protection from the package – particularly if they are buying a premium product. If the packaging fails, this can also negatively impact on the consumer’s perception of the product. That ‘moment of truth’ we hear so much about is key. Custom-branded packs are just one way of making that moment of proof a positive one – and also meet the growing demand for personalisation. An increasing number of companies are springing up to offer this service. Packhelp, to give just one example, is a Warsaw-based startup that allows users to design
and order their own custom-branded packaging. An intuitive web app allows anyone to design and order their own packaging with a few clicks. Household names such as H&M, Uber and Wrangler are just some of the companies that have been using this service. Moving on to brand presentation for in-store formats, it is desirable today if a brand can provide a good consumer experience while also conveying its sustainability credentials. For example, last year Bemis launched its Paperly™ paper-based packaging designed to do just this. “The whole base can be recycled in the fibre stream and it is designed to stand out on shelf and share the company’s sustainability story with its customers,” says Fabienne Vanhorenbeke. “With a paper tray made completely from FRC certified renewable resources, Paperly™ will attract environmentally-conscious consumers who prefer products with a more natural feel and look. Plus, it lowers CO2 emissions by 75 per cent resulting in greater sustainability.”
A world of possibilities At first glance, ordering online and visiting a small retail outlet to make purchases seem like polar opposites. Visiting a shop to buy a snack or on-the-go
meals provides instant gratification, while ordering online delays the gratification. But in fact, you could argue that both of these formats are essentially doing the same thing: giving the time-poor consumer what they want in terms of convenience and simplicity. They are two parts of the same coin. Casting an eye forward, we expect that some of the more exciting technological developments to complement the new retail landscape will be in the areas of smart packaging for conveying product information or freshness indicators – think printable RFID tags – for which there has been limited uptake in Europe so far. When it comes to e-commerce, there is also an increasing buzz around the concept of re-usable packaging. Take Danish company RePack, which provides re-usable bags for online retail in three adjustable sizes made to last for at least 20 cycles. When empty, they can be folded into letter size and returned free of charge, anywhere in the world. There are so many more issues to consider – the question of omnichannel packaging, for example, being another topic well worth covering – that all we can do here is provide a mere snapshot. Over the coming months we will strive to cover more of the many game-changing innovations that are doubtless already in development.
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DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SENSORS? Electronic tracking of medication, flexible electronic connectivity, and battery-free sensor tags? These all sound like they are straight from an alternate universe in a Philip K. Dick novel; however, innovation today in the real world is smart. Libby White explores the potential of three cutting-edge solutions in printed electronics and their applications in the packaging industry.
he global printed electronics market is expected to reach USD 17.26 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 11.21 per cent from 2018 to 2025, according to the 2017 Fior Markets report spotlighting this technology. It points to increasing Internet of Things penetration, the evolvement of digital print technology, low cost of manufacturing, demand for robust and flexible substrates for producing secure printed electronics, and eco-friendly technology as the major trends. The rise of digital print technology has also increased the adoption of printed electronics globally.
Connectivity PragmatIC, a leader in ultra-low cost flexible electronics, has announced the first products in its ConnectIC family, the PR1101 and PR1102 flexible integrated circuits, designed for use in closed HF RFID systems. Developed using PragmatIC’s platform of patented technologies, these FlexICs are ultra-thin and flexible; suitable for embedding into a wide range of substrates, including paper and plastic; and reduce the complexity of
inlays by using single layer antennas, delivering a further step down in cost to brand owners and retailers. Aimed at FMCGs and other mass market applications, electronic connectivity is no longer limited to high value, luxury items. The PR1100 product series facilitates rapid detection of objects when one or more low-cost custom readers are integrated into the system. Designed for proximity identification applications, these FlexICs are suitable for applications including hierarchical inventory management, item identification and tracking, supply chain assurance and brand authentication. They are targeted at market segments such as food and beverage, personal and home care, pharmaceutical and healthcare. “The ConnectIC family is set to bring connectivity to items we buy every day,” says Scott White, CEO of PragmatIC. “We have already started shipping to our partners and we anticipate rapid expansion based on clear opportunities for global customers with extensive brand portfolios who wish to add traceability and interactivity to their products.” Packaging Europe | 39 |
Digital therapy monitoring Schreiner MediPharm’s new ‘Smart Vial Kit’ enables electronic tracking and monitoring of medication dispensing and intake. The Kit is a multi-vial box covered with a cardboard layer of continuously numbered, perforated areas corresponding to the individual compartments. When the user opens a perforation at the starter tab the removal of the vial will be tracked by means of integrated, printed electronics. For the purpose of tracking, data are generated in real time – such as the exact removal time, the compartment from which the vial was removed and the respective medication. All data are automatically stored in the smart packaging and can be read via a smartphone app using NFC (Near Field Communication) or Bluetooth and transmitted to a data platform for further analysis. As a result, the medication dispensed to a patient can be precisely tracked and monitored. The Smart Vial Kit can be optionally complemented by temperature monitoring which is particularly important for temperature-sensitive, liquid substances such as biopharmaceuticals. Additionally, via the associated app, diverse information can be exchanged or a reminder function integrated. The Smart Vial Kit is well-suited for use in clinical trials: owing to the solution’s medication adherence monitoring capability, enhanced and more reliable data quality is achieved. Compared with conventional, manual monitoring, the digital tool reduces documentation requirements, provides greater flexibility in adapting trial designs and reduces the trial period before the new medicine is approved. The smart packaging technology is also adaptable to other primary containers such as syringes. Instead of cardboard boxes, blister packs containing several containers can be equipped with the technology as well.
Battery-free Anticipating a future where paper thin battery-free Bluetooth sensors connect people with packaging and products, Wiliot and Avery Dennison discuss the potential of the first battery-free Bluetooth® sticker sensor tag, which has recently raised a $30 million series B for a total of $50 million in funding. A Wiliot chip glued to a simple antenna printed on plastic or paper can authenticate the proximity of a product by transmitting an encrypted serial number along with weight and temperature data from a device the size of a postage stamp. Eliminating most of the components associated with traditional Bluetooth, these tags lower sale and maintenance costs to previously unachievable levels. The tags use Wiliot’s breakthrough in nanowatt computing | 40 | Packaging Europe
to communicate with any device enabled by Bluetooth Low Energy, such as smartphones, Wi-Fi access points and Internet of Things devices that can connect to digital displays, Wi-Fi and LTE cellular networks. Steve Statler, SVP marketing & business development, Wiliot explains the journey so far and Francisco Melo, VP & GM, Global RFID, Avery Dennison outlines why they have invested in this potentially ground-breaking technology. Steve Statler shares, “Wiliot has been working on this technology since its inception in 2017. We’re at a point now where we have a working concept, and this funding will help us take the vital next step towards full commercialisation. “That’s one area in which we see Avery Dennison’s participation in the round as a strategic investor and partner as extremely exciting. The manufacturing expertise within the organisation when it comes to making packaging and labelling innovation commercially viable at scale will certainly help us drive forward towards our goal.” Francisco Melo adds: “The fact this sensor tag communicates via the Bluetooth standard makes it very interesting – it delivers functionality outside the realm of RFID tags, enabling seamless interaction for consumers using their smartphones rather than requiring specialist hardware. Understanding how consumers use and interact with products beyond the point of sale – for some time a closed door to brands – is a vital part of enabling full end-to-end supply chain insight, and this technology has the potential to complement existing and future RFID- and QR-based solutions. “And, of course, sustainability is increasingly becoming a top priority for brands and consumers alike. The fact that the Wiliot Bluetooth sensor tag runs off energy harvested from ambient radio frequencies, rather than an on-board battery, not only means that it can in theory run indefinitely– significantly reducing cost and waste – but also that it can be disposed of much more sustainably.”
NOLUMA: THE IMPORTANCE OF LIGHT PROTECTION IN PACKAGING Scientific studies have shown that light of any kind – whether in the supermarket, refrigerator, kitchen, or through a window – can cause food, beverages, and cosmetic products to degrade faster – often before they meet the expiration date.
ith milk and other dairy products, for example, exposure to such light affects its taste, freshness, and nutritional value. Milk contains components that are sensitive to light, including riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2. Noluma International, LLC uses technology developed to assess, measure, and certify light protection in packaging. Its unique, patented technology measures the light protection capacity of packaging as a function of its effects on the product contents. Noluma’s technology is fast, enabling companies to quickly innovate their package design. Its testing process replicates two weeks of light exposure in just two hours. Furthermore, the company says it can measure nutrient changes caused by light exposure 99 per cent more efficiently and accurately than conducting a standard evaluation with a panel of expert taste testers. Noluma is the only company that certifies products as meeting the highest standards of light protection. A Noluma™ certification means that a product’s freshness, nutrition, efficacy and sensory qualities will be protected from light damage as best as scientifically possible through its packaging for the shelf life of the product.
Innovation Spotlight: About the technology The patented technology Noluma uses is integral to certifying that packaging protects brands – whether a food, beverage, cosmetic or pharmaceutical product – as best as scientifically possible from the negative impacts of light, throughout the full shelf life of the product. The company says it is the first | 42 | Packaging Europe
technology of its kind to take into account quality change when measuring packaging light protection. Noluma laboratories are located in the USA, Taiwan and in the EU.
How does it work? First, Noluma’s research team uses a known marker ingredient in a solution inside a test package and exposes the package to intense light. The researchers and scientists on the Noluma team then measure the degree to which the marker is damaged after light exposure. The extent to which those markers are damaged or absent reveals the extent to which the freshness and / or quality has also been degraded. The changes to the marker are measured to determine the Light Protection Factor (LP) that’s needed for the packaging to reach optimal light protection capacity (total light block). In the case of dairy, the marker is riboflavin (vitamin B2), the nutrient that becomes unstable when exposed to light, affecting the quality of the milk. The Noluma team measures how much riboflavin diminishes or disappears when measured through the Noluma testing process. The team can then assess the effectiveness of the packaging, and offer guidance on how to redesign packaging to adequately protect from light damage. As Noluma doesn’t sell packaging, it can objectively collaborate with clients to find the most effective ways to enhance the light protection of packaging while meeting other goals, such as environmental sustainability. Watch Noluma’s technology in action here: https://youtu.be/RCkD66yp-y0
ON THE NEED FOR A FUNDAMENTAL E-THINK
Smurfit Kappa’s supply chain specialist Gérard van den Boogaard spends much of his working life helping customers adapt to e-commerce; a transformation in the supply chain which presents a mind-boggling array of variables, and overturns almost all of the suppositions that have served logistics and tertiary packaging well until now. Gérard conveyed his thoughts on the first steps of optimisation to Tim Sykes at Smurfit Kappa’s Global Experience Centre at Schiphol.
reventing product damage is the starting consideration in designing a corrugated box and it’s the first of several aspects in which e-commerce completely changes the paradigm. In traditional bricksand-mortar supply chains you’re limited to two or three handling moments in fairly controlled and standardised conditions. If there is a drop, it’s treated as an ‘incident’ that the retailer will take charge of. With e-commerce drops are to be expected and a broken product at the end of the supply chain is a disaster. At the same time there are far more variables; you can’t define the standard behaviour of a single product with the same primary packaging because supply chain conditions are different every time. All of our historic assumptions go out the window. The likes of Amazon and big logistics suppliers of course want to create new frameworks to deal with these challenges. ‘Frustration Free’ is a great objective but we’re still at the first step and we expect more nuances in the future approach. For instance, we had a customer who was selling yoga mats through e-commerce and in order to meet the standards, the packaging had to undergo drop tests! In the future we need to move beyond one-size-fits-all: yoga mats and porcelain cups have different requirements. Similarly, shipping is very different across geographies. I’m sure that in a couple of years the e-commerce standards will recognise that shipping from A to B in the Netherlands, for instance, is different from shipping between A and B in Russia.
“How much damage is acceptable?” Another nuance we need to grapple with is that while everyone agrees they want to avoid damage, all too often what exactly a customer means by ‘damage’ is not defined. If it’s coffee pods, do we mean that the product itself doesn’t leak, or that the pods are in pristine condition, or that the secondary sleeve is in perfect condition? Some of our customers would even prefer that the outer box doesn’t get damaged – but absorbing the energy and getting damaged is the actual purpose of the outer box! Smurfit Kappa can always design a box that meets the protective brief but first we need to define clear parameters. The crucial question is what level of damage the customer finds acceptable (keeping the consumer in mind). Another way of approaching this issue is to design products so that they themselves can withstand a defined level of impact. Certain industries already think in this way. In electronics, for instance, a phone is designed to withstand drops, whereas a television is not. A company that manufactures televisions has probably figured out that it’s more resourceefficient to accept that one in a thousand units will get damaged than to design every TV to be droppable. Maybe FMCG industries also need to start thinking about designing minimal strength requirements into the primary product. Packaging Europe | 43 |
The array of supply chain variables is overturning most of our suppositions
However, another way to avoid damage is to optimise the supply chain. Amazon’s Frustration Free Packaging is a good first step, but also puts the responsibility for preventing damage on the vendors and brands; I think we are likely to see some supply chain innovation in the future. Creating packaging that can withstand 17 drops means using a lot of corrugated. Should it be up to packaging to deliver zero risk or up to the supply chain to ensure there are fewer drops? Hopefully we’ll end up somewhere in the middle.
“My daily job can be mind-boggling” Space efficiency is another area where we have to rethink much of what we know from bricks-and-mortar experience. My daily job can be quite mindboggling! With any project I’m looking at getting a truck full, the maximum number of layers on a pallet – metrics that were optimised at design stage in traditional supply chains. Now suddenly you have a single bottle in a huge box. In e-commerce 40 per cent void could be an acceptable target. In addition, cube fill is challenging when you have boxes of different sizes and no control over orientation of boxes. Aside from these practical considerations, there is a lot of talk about how e-commerce enables a direct communication between brand and consumer, and how personalised or bespoke packaging may be important in creating a good experience. However, often what we really need is a fit-for-purpose experience. For example, Smurfit Kappa has conducted some market research which found that when a consumer bought an expensive bottle of whisky or cognac, their top priority wasn’t the beautiful unboxing experience: what mattered was | 44 | Packaging Europe
being convinced that the expensive bottle was well protected. Consumers responded more positively to brown boxes with protective void fill than to a white coated substrate.
“The basic functionality of a box is also an element of consumer experience” These things differ from case to case. For a premium brand like Apple it’s important to invest in an unboxing experience. For other brands it’s different. But generally speaking, the functional requirements of the box are also priorities for the consumer. The first job of the box is to prevent product damage, and that’s also what matters most to the consumer. Consumers also get upset about excessive unnecessary void fill – this is in fact also an element of consumer experience. Another consideration when thinking about decoration and personalisation of boxes is that different couriers stick a variety of different labels on the boxes, so often the messages on the exterior are completely covered up. The inside of the box is a different matter. When it comes to digital print, everyone is excited by the potential of latestage customisation. But before we rush to change our printing presses, we should also ask ourselves whether it is technology or brand owners’ business systems that cause the bottlenecks at the moment. A brand like Coca-Cola has probably already designed its 2019 Christmas campaign in February. Often here at Smurfit Kappa we find that the flexibility of digital print is not fully utilised compared to analogue printing. The problem is that to leverage digital technology,
marketing teams also have to be more agile, be ready to change campaigns at short notice, perhaps to rationalise the number of meetings and levels of signoff. In the meantime, we are capable of changing the artwork with traditional print in little more than a day. So perhaps customisation is more of a business systems challenge than a technology problem.
“Optimisation in e-commerce requires a case-bycase approach” Smurfit Kappa has a wide portfolio so we don’t set out to sell one particular solution to our clients. The emphasis is on finding the right solution. That means always starting by analysing the contents of the box. There’s a big difference between designing packaging for a €700 item of kitchen equipment or for a pharmaceutical company with multiple SKUs in a single box. With single items it’s simpler – you know the parameters for buffering, packing etc. It’s more challenging with multi-items, where e-tailers themselves hardly know what they are going to sell and when. In this case you need to turn to the data. We’ve developed a void fill reduction tool that looks at average volumes and distributions and computes the optimal range of pack sizes and dimensions. It enables the customer to look at permutations such as what the implications for void would be if they changed, for instance, from stocking nine different box sizes to seven. Smurfit Kappa has also developed a supply chain analysis tool called ePackExpert, which assesses protective requirements based on actual conditions of supply chain and product vulnerability. A yoga mat doesn’t need to be treated
the same way as a television. A controlled supply chain with a single logistics partner in a domestic market may not need the same ‘worst case scenario’ packaging used across global distribution. And the product cost is another consideration: if the value of the product is low, the value to the customer of protecting it is also lower. The ePackExpert tool takes all of these variables into consideration. You could view this as a second step in the Frustration Free ethos.
Gérard van den Boogaard
Packaging Europe | 45 |
TUBETTIFICIO FAVIA PRESENTS TOBENATURAL Tubettificio Favia is proud to present the latest addition to its collapsible aluminum tubes range: ToBeNaturAl, the completely green evolution of ToBeUnique.
he company aims to respond to the increasing demands from the marketplace: consumers are showing a greater awareness of environmental issues by changing their purchasing choices based on ethical criteria. Brands, especially those who openly call themselves ‘green’, are held accountable in every aspect of the production chain, including choices regarding packaging. And this trend seems to be set to grow, as demonstrated by the viral success on social media of environmental initiatives, such as the documentary ‘Journey of a plastic bottle’ by the Italian explorer Alex Bellini or the ‘no box toothpaste’ campaign launched by the YouTuber Alan’s Theory against secondary packaging considered superfluous, or the media impact of charismatic characters like the young Greta Thunberg. After the European Union banned disposable plastic last year, public attention is increasingly focused on brands and their approach to packaging. The adoption of sustainable packaging by brands can become a strong driver to stand out on shelf. The packaging industry is therefore called upon to provide new solutions capable of maintaining high quality standards but at the same time understanding this new widespread sensitivity.
Tradition and innovation Tubettificio Favia decided to develop a technological solution that combines both tradition and innovation to produce a sustainable solution. ToBeNaturAL was the result- consisting of a collapsible aluminium tube with a biodegradable closure cap. Collapsible aluminium tubes are already identified as an excellent example of “green” packaging for the properties of aluminium.
Favia focused its production solely on collapsible aluminium tubes due to the sustainability of the material. Tubes caps, however, are generally manufactured in hard plastic. Now, with ToBeNaturAL, there is an alternative to plastic that turns the whole tube into a “green packaging”: a bio-technopolymer called IamNature®, developed by the Italian group Maip, which recently won the international Bioplastics Award. The innovative material was transformed into caps by Aba Srl, a leading company in plastic moulding for the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. The aluminium tube can be recycled and the bioplastic cap can be thrown directly into the household organic waste after use, turning into humus for the soil- food for plants. ToBeNaturAL lends itself to all digital printing processes on aluminium, including traditional offset printing and ToBeUnique, the exclusive Favia digital printing technique that involves both the aluminium tube and the cap in a single process. For quality graphic rendering, the uniqueness of the ToBeUnique print is considered a valid anti-counterfeiting solution. It is also possible to implement StealthCode® technology with ToBeNaturAL, a code invisible to the human eye that can be detected through a special free mobile app, available in the official iOS and Android stores. With this smart solution, any part of the tube can be scanned to be redirected to exclusive digital contents, such as a video, text, landing page or survey. As a result, StealthCode® makes secondary packaging superfluous and turns green packaging into a digital communication tool, with a big difference compared to a QRCode: it does not disturb the graphics and is impossible to counterfeit. Packaging Europe | 47 |
ON SECOND THOUGHTS... THE WORLD’S CHANGING. IS INDUSTRY LISTENING? Haulwen Nicholas (founder of the Packaging Oracle) argues that the current leadership of the packaging world needs to make space for a new generation.
or once I wasn’t the youngest person in the building. I’ve been in the packaging industry for 20 years and I’m often still one of the youngest present in a meeting. This Jaunary I was in Berlin, in a building filled with lots of small start-up companies, each in their own little pods, but coming together for lunch and coffee to share ideas. I spoke briefly with some of the people there, along with the organisation I was meeting, and I felt truly alive. For the first time in years it seemed that really innovative ideas were being put forward and I felt excited for the industry. What was so different about this experience? It felt new. As our world changes and develops, it really does seem like many organisations in the industry are left behind in a 1970s to 1990s time warp. Where are the next generation of ideas coming from? Who is going to drive the fundamental change that we need, to tackle the problems we face? When was the last time you discussed a piece of innovation and truly thought, ‘Wow, this is industry changing!’? We must look to the next generation. I meet so many wonderful people in their 20s and 30s who have great ideas, but they do not feel listened to. I have led paid internships with students from universities across Europe, and the experience of many is frustration that no one would give them the opportunities. They’d only be asked to file paperwork or make the coffee. Yet these people are our future. They are the ones we need to listen to, and we need to give them a voice. We have great universities across Europe that deliver specialist courses in packaging. We need to ensure they are being heard by the whole industry, rather than a few elite partners. Showcasing the ideas that these education establishments are working on, as well as the ideas from their students, needs to become a focus, whether at events or via other platforms.
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Inviting a new generation opens our eyes, but we have to be prepared to be open-minded and patient. The world is changing, but many in our industry are not. We have to rethink the way we innovate, the way we share knowledge and the way we do business. This may mean that you set up your innovation team in an exciting young, innovative complex like the one I visited in Berlin. This way ideas are not constrained by the ‘this is the way we do it’ attitude or the fact that ‘we can’t change our machines’, but instead allows for ideas to truly flow. We must remember that younger generations are focused more on experiences than on purchases, and with that we will see less need for packaging, unless it’s made an experience with minimal environmental impact. It also means that work needs to be a positive community experience too. We must offer these people the flexibility within their work to embrace new experiences and with it new ideas, which will benefit the industry. Any business that can jump on these needs will succeed and lead the way. The companies that instil real pride in their work, a sense of community, and employee flexibility, will produce quality products and with it the commercial advantage. Those that embrace the entrepreneurial spirit, who take risks, employ younger, less experienced people and support start-ups will be the industry leaders in the coming years. Often we go back to the same people for inspiration on innovation, getting the same old industry faces to lead the way. We hold competitions but then don’t pursue the ideas or fail to invite the students who entered to come and work in our industry. This needs to change. We must open our minds and eyes to the next generation, both listening and seeing what they have to say. We may not like it, we may feel the ideas don’t pertain to us, but we have to take a step away and consider a future that we won’t be part of. They are the next leaders. It’s time to embrace them now or risk being left behind.