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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 14.5 – 2019

Jesse Roberts

Head of Sales Kevin Gambrill

Senior Sales Executive Dominic Kurkowski

Sales Executive Alain Rizk

IT Support Syed Hassan

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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: editor@packagingeurope.com Studio: production@packagingeurope.com Advertising: jr@packagingeurope.com, kg@packagingeurope.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 Libby White Zappar Past the parameters of physical packaging AIPIA Mining the potential of augmented reality Unilever Exploring always-on connected packaging AR Glasses Seeing is believing 3D Modelling The future belongs to the curious Anthem Connect with consumers Digital Print What’s holding back digitally printed packaging? Robotics From science fiction to reality Sustainability Awards Discover the live event at FachPack Pioneering Sorting Technology HolyGrail project moves towards a circular economy Inspecting, Tracing, Authenticating Food safety across the supply chain Innovation Spotlight Merck upturns possibilities of print Label Leadership Key trends on the market Innovation Spotlight Rovema presents SBS 250 Twin On Second Thoughts... Recycling is not a panacea

Download the free Zappar app to discover bonus content on pages: 4, 7, 8, 10, 13, 33, 36 and the front cover!


EDITORIAL |

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you know, as well as writing about innovation, we like to dabble in it ourselves, so it’s with great pleasure that I welcome you to our unprecedented augmented reality edition of Packaging Europe! In collaboration with Zappar, AR experts, we have brought our print magazine to life with its technology. We hope you have already downloaded the free Zappar app and experienced our front cover in all its glory. Keep an eye out for the featured zapcodes within these pages to unlock extra dynamic content. Simply point your device at the codes to discover the experiences. We had fun filming (using green screen) with Eef de Ferrrante, managing director of the Active and Intelligent Packaging Industry association, and our cover star. As organisers of the rapidly expanding AIPIA World Congress, we couldn’t think of a more prominent figure to introduce you to the potential of this technology. Augmented reality has existed since the early nineties, but within the packaging industry it has yet to cause a mass craze such as with Pokémon Go within the gaming world. So far, this definitive example of AR exemplifies the power it holds to connect. The upwards curve of a connected population and advancements in technology are only set to change the way we interact with the real world, and perhaps even physical packaging. Technological advancements breed hype. But whether the packaging industry adopts and transforms that technology, or it fizzles out - not with a bang but a whimper - is a different matter. Before the advent of mobile phones, we were all familiar with the many naysayers of this device catching on. There are leading figures boldly championing AR however. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple made a rare television appearance in November 2018, on Axios, HBO, to promote the future of AR, describing the technology as “profound.” And whilst I was coordinating this edition, there was an eagerness to talk about augmented reality from across the packaging industry. AR is already showing its potential for meaningful and intuitive applications within other sectors: education, healthcare, navigation, fashion,

Libby White Editor

automotive and defence, to name a few. We explore how the technology can be leveraged within the packaging industry, supported by expert opinion from forward-thinking players, brands, technology providers, designers and machinery experts who have all adopted AR in its infancy. Keep an eye out for the forward-thinking advertisers who enhanced their messages with AR. With demand for omnichannel experiences rising, perhaps this is the key technology to address the crossover of the physical and digital markets, using packaging as its vessel. We receive a stark warning from Eef de Ferrante about maximising the potential of AR, rather than seeing it in its basic format - as a fun gimmick. Perhaps now ‘fun’ applications have piqued the interest of consumers, its real advantages will shine through and develop. Indeed, exploring this particular technology has opened up the overall potential voyage the packaging industry may be heading on towards the future, with regards to providing connected experiences for consumers. Within this issue, we will also explore trends surrounding robotics, traceability in the food chain, and the direction of digitally printed packaging. We check in on the pioneering project HolyGrail, led by Procter & Gamble and facilitated by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Our latest webinars are outlined, another string added to our diverse content bow. Of note, this magazine has also been posted in a mailing bag with strong claims of sustainability and protection. We also anticipate FachPack, one of the biggest trade shows of the year, where we will be hosting our prevalent Sustainability Awards, which are snowballing in status. Make sure to check out all 190 submissions via the accompanying zapcode.

Libby White Libby White lw@packagingeurope.com @PackEuropeLibby

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Smartphone users are gradually becoming familiarised with augmented reality, a readily available technology on the devices that we all carry as extensions of ourselves every day. There are 5.11 billion unique mobile users in the world today, according to DataReportal’s ‘Digital 2019: Global Digital Overview’ report. Conceivably you have encountered key mainstream AR examples, such as filters on social media or the Pokémon Go craze, or perhaps you’re past novice level and have been anticipating the launch of Wizards Unite? hat does this have to do with the packaging industry though? And can packaging leverage the power of this technology? Libby White explores the possibilities with Zappar, an innovative company focused on creating AR experiences, to discover a comprehensive picture of the technology’s potential.

Martin Stahel, sales director, Zappar says, “I’m delighted to see some thought leaders from the packaging community taking part in this issue and sharing their view ‘from the inside’. It is crucially important to educate the industry about a trend that is rapidly taking hold, but more importantly how businesses need to be planning now for how they’re going to compete in this space.”

Passive to active From his vantage point Martin Stahel shares that the most notable development over the last few years has been how the packaging industry has begun to unlock real value with AR: “I’ve certainly seen an increase in popularity through the sheer number of AR experiences. But, I’m more impressed with the way brands are extracting commercial payback from their investment, and that’s driven by evolving their approach and thinking more strategically about how they can leverage AR beyond one-off activations and as an always-on connected platform.” There’s a growing acknowledgment that AR can make existing packaging work much, much harder. “AR is essentially transforming packaging from a passive object into an arena for new possibilities and storytelling - whether that’s a visualisation of an end product to assist sales, an opportunity to start a conversation with a brand’s audience or a mechanism for rewarding customer loyalty with bespoke content,” demonstrates Martin Stahel. “And what’s more, this content exists on a digital channel that’s solely owned and curated by the brand itself - so there’s a direct incentive to grow and build relevant, engaging and personalised digital content to keep users within that environment.”

In layman’s terms Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that enables us to add a digital layer onto the world around us. It connects the physical world of things with the digital world of devices. The sort of AR experiences we can unlock with our smartphones can vary widely – from bringing print to life with animated content, unlocking branded face filters for sharing on social media or interactive and instructional product experiences. The changing attitudes of brands to AR, the increase of purposeful products in consumers’ lives and the commercial opportunities it presents are key. “AR is essentially transforming packaging from a passive object into an arena for new possibilities and storytelling.”

Technological advancements As AR toolkits, smartphone technology and mobile data speeds have evolved, AR experiences are becoming far more complex and involved than ever before. “I’d expect to see even more brands take advantage of world tracking - which means users will be able to directly place 3D content into the world around them, including ‘portals’ which users can physically walk through and explore new worlds,” Martin Stahel comments. “As Gallo Wines showed with its trailblazing campaign, this is a really rich way for brands to essentially ‘teleport’ their audience into a new Packaging Europe | 5 |


SCAN ME Consumer engagement Mini-activities with collectible or high score components have certainly been a big step forward- featured in Zappar’s work with 7-Eleven; as have the increased use of animated 3D models and alpha video for more immersive and engaging content, such as its projects with Shackleton Whisky and Glenlivet. Zappar has also shifted from being able to simply link out to social media channels to having integrated share functions - so users can scan packaging, access branded face filters and share them instantly and organically - with the scope for brands to reward them for doing so. environment, with huge potential for exploring brand heritage and forging far more meaningful connections with their audience. Particularly with millennial and ‘Gen Z’ consumers, sustainability and ethical sourcing is a key part of the purchase decision process - so I’d expect to see more packaging brands using AR to empower their audiences to ‘meet’ the producers behind their products, to see how their goods are assembled and constructed.” A collaboration between Zappar and Evrythng, an Internet of Things smart product platform, highlights how AR can be used in tandem with other intelligent technology to gain data insights such as product usage and dwell time. Martin Stahel explains, “Evrythng’s technology gives physical products a digital identity that’s stored in the cloud, enabling brands to track a product’s lifecycle. What connected packaging brings to the table is that customers scanning AR content provide insights into when and how they interact with products post-purchase, which feeds new and valuable data into that digital identity. If connected packaging is enabling customers to view recipes or nutritional information, what are they looking at and for how long? These

insights can in-turn inform future customer messaging with connected packaging as the delivery method - such as triggering a reorder notification directly to a user’s smartphone to inspire future purchases in a logical, unobtrusive way.” Another way AR can complement intelligent technology that’s particularly relevant to the packaging industry is the prevention of product fraud as a consumer-led anti-counterfeit measure. Zappar has begun working with digital security and fraud prevention experts DSS to explore these possibilities further. Martin Stahel exemplifies, “Connected packaging can provide a valuable layer of additional security and enhance brand trust by attaching a unique code to product packaging which, when scanned in a proprietary branded app, can confirm a product’s authenticity and safety whilst at the same time displaying more relevant information to the end user.” Removing the perceived ‘pain point’ of an app download is another area of technological innovation within this domain. Zappar has recently added WebAR to its portfolio for example, which enables users to access AR content via their phone’s web browser. Martin Stahel points out that as new technology it lacks some of the performance and flexibility you’d get with in-app content, but it’s only going to improve and evolve. “This means that all brands now have total distribution of content across mobile devices which is a significant development. They no longer need to pay a third party app to deliver content (so no media fee) and can control their own first-party data and have a direct dialogue with users on an ongoing basis.”

Omnichannel Marketing Brands are beginning to acknowledge that AR can support and enhance a broader omnichannel marketing strategy according to Martin Stahel, which in turn unlocks more possibilities for leveraging AR in strategic ways that go way beyond novelty. “For us, AR can and should be seen as the ‘glue’ that both binds and enhances every part of the marketing funnel, with contributions to be made from initial awareness to consideration to adding value pre and post-purchase.” On the surface, integrated social sharing is perhaps the most straightforward way AR can compliment existing marketing campaigns. For example, Zappar’s work with Fanta leveraged an existing influencer relationship with custom face filters with integrated share functions – an example of increasing customer engagement and brand visibility that’s specific to AR which supports a wider omnichannel strategy.

Addressing a blind spot A key strength of connected packaging is that messages can be targeted to the user at any point in time - whether that’s in-store to encourage purchase via product visualisation to crosspromoting ancillary products or demonstrating the value of a food or drink product through video recipes, ‘How To’ guides, unboxing videos and recommendations. In that sense, packaging can become a brand’s storefront, enabling conversations with an audience long after purchase. This has been a blind spot for brands from a measurement perspective for a long time. With AR, brands can have a direct conversation with their end users and tailor their messages accordingly to make them more relevant. This can also be adapted over time dependent on the context of the interaction and where the product is in its Packaging Europe | 7 |


lifecycle. Importantly this can also be leveraged to talk about sustainability, product provenance and recycling: increasingly consumers want to know more about the products their purchasing and making sure that they are held accountable for their actions and their impact on the environment and society at large. AR can help tell these stories through spatial computing in engaging and instructional ways.

We ask Martin Stahel is AR a gimmick or game changer? You won’t be surprised to hear that I think AR has revolutionary potential for the packaging industry. But it’s all about companies like ours who are involved in the sector to share those success stories and help brands unlock genuine value with the technology - to nurture it and help it grow. Gimmickry is the realm of using technology for technology’s sake. Like any other business, you need a commercial objective to aim at and an assessment of whether AR is the right choice to meet it. Moving beyond that is all about focusing on the creation of valued experiences and actively solving brand problems. One thing we’re regularly saying to the brands we work with is that AR is not simply a box to be ticked or about

a one-off campaign activation; most consumers do not tend to be excited by AR in and of itself - they want compelling content regardless of the medium, so together we need to make connected packaging experiences contextually relevant, genuinely useful and compelling. But we have to acknowledge that creating a long term always-on connected packaging strategy is a marathon and not a sprint. We’ve been talking to and working with some of the biggest brands in the sector for a number of years now. It requires multiple-stakeholders across the organisation to execute property and needs a high-level internal champion to drive the process. There are certainly quick wins and test-and-learn strategies to deploy to start the process. But it is essential that the right systems and processes are put in place in order to lay the right foundations from the start and ultimately deliver the best ROI for the business. With the examples we have mentioned earlier, we’re actively demonstrating that AR has eminently practical use cases that actively solve problems for the brands we work with as an everyday utility and additional information source for their users. Combining strategic best practice with commercial success is only going to make the connected packaging offering more compelling for brands and I think that will

SCAN ME

inspire something akin to a revolution in the packaging industry - at least, in the sense of reshaping perceptions of packaging where brands no longer see a passive object, but a gateway to an always-on digital content and delivery channel that they can own to drive better consumer understanding, usage habits and business decisions. Ultimately we see a future where every single product and piece of packaging is connected. We believe it will be an expectation of users that they can access more relevant information, offers, promotions and payment options related to the product though scanning it via their mobile device. Connected packaging will soon be part of the usual media planning and content development cycle as an always-on owned media channel. The brand owners who are already taking advantage of this technology have a natural head start over their competitors. It’s certainly a hugely exciting time to be in the packaging space and we’re excited to see it continue to evolve.

Case study AR has the potential to enhance customer loyalty and reward their audience in fun and unexpected ways to drive sales. Zappar’s work with PEZ is emblematic of a brand taking a strategic approach to digital innovation with AR at its heart. PEZ, looking to increase sales of its refill packs, applied a unique ‘candy code’ to its refill packs which could be scanned directly from the PEZ Play App. This unlocked custom mini-games for its audience to play, but also collectible PEZ characters for use in the photo feature. This added a collectible element to the refill packs that replicated the appeal of PEZ’s dispensers in a digital format - encouraging repeat purchases and rewarding its audience with bespoke content through AR.

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If you have yet to experience Eef de Ferrante in our special AR magazine experience, you are missing out. Please download the free Zappar app and aim for the Zapcode on this page and the front cover to unlock extra content.

MINING THE POTENTIAL OF AUGMENTED REALITY Libby White caught up with Eef de Ferrante, managing director, Active and Intelligent Packaging Industry Association (AIPIA), to discover his overarching viewpoint on the value of augmented reality within the packaging industry.

Search for ‘Zappar’ on App Store or Google Play. | 10 | Packaging Europe


Filming the managing director of AIPIA and bringing him to life on the pages of this magazine was key to adding an innovative experience for our readers – highlighting the potential of the technology for the print and packaging industry.

“If you take AR seriously you will be able to reap serious benefits in return. It is not a gimmick.”

High on the agenda

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IPIA exists to connect brands with active and intelligent packaging providers. The association believes that implementation of new technologies in packaging is key to growth, enhanced efficiency and security, reduced waste and to support brand appeal. AR is high on the agenda. Merely seven years ago, AIPIA was kick-started with a small meeting of 70 people. Today, it has over 1000 members and is testament to the fast-paced growth of active and intelligent technology within the packaging industry. We find out more about the important role of augmented reality within this. Eef de Ferrante passionately believes that augmented reality technology is the baseline of intelligent packaging. By definition, intelligent packaging informs the consumer of some aspect of the quality, nature or production history of food for example. It can indicate whether its contents are the right temperature, or whether they remain fit to eat, for example. “Intelligent packaging such as a tab, indicator, or active code which you can scan are all still very much in development stages. AR is not. It is real, and it is happening. “My statement is that if augmented reality does not succeed within the packaging sphere, then there will be no future for intelligent packaging.” He enthuses that the fun element associated with AR is key to drawing in consumer engagement with the packaging in the first instance – you must convince the consumer to interact with the package, and AR is the most obvious method. The possibilities of what comes next are what Eef de Ferrante is most keen to highlight. “I hope to see that the ‘fun factor’, although very important, will be acknowledged as the initial element of AR, and brands can

“My statement is that if augmented reality does not succeed within the packaging sphere, then there will be no future for intelligent packaging.”

see the potential beyond this for more serious purposes such as to provide instructions to the consumer (as a simple example).”

Call to brand owners Eef de Ferrante goes so far as to appeal to brand owners to explore the possibilities. “Go and sit with your marketing and brand experience teams and think: What can AR add to our product? How can we connect our brand more closely with consumers?” AIPIA is active in connecting brands, including many notable names who are members of AIPIA, with AR technology providers. “Brands are interested in the technology but are unsure of how to best use it. There are a lot of creative and fun applications, but what about data mining?” asks Eef de Ferrante. “Brands have yet to discover even five per cent of the possibilities linked with AR. They don’t need to mine oil or gold – they need to mine data. I truly believe that brands don’t realise the wide scope of this technology yet.” Augmented reality will be the driving force behind data mining, according to Eef de Ferrante. “There’s no way back – this is our future,” he underlines. “I encourage the AR developers to really pass this message on to the brands. If they succeed in this message, it will underpin the success of AR in the packaging industry.” The mindset of brands and users must change, supported by a strong message and strategy from the developers. Brands also need to understand the multifaceted drivers and opportunities of AR. “Brand protection, consumer engagement, supply chain efficiency– these are all goals of intelligent packaging,” enthuses Eef de Ferrante. “We promote the use and implementation of new hightech solutions in packaging; AR is one of them. I strongly support the development of AR to brands as if this doesn’t succeed, then intelligent packaging won’t exist. “If you take AR seriously you will be able to reap serious benefits in return. It is not a gimmick.” It seems clear that AR technology has the potential to underpin the future of intelligent packaging. But there is one caveat: both brand owners and AR providers must take this technology seriously and fully explore its possibilities if it is to evolve past its current ‘fun’ façade.


UNILEVER LAUNCHES ECOREFILL WITH ON-PACK AR Packaging Europe spoke exclusively with James Adkin, senior global brand manager, Unilever, to uncover the stance of a leading transnational consumer goods company on AR. Unilever also divulged to us an exciting innovation launch which will utilise AR on-pack.

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ames Adkin outlines five key contexts/use cases for augmented reality on-pack: to convey transparency and sustainability/recycling messages; story-telling; ‘how-to’ demonstrations; promotions and games; and social sharing activities i.e. face filters. “It’s important to think about where AR fits into the customer experience and ensure it adds value,” explains James Adkin. “The key for brands is to make AR a part of its integrated marketing effort rather than as one-off standalone activities.”

Unilever’s strategy Unilever is exploring ways of offering always-on connected packaging platforms, of which AR will be a key component. Using its packaging as an always-on media channel, impacting its customers at the point of use seems, “an obvious win for us - with AR ensuring the content we provide is relevant, and highly engaging,” says James Adkin. “We think that AR can help us share the higher purpose of our brands to consumers in different and engaging ways. We will learn more about the experience of our consumers with our brands and use this to deliver a better experience. We also think that it gives us the opportunity to offer customers more shopping options such as via e-commerce sites - particularly when AR is used as part of a connected packaging programme.” Looking ahead, Unilever expects that packaging platforms will provide content that is personalised and dynamic. James Adkin explains, “There is a big opportunity for AR to add and enhance ‘moments of use’ in ways that are helpful and valuable for consumers as well as being commercially relevant for brands.” The main issues around AR, according to James Adkin, have been that you need to download an app in order to trigger the experience. He points out,

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“Whilst some people will have some apps that are AR enabled already on their phones e.g. Snap, for most it’s not a seamless customer experience. However the advent of web AR this year, providing the ability for anyone to get an AR experience from a QR code, which is now native of a wide variety of smart phones, will definitely see adoption increase.”

New product launch Cif (from Unilever) is utilising AR on ecorefill; a new innovation in the home cleaning category, allowing consumers to reuse their spray bottles via an ecorefill. AR is used to demonstrate how to activate the ecorefill via a connected pack experience whilst also highlighting how to fully recycle the packaging and reuse the bottle for life. James Adkin enthuses, “There’s a few other surprises delivered once the pack has been scanned so I won’t spoil them now!”


SEEING IS BELIEVING

Leading machinery builders and providers for the packaging industry are implementing AR glasses for customer remote assistance. Libby White caught up with three key players on the market: BOBST, Marchesini and Norden to discover how, and why. Connecting with customers

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ugmented reality remote assistance is an emerging technology that enables product experts to visually guide and collaborate with customers and field technicians. BOBST’s Helpline Plus AR service, for example, allows an operator to connect. By wearing a Smart headset the BOBST expert can see what the operator sees and receive immediate assistance with trouble shooting and issue solving. Raphael Indermühle, head of sales and marketing, business unit services, BOBST explains, “We know that machine downtime can be costly for our customers. Our solution will shorten the time a machine is down; issues can be solved almost immediately. Our experiences from the standard Helpline Plus service tells us that almost 80 per cent of problems can be solved on-line, with no need to send a BOBST technician to the customer. By adding the augmented reality functionality, we can improve problem solving, shorten downtime and reduce the customer’s costs for technician time.” The concept was first presented at drupa 2016 to a positive reaction. Both the software and hardware had to be adapted to industrial use, and BOBST had to consider both personal and IT security in the development. A fully industrialised solution was launched at the end of 2018. | 14 | Packaging Europe

Meanwhile, when the customer service department at Norden Machinery receives an alarm from a customer site about machinery fault, the organisation springs into action. The tube filling systems manufactured by the Kalmar-based company are of complex design and require specialist skills to troubleshoot and repair. XMReality Remote Guidance™, based on AR, offers an effective tool for field service engineers. “Our clients are located all over the world, manufacturing anything from cosmetics to pharmaceuticals and heavy machinery. Some clients make as many as 1000 tubes per minute, where each minute of downtime can result in significant financial loss,” says Christer Bäck, customer service manager at Norden Machinery. The company has experienced strong global demand for support services, but finding the right skills locally is difficult. To Norden Machinery, XMReality Remote Guidance is a valuable tool, enabling its service staff to guide each other without being physically on site. Mirko Ballo, after sales director, Marchesini, explains its AR glasses are part of a complex concept of remote assistance and are integrated with software to offer customers faster assistance. He explains “Here at MG, we consider the glasses and software an inseparable combination. The ‘MG Operative Remote Assistance’ function allows MG operators to see what is happening in real-time on the customer’s machine/system thanks to the use of AR glasses (or similar


devices) and provide specific and exact instructions to the technician on site. Throughout the service, we become the customer’s eyes.” In-house tests started during the second half of 2017 for Marchesini with an interfunctional team captained by Marchesini Customer Care with a goal to pinpoint the best solution for implementation. It chose a non-proprietor system that can be used via a dedicated application available for any device or operating system. Marchesini is presently at the start-up phase of the project. It aims to be set-up internally by the end of 2019 so the system is ready to launch on the marketplace.

Real-time benefits According to Mirko Ballo, customers are interested in receiving technical assistance almost in real-time. He comments, “The benefits are well worth it. The cost takes second place. The main advantage is having a highly skilled MG technician at your disposal very quickly, thus drastically shortening intervention times and quickly understanding the problem.” Raphael Indermühle agrees, listing benefits such as minimising the machine downtime, solving issues immediately, and having a direct connection with the customer. He adds, “Drawings, pictures and written instructions can be displayed on the lens of the headset, and we can even provide instant translations in the customer’s language. The use of the smart headset also allows the customer’s operator to have both hands free during the conversation, and it gives more junior operators direct access to BOBST expert advice.” Ultimately, production can be kept at its optimum. To Norden Machinery, XMReality’s solution means that its service personnel in Kalmar can see and hear exactly what the customer and the service engineer see and hear on the other side of the world, with video and audio in real time. “This means we are not dependent on having specialist skills on site, while still being able to deliver the support our customers expect from us. Our engineers can also be confident they have powerful support with backup that is always there for them,” says Christer Bäck.

Customer satisfaction Helpline Plus AR is being used already by a number of customers. “All of them are testifying that the immediate connection to a BOBST expert has improved productivity, and operators have enjoyed using new technology in their daily work,” comments Raphael Indermühle. Marchesini shares figures from the PTC 2018 AR Research project. 107 companies interviewed say that you can achieve a 50 per cent rise in the resolution rate and a 30 per cent improvement of first-time fix rates. The company is investing effort and intense organisation to implement the project as most of its machines are robotised and highly customised. “Providing new technologies that support our customers’ requirements to enhance the connectivity of their machines and to automate their production, is key to further enhance our customer relationships,” concludes BOBST’s Raphael Indermühle. “We are living in times of smart factories, Internet of Things and Industry 4.0. Therefore we are continuously working on developing our connectivity services and automating the processes to be able to provide machines and services that maximises our customers’ performance and business.” Packaging Europe | 15 |


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THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THE CURIOUS The scope of augmented reality is being explored by inquisitive minds in the industry, dedicating time and effort to research and accrue knowledge of the most valuable ways AR can be applied to the packaging sector.

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ibby White picks the brains of digital services specialist Tom Lawrie-Fussey and Chris Houghton, brand innovation and packaging leader at Cambridge Design Partnership, a leading technology and product design partner. Tom Lawrie-Fussey starts from the core. “We focus on challenging the why,” he says. “There are a lot of AR technology enablers in existence, but the key questions are where is AR applicable, and what is the legitimacy of the interaction? Innovation needs to be led by consumer needs rather than by technology, otherwise consumers will not engage.”

Chris Houghton adds, “Over the years we have witnessed what has worked and what hasn’t with AR. Some campaigns have been very on-brand and appropriate, whereas others don’t seem to have the valuable link between content and execution. It’s crucial to achieve ‘consumer truth’ and tie together experiences. There are some great examples in the architecture and interior design sectors where AR overcomes ‘imagination barriers’. The technology needs to enhance or reveal something in the real world that physical packaging can’t.” Packaging Europe | 17 |


Tom Lawrie-Fussey

They hint at how AR could aid connecting the digital online experience with physical reality. “We only need to look at leading online retailers as an example of reality not matching online perception: consumers returning goods as they don’t meet expectations is a prime example. AR could potentially bridge this gap,” enthuses Tom Lawrie-Fussey. “Have you ever chosen food online and then received a different size bag to what you were expecting? AR could solve problems such as this. Perhaps it could be used to translate the dimensions of a pack to a consumer – it could make significant changes to the value chain.”

Chris Houghton Product development

AR is also being put to the test to aid product development by Rieke Packaging Systems, a global leader in innovative closures, dispensing and packaging systems. It was looking for a solution to work closely with its clients, as well as to assist training. Ed Wills, global marketing director, Rieke Packaging Systems comments, “We realised we could use AR on our website for customers to view in real time on their desktop or smartphone.” Rieke has initiated an e-commerce range. “This means you can have samples on your desk right away just by browsing your phone. I think that is really Pack research valuable,” says Ed Wills. The company can also use AR to liaise with its product With 3D modelling, AR could also solve an underlying issue with traditional development and sales teams as an internal tool – it’s not just an external clientpack research. Jonathan Barrowman, founder and CEO of ‘Gorilla in the facing solution. This is key, as Ed Wills highlights, “When you have thousands of room’, a rising star in the tech scene which provides immersive research, people across Rieke worldwide, it’s not always possible for everyone to work on offers his perspective: every aspect of a project face-to-face.” “AR is a game changer in the competitive packaging sector as it provides “You can move the process forward far more quickly with either your better insight on which pack design will sell. This is especially critical as once customer or colleague on the other side of the world. It can really speed up a new pack has been manufactured and distributed the impact on sales is product development.” impossible to change.” Ed Wills underlines that this solution is not considered a replacement for Gorilla in the room specifically developed AR pack tests for the packaging physical samples long-term, “but say for example you require a dispensindustry. In addition to data on which pack design people ‘like’, it’s starting to ing pump for a particular purpose: you can go to the website and look at map and measure respondent interactions with 3D AR packs e.g. dwell time on a sample right away. The client can then say instantly whether they want particular designs, whether they zoomed into a particular feature, the area of the to progress.” This saves time and cost, and of course it’s also a far more pack they most liked etc. Jonathan Barrowman comments, “It’s like eye-tracking sustainable approach. in AR and it will herald new behavioural data insights for the packaging industry.” Since it is digital, Rieke is also able to brand and personalise AR models using He states that behavioural economics highlights the flaws in traditional pack the customer’s own colours. Ed Wills points out, “The equivalent physical sample research where people are asked to look at pictures or mock-ups of new pack would take weeks if not longer to bring it to that point.” designs (on a computer screen or in a focus group) and say which they prefer. He concludes, “I firmly believe that we’re still only in the infancy stage of AR, “It isn’t a realistic representation of and we’re likely to see a massive people’s point-of-purchase decisions uptake in the years to come. because it’s a flat 2D image. AR They’re even putting AR into Google “With AR, customers can have the ability allows consumers to look at a realistic search results now so it will be as to access samples immediately on the 3D replica of the product in the real common as video files on websites world (on their kitchen counter, on in the future. phone rather than waiting for a sample of a supermarket shelf etc) and view it “People will expect it, whatever from every angle.” they’re buying.” the product to arrive in the post.” | 18 | Packaging Europe


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CONNECTING WITH CONSUMERS Rob Hollands, managing director, UK, Anthem Worldwide creative agency, shares insights into augmented reality from a design perspective.

LW RH

Have you had much demand from brand owners and clients for augmented reality campaigns?

We have been working with brands for a number of years to connect their packaging and deliver relevant and engaging experiences to consumers. AR has been one of the content opportunities over those years, but we’ve seen a far greater awareness and demand from clients in the past six to twelve months.

“We’ve seen a far greater awareness and demand from clients in the past six to twelve months.” We’re seeing AR move beyond disposable fun and gimmicks to it being something that can deliver real consumer value and measurable results. AR and connected packaging are now firmly on the agenda of marketing teams. Over the coming months, we’ll see lots of brands start to deliver AR content and experiences and we’re currently working on a number of projects for Coke, which will launch this summer. Connected packaging and products are allowing brands to bridge the worlds of both physical and digital and product and service.

LW RH

What edge do you think augmented reality gives? Can it connect the brand with the consumer more closely?

The opportunity for brands to connect with consumers via their products and packaging is significant, real and now. AR is one content experience that packaging can deliver and its creative, immersive and engaging nature presents an exciting opportunity for brands. AR allows us to bring the packaging, the brand and its story to life and it can drive trials, encourage loyalty and deliver utility, such as usage guidance, instructions or ingredients transparency. AR can also deliver a brand halo effect; being seen as new technology it can help to position brands as more innovative, or drive appeal amongst new audiences. Just look at the impact AR has delivered for Treasury Wines and their 19 Crimes brand. Based on a simple augmented experience and with almost no other advertising, they’ve created the fastest selling wine brand of all time. This disruption in a very traditional category has secured rapid distribution and shelf space globally, reaching new audiences and providing rich data and insights. Treasury Wines are now rolling out their Living Wine Labels across their entire estate and have just announced the launch of a 19 Crimes AR beer range.

Connected packaging is also giving brands a new and valuable source of data and insights. We’re seeing engagement data in real-time and can understand where, when and how consumers are engaging with products before, during and, critically, after purchase.

LW RH

How important is it to provide the consumer with an ‘experience’ through design?

More than ever before, it’s critical that brands and organisations deliver a brilliant consumer experience at every touchpoint, whether pre, during or post purchase. Amazon has been a leader in terms of obsession over customer experience and we’re now seeing them embrace both connected packaging and AR, with a third of all packing becoming ‘connected’ this year via Amazon’s version of QR (the SmileCode) and trials of AR for seasonal packaging. From a packaging perspective our tools have been limited to simple but powerful aesthetics - colour, shape and materials - but connected packaging and AR can deliver a truly multisensory experience.

LW RH

How do you connect the physical design with the digital? Does this make the process more complicated?

Consumers lives are connected and increasingly the objects around us are becoming connected, from our physical spaces: homes, workplaces and cars, to our clothing, consumer products and packaging. Brands are connecting their physical touchpoints via codes or markers or weaving in technology such as NFC.

Rob Hollands

Packaging Europe | 21 |


Most AR experiences currently require an app. This could be a brand’s app, a platform app such as Facebook or a specific AR app like Zappar. Accessing AR via an app can be a barrier and must be a consideration when planning the user journey and consumer experience. However, the technology is advancing and the technology providers are racing to deliver an ‘app-less’ experience. We’ll see some great WebAR examples launch this year, including one we’re working on for Coke! We’re doing lots to explore the best approach to designing connected callto-actions onto packs, developing more beautiful (and bespoke/branded) code designs, creating simple steps to guide the user journey, looking at how this sits in the design hierarchy and developing guidelines and toolkits for consistent implementation. We’re also trying to drive some standardisation in the industry around placement, terminology and iconography.

LW RH

Can you please talk me through how you work on an augmented reality project?

When looking at building a connection experience into the user journey, there are a number of considerations. Alongside addressing the brand and business objectives, we challenge ourselves to consider why a consumer would connect, what truly valuable experience can we deliver, why would they come back and how will it be shareable? We look at identifying the simplest, most intuitive and frictionless connection method for that market and audience. This way we connect the brand and consumer and could include image recognition (point and go), NFC (tap for experience) or codes (swipe and scan). We’ll visualise the ideas and potentially prototype and test with consumers before developing the full experience and launching into market. The benefit post-launch is the almost instantaneous source of data and feedback, allowing us to learn, refine and relaunch.

LW RH

LW RH

How do you think design for augmented reality may evolve over the next few years?

Technology and innovation are moving at a faster rate than ever before and designers, brands and agencies must keep up. The World Economic Forum tells us that the rate of advancement in the next decade will be equivalent to the past 40 years combined. Whilst AR has already been with us for a relatively long period of time (the term originating in the nineties), the next few years will see it genuinely move into our daily lives. This will be driven by the big social platforms, device manufacturers and technology companies. AR was woven through the announcements at Google I/O in May, with Google focusing on areas where it can deliver the best experiences - mapping, searching, even triggering your phone’s camera automatically when you smile! The opportunity will be for brands to identify real use cases where they can enhance and support the experience of their consumers. AR also has much potential beyond consumer experiences - in education, training, prototyping, planning and product development.

LW

Is there a need for more ‘tech-minded’ designers to work on AR projects, and what does this means for the future of designers with regards to training/ required skills?

RH

Whilst the craft of brand and packaging design certainly warrants a level of specialist expertise, brands can’t exclusively live in one environment anymore and this also applies to designers. The successful brand design agencies of the future will combine the skills of designers, developers, UX specialists, content creators, thinkers and makers whether that is in multi-skilled individuals or more likely, in diverse but connected teams of mixed talents.

Does augmented reality encourage a fresh perspective for design?

Digital in general has required organisations and designers to consider how their brands will live online, whether on a digital shelf, in the context of social media or as an augmented experience. This ‘digitalisation’ of brands is really exciting for designers. It’s a chance to move beyond the physical and into an immersive and somewhat unlimited creative journey.

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“More than ever before, it’s critical that brands and organisations deliver a brilliant consumer experience at every touchpoint, whether pre, during or post purchase.”


WHAT’S HOLDING BACK DIGITALLY PRINTED PACKAGING? When all the market research of recent years is projecting market growth of between 10 and 15 per cent CAGR over the coming years, with corresponding advances in market share, it may sound unnecessarily provocative to suggest that digital print in packaging has failed to fulfil expectations. The value proposition of digital print is familiar enough: the ability to go from PDF to POS in a matter of hours doesn’t just make short runs and cool customisation campaigns economical, but enables supply chain efficiencies and leaner stock management. Digitally printing a package thus caters to a swathe of key market trends and demands: from agile marketing campaigns and proliferation of SKUs to streamlining processes for faster time to market. However, in off-therecord conversations over the last couple of years, both brand owners and digital print specialists have confided a mild disappointment that some of the more idealistic predictions of digital conquest have not yet come to pass. Tim Sykes explores the barriers that may be holding back the digital tide. Companies can now target messages directly at groups of customers and join social movements. Credit: Design Bridge.

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Leveraging consumer data enables brands to communicate in a personally meaningful way, such as in the #unboxingEurope campaign.

We don’t all need bespoke

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e’ll start with perhaps the most basic and obvious point: the largest chunk of the market is still serving long-run jobs for packaging destined for the shelves of bricks-and-mortar retailers. As Montserrat Peidro, head of Heidelberg’s digital print business, remarks: “The main advantages of digital print can be quantified in terms of cost per box in short-mid runs, in faster turn-around times resulting in a leaner supply chain and in its ability to produce unique boxes profitably. Examples include packages with security features, unique identifiers for track and tracing of goods, codes for connected packaging and those personalised for a specific individual.” Yet of course there remains huge demand for generic packaging produced in high volumes and at high speeds – and analogue presses still handle the bigger runs more cost effectively, in addition to which they tend to be a considerably less costly investment. This is hardly news, but those of us who get intoxicated by disruptive innovation could do well to remind ourselves of the enduring gravitational pull of simple mathematics. As long as not everyone needs bespoke, there will be a place for analogue.

Agile technology on its own won’t accelerate time to market That said, there is a significant and growing packaging market space where digital print can add value. Brand owners need to differentiate their multiple SKUs and increase frequency of marketing campaigns to maintain consumer attention. In this landscape, flexibility rather than raw throughput is key to productivity. “The printing speed of analogue does not take into consideration all the presses set-ups, including colour calibrations, waste and plates making and mounting,” says Marcelo Akierman (HP Indigo marketing manager – EMEA | 26 | Packaging Europe

region). “The time to market printing digitally is dramatically reduced; brand owners can do the proofing on site and when the target is achieved sign on the final substrate.” However, all too often the end user isn’t thinking as fast as the technology. As a major corrugated converter recently observed to me, they can handle an artwork change in little more than a day on traditional presses. If the brand owner’s marketing sign-off takes days or weeks, is it possible that the bottleneck is as much a business systems problem as a technological one? Brands need to become as agile as digital presses if they are to leverage their full potential – and they need to get used to making more decentralised marketing decisions. Harnessing the value of digital print will rely on integration into the wider value chain. “We often forget it, but packaging production is more than printing and part of a longer supply chain – from packaging design to printers, converters, packers, retailers (on-line or physical),” François Martin, senior communication advisor at BOBST, reminds us. “Printing digital will save a few hours, even a few days, in a process taking months. The entire packaging production chain needs to be rewritten. Digital printing will be part of the new Industry 4.0 packaging landscape but the digitisation of an entire process will be the most important element.” Conversely, as analogue print technologies are adapted to function within this connected ecosystem, they will become quasi-digital themselves.

We are still rewriting the rules Digital print facilitates an altogether more intimate degree of consumer engagement just as the broader digital transformation of our world is making consumers expect gratifying communication from brands across every Moment of Truth.


“There’s no question customisation is one of the biggest trends driving the adoption of digital package printing,” says Donald Allred, VP of Packaging, Memjet. “When packaging is produced in a late-stage customisation process, using digital printing is not only possible – it is preferred by brands that want to connect with their consumers by adding personalised messages and images to their packaging. These messages can include support of regional sports teams, seasonal messages, and/or images of local interest. Compare this close customer relationship with the more traditional process whereby brands ship products to distribution centres. In this supply chain, products are distributed to vast geographic and demographic markets, with little opportunity for personalised packaging experiences.” However, return on investment will increasingly require more sophisticated strategies than the now familiar ‘product with your name on it’. This is a new game, and the rules of how to create meaningful experiences through customised packaging are still being written. “Personalisation goes far beyond customising or styling products,” suggests Jose Gorbea, head of Brands & Agencies at HP GSB EMEA (and formerly of Mondelēz). “It’s about intelligently curating and shaping the whole experience for those in our community: makers, designers and consumers alike. One industry shift is personalised storytelling, with mass customisation seen as the next frontier for global brands. With digital print, design runs that used to number in the tens of thousands can now vary unit by unit, making labels, cases, POS materials and direct mail more relevant and personal than ever before. Companies can now target messages directly at individual groups of customers, and join social movements (as seen in Smirnoff’s recent #chooselove campaign). The speed of digital printing also allows brands to interact with real-world events. For example, you can now print the daily news on a package to communicate product freshness.” Amid such endless possibilities and a number of truly impressive applications there is also a sense that brands are only beginning to map the new landscape. If digitally printed packaging represents a cultural, as well as a technological, revolution, I have the sense that what we are seeing today is an influential counter-culture rather than mainstream.

Inertia and investment Another consideration is that industry earthquakes don’t always happen overnight. Even in industrialised countries many fields were being cultivated by manual labour decades after the invention of the mechanical plough. We tend to embrace change when we have to – especially when we suspect that ROI may be remote. Speak to any of the big players about the enablers of digital print and eventually they will acknowledge that getting the market to understand the opportunity is the key challenge. “Brands are facing more SKUs and shorter runs, but are quite busy in their day to day preoccupations to understand that digital can go beyond the ‘special projects only’,” muses Klaus Lammersiek, marketing manager HP Indigo Labels & Packaging EMEA. “Meanwhile, if they don’t have digital, converters may prefer still to keep running longer runs in their existing presses without the need to invest further. The solution comes in educating both brands and converters about the possibilities of digital – and every day we can see more and more digitally printed products in the supermarkets and online.”

Heidelberg’s Montserrat Peidro echoes this perspective. “In my personal experience in recent years, the main enablers have been the ability to integrate digital technology into existing pre-press and post-press processes, sell new benefits to customers, and manage lots of smaller jobs per day in an efficient way, with as few touchpoints as possible,” she remarks. “But not all companies are aware of these enablers or take these topics into account when planning their investments.”

The direct-to-consumer catalyst An association between digital printing and the broader digital transformation of manufacturing was made above. Of course, with online retail we can see this in the context of a wider digital transformation of our culture and commerce. The irresistible rise of e-commerce is sure to be the ultimate catalyst for growth in digitally printed packaging. In the first place, the online brand or vendor has a much more personal relationship with me than the traditional shopper in a conventional supermarket. It’s a one-on-one communication. The brand knows who I am, where I am, what I like. It is going to deliver a product, possibly tailored to my needs, directly to me. As a direct-to-consumer brand of a different sort (and on a very different scale) to the FMCG giants, Packaging Europe recently conducted a customisation experiment of our own. We distributed our January magazine in corrugated sleeves featuring 20 localised designs and printed on a HP PageWide C500 press. The #unboxingEurope campaign got a warm response from our readers – ‘love’ that came from the ability to leverage individual subscriber data. Knowing our readers’ location enabled us to give each one not just a nice surprise, but a personally meaningful one. The same dynamic applies to the new and emerging supply chains based around personalised consumption, and served by emerging direct-to-consumer, on-demand or subscription models. In this ecosystem relevant communication that reflects the consumer’s needs and identity are likely to distinguish the most successful brands. Late-stage customisation, at least in higher value goods, will surely become the norm. Meanwhile, successive advances in technology are cumulatively eroding all those barriers to adoption. We’re going to see improved quality, higher speeds, lower costs, more viable market entry points, more seamless integration, developments in design tools such as algorithmically generated iterative engines… All this innovation will be on show at drupa 2020 – and I can’t wait to see it.

Credit: Design Bridge Packaging Europe | 27 |


ROBOTICS – FROM SCIENCE FICTION TO REALITY Elisabeth Skoda speaks to several industry experts to shine a spotlight on just a few of the recent developments that showcase robots’ potential in the industry.

AS

a child back in the 1980s, movies like Star Wars shaped my perception of robots, and the prospect of robots like R2-D2 maybe being commonplace in the new millennium excited me. Reality has turned out to be somewhat more prosaic. However, robots have radically transformed manufacturing and the packaging industry. Robotics is a huge field, spanning from large, big and fast industrial robots for manufacturing and medical robotics to consumer robotics solutions like vacuum cleaning robots and robotic pets. “’Classic industrial robots behind safety fences will always exist. In car manufacturing, for example, robots are becoming more lightweight, flexible and will be more adaptable to different use cases. Combined with the progress in safety technologies, these robots pave(d) the way for first human-robot-collaboration scenarios. Human-robot-collaboration is on the edge of really taking off. Driven by the currently omnipresent vision of flexible and adaptable production of smallest lot sizes, humans and robots will work closer together,” says Dominik Bösl, head of robotics at Festo.

Cobots: challenges and solutions The vision of robotic support is very old. The first moving statues – android-like mechanical ‘servants’ – were built in ancient Greece but building human-like support machines is not as easy as it may seem, as Mr. Bösl explains.

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“We have seen a lot of progress in robotics over the last few years. Sensor technology allows the building of robots that can interact and collaborate with people. But there are challenges due to inertia. Physics cannot be cheated. When you move a large industrial robot around, you can only move very slowly to keep the arising forces under a certain threshold. Hence, lightweight construction is crucial.” He goes on to state that new paradigms for interacting with robots will be necessary. “Humans want to interact with robots like they interact with other humans: by demonstrating, showing or explaining what they should do. So, on the one hand, people want to work with smart, perceptive and understanding robots. On the other hand, humans always need to be in control of a robot – especially when it is used as a (very sophisticated) tool in production. Reconciling these very different requirements – increased autonomy vs. human control – will be a challenge.” Maintaining productivity during the non-collaborative phases is an issue that needs addressing, and Staubli has found a solution. “Often humans don’t collaborate with robots the whole day. In most of today’s applications, humans work close to robots, for instance for bringing parts or doing quality control. During the non-collaborative produc-


tion phases, the robots have to be highly productive again. Thanks to its design and a unique package of modular SIL3 / PLe safety functionalities our TX2touch POWER-cobots offer a high productivity and safe collaboration,” says Jean-Marc Collet, marketing manager for robotics at Stäubli.

The next disruptive wave Mr. Bösl predicts that robotics and automation will have at least as much impact over the next half a century as the internet and mainstream IT had over the past five decades. “We are still on the peak of digitalisation, but robotics will constitute the next, big, disruptive wave. As robotics is evolving, it is becoming more flexible, more accessible and easier to use. Hence, we will see a democratisation of automation technologies and a broader adoption of robotics. To achieve these goals, there are still some complicated tasks to be solved, e.g. robust object recognition in complex, unstructured environments or natural user interfaces, such as speech and gesture-based control or teaching by demonstration. Machine learning as well as artificial intelligence technologies will play a crucial role.”

Addressing staff shortages Robots can play an important role in addressing recruitment problems, as Dan Rossek, marketing manager at Omron UK, explains: “Many manufacturers see robots as the ideal solution to problems such as difficulties in recruiting qualified, experienced personnel. Our recently opened Robotic Innovation Lab provides a platform that can be quickly configured to give an accurate representation of the impact that robots will actually have on the customers’ own production line, as well as allowing us to demonstrate how our other products can be quickly integrated to increase the benefits provided by the robots.” He sees food handling as an important area for growth in robotics and highlights the importance of attracting more people to the engineering profession. “We expect a boost in robotics and innovation areas such as primary food handling, which is generally still an intensive, manual process. We

are looking at applications in that area and how we can develop solutions. Manufacturers face challenges due to reduced labour migration partly due to Brexit, so jobs for example in factories and agriculture are harder to fill. This means that people are more open to adopting new technologies, which then however involves the challenge to find the skilled workers to program and operate these systems. But work is being done to train the next generation of engineers, and we have seen a marked improvement.” He highlights the importance of innovating in a smart, efficient way rather than deploying technology for the sake of it. “The robot isn’t always the best solution for every application. It’s about continual evolution of technology, which brings benefits and efficiency to manufacturing. I think as time goes on and people start adopting the technology more and more, they also start to see benefits.“

Handling food products As a concrete application from the packaging industry, Alessandro Rocca, sales engineering director at Cama Group, highlights a growing popularity of multi flavour applications with customers from various food types, be it pet food or ice cream. Robots are ideal for this kind of task. “Packaging applications have specific challenges, and often robots have to handle a lot of different products, such as biscuits, pet food, ice cream or frozen products. Robots have to know the flavour sequence and prepare everything to load the products into the package. The systems must be flexible enough to allow for recipe changes. At CAMA, we do not integrate third part robots, both the robots and software are our own design – better results are achieved with robots that are custom-made for packaging.”

Packaging Europe | 29 |


He observes a bigger demand for the direct handling of unwrapped products, which requires robots with a gentle touch and even greater hygiene, so robots that are washable become a necessity.

Smart robots that move about the factory floor Mr. Collet identifies mobile robots as a key growth area for the future. “Robotics mobility is a logical step further into even more flexible and performant production. Therefore we launched our HelMo series of industrial mobile robots, which can autonomously move within the production premises and undertake different tasks defined by the company ERP.” The HelMo mobile robot systems also help to link the production processes together reaching a higher production quality with lowering the number of parts in stock. For instance, HelMo can load a machine with raw parts and unload it, bring the manufactured parts to be cleaned and get them controlled by a measurement station before getting them packaged and ready to be shipped. Industry 4.0 and machine learning has expanded what robots are capable of doing in production. Robots are becoming more and more crucial for production, as Mr. Collet explains. “Thanks to their controller’s open architecture and high connectivity, robots can directly be linked to ERP systems to fully support all the production batch changes with the highest traceability. They are also able to gather data and detect patterns, modelling them to get more predictive scenarios in order to prevent production downtime and secure the investment with dedicated preventive maintenance actions.” Robots, not just in the packaging industry, are getting smaller, lighter, more energy efficient and will be more flexible and adaptable to different use-cases, as Mr. Bösl observes. “There will still be ‘traditional’ industrial robots – big, fast, accurate but also potentially harmful to humans if not behind a safety-fence. But modern robotic solutions will become increasingly easy to

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use, easy to set up and operate; collaborative robotics is on the rise and will also find its place in packaging and – especially – commissioning. Humans and robots working side by side, e.g. in warehouses, will be a common sight.” When harnessing the power of IT and connectivity, robot behaviour can be simulated before they actually end up in the factory. Mr. Rocca explains. “We can provide our customers with machine simulation so that they can see in advance what will happen in the field. Furthermore, augmented reality and digital twin technology give a real view of the machine remotely, great for servicing and real time interaction.”

Innovation with bionics Mr. Bösl underlines the importance of learning from evolution. “Bionics is a great way to learn from nature. Evolution has put millions of years of trial and error into finding the perfect solution for particular problems. By analysing and understanding these solutions, we can find inspiration for some of the hardest problems in engineering. Unfortunately, that does not mean that we can ‘simply’ copy nature. Replicating an Elephant and putting such a ‘Robophant’ into a manufacturing plant does not make sense. Understanding the particular advantages of the Elephant’s trunk, though, could lead to completely new kinematics for flexible, adaptable, lightweight robotic ‘arms’ with many degrees of freedom – like Festo’s Bionic Softarm.” He predicts that robotics will continue to disrupt. “This ‘robotic revolution’ has already begun in structured environments, i.e. manufacturing and production. Applying artificial intelligence and machine learning, robots will get ‘smarter’ and more perceptive. New user interaction paradigms, like speech control or teaching by demonstration, will make adoption easier. We will experience the same democratisation in robotics over the next half a century that has already happened in computer technology. Robots will become commodity and can be used by anyone. Festo will focus on developing robotic solutions that help, enable and augment human capabilities but will not replace them.” Finishing on that note, maybe I will see R2-D2 robots on the streets in my lifetime after all!


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SUSTAINABILITY AWARDS AT FACHPACK The sustainable packaging event of the year partners with the biggest packaging fair of 2019. On the afternoon of 25th September in Nürnberg, Germany, FachPack’s PackBox Forum will host the hotly anticipated climax of the Sustainability Awards, preceded by the Sustainable Packaging Summit, featuring some of the key figures mapping the circular economy.

T

he 2019 edition of the Sustainability Awards is the biggest ever, with over 190 submissions (representing a 60 per cent increase on last year’s record) spanning five continents. Over the summer the independent judging panel of 32 global experts will identify the 24 finalists from whom the six winners will be revealed at FachPack. In addition a further trophy will be presented to a sustainable packaging innovator voted on by the readers of Packaging Europe and visitors to FachPack. Join us at the awards ceremony for the big announcements, sustainability debate and drinks!

Where and When? PackBox Forum, Hall 7, FachPack, Nürnberg, Germany. 25th September 2019 16:00 – 17:30 Sustainable Packaging Summit 17:30 – 18:30 Sustainability Awards 2019 ceremony, drinks and networking For more information about the Sustainability Awards and Sustainable Packaging Summit, visit thesustainabilityawards.com or subscribe to updates at sustainability.events

SEE ALL 190 SUBMISSIONS Unpacking Sustainability Preceding the awards ceremony, Packaging Europe’s Tim Sykes will be hosting a high-level discussion themed ‘Unpacking Sustainability: Different Approaches to The Circular Economy’, exploring contrasting approaches to circularity. Our star speakers include TerraCycle’s Tom Szaky, the mastermind behind the widely publicised Loop reusable packaging concept, and Dana Mosora – one of the organisers of the CEFLEX project to build universal recycling of flexible packaging across Europe. We will also hear from two global brand owners (P&G’s Gian De Belder and PepsiCo’s Chris Daly) who are taking part in both Loop and CEFLEX, in addition to many other circular initiatives. The four speakers will come together for an illuminating panel discussion following their presentations. Packaging Europe | 33 |


PIONEERING SORTING TECHNOLOGY: HOLYGRAIL PROJECT MOVES TOWARDS A CIRCULAR ECONOMY The pioneering project HolyGrail, led by Procter & Gamble and facilitated by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, officially closed on May 23rd. This follows three years of innovation in the improvement of post-consumer recycling using chemical tracers and digital watermarks, with the aim of moving closer to a circular economy.

AS

a full value-chain pre-competitive collaboration project involving 29 partners, HolyGrail was established to discover how the tagging of packaging can impact the accuracy of sorting and recycling systems. The key precepts behind the project are that, once packaging is designed for circularity, the collection challenge (which includes putting right collection system in place and consumer participation) are solved, high quality sorting is a crucial step to dramatically improving current recycling rates and ensuring better recyclate enters the packaging stream. | 34 | Packaging Europe

Digital watermarks – ‘potential for disruption’ One of the investigated technologies, digital watermarks, also has potential to bring disruption into other fields, such as consumer engagement and retail, through the creation of ‘smart/intelligent’ packaging. Major retailers in the US (Wegmans, Walmart) and in Europe are already adopting the technology in their packaging. Basic proof-of-concept for digital watermarks (through project participants Digimarc and Filigrade) has been established by the project. This


All 29 partners

will open up new possibilities currently not feasible with existing sorting technologies, including: making a distinction between food and non-food packaging, proper identification of full-body shrink sleeve bottles, ODR packaging (opaque and difficult to recycle, including black packaging), distinct mono and multilayer flexible packaging, proper identification of rigid multi-layer packaging materials (thermoforms, bottles…), safe introduction of new materials not hindering established recycling streams and proper identification of recyclable vs. compostable packaging, and the ability for closed loop recycling.

Outcomes During the course of the project, significant progress has been made in the area of digital watermark technology, with ‘invisible codes’ being integrated into both printed materials (labels, sleeves, in-mould labels, films/pouches), as well as directly into a mould (PET bottles, HDPE bottles, thermoformed trays, injection moulded crates, etc.). Through this, the packaging becomes intelligent, a feature which can then be used across the full value chain: QA and inventory management at fillers; anticounterfeit checks at stores; fast check-outs at retailers (making 2D barcodes and QR codes redundant); consumer engagement; and finally, to close the circle, improved sorting and recovery. The consumer engagement aspects are particularly interesting, as the invisible codes can be easily read by mobile phones, bringing new features – ingredient transparency, coupons/loyalty, information on product use / dosage, and how to deal with the packaging at the end of life – directly to the consumer’s fingertips. The HolyGrail project was officially concluded at an open house, ‘Digital Watermarks At Work’, at Tomra on May 17th. It included a live demo with an add-on module incorporated into an existing Tomra machine, effectively sorting out printed / embossed samples from several HolyGrail members (P&G, Verstraete In-Mould Labels, Borealis, and more).

Around 69 people were in attendance, with representatives from HolyGrail members alongside associations including Plastic Recyclers Europe, Petcore Europe, PCEP, Ceflex, GS-1, Expra, Prospa, EPRO, AIM, SCS and A.I.S.E.

The next step In order to build on the achievements of HolyGrail, it says the logical next step would be to upscale from an R&D test line to a (semi)-industrial line for which a couple of options have been identified after which the technology can be rolledout on a wider scale. To sum up, HolyGrail has proven that digital watermark technology can ‘revolutionise’ the industry’s approach to sorting, thereby increasing efficiencies and leading to high quality/high quantity recycled materials (including food grade PCR grades).

Packaging Europe | 35 |


What the participants say The project participants, including the core partners, retailers, brand owners and digital watermark companies, share their thoughts on the progress made so far: Gian De Belder (project leader, HolyGrail): “Low recycling rates in EU are mainly related to low collection numbers and low sorting efficiencies. Project HolyGrail looked into different technologies to improve the latter. Packaging can be made intelligent through the use of Digital Watermarks, without having an impact on established recycling streams (e.g. no battery, no metallic wires, etc are needed to make them smart). This intelligence can be used throughout the full value chain (packer/filler, Quality Assurance and inventory management, anticounterfeiting, consumer engagement [including recycling instructions through your smartphone] and lately also End-of-Life [automatic sorting lines]). “During this project, the concept of an add-on module onto an existing sorter has been successfully proven. This now opens a variety of possibilities today not feasible with standard sorting technologies. It has been a great three years of leading this true full-value chain project and wanted to thanks all members that contributed to the successful proof-of-concept of this industry-first new sorting technology.” Nico Van de Walle (product & circular economy manager, Verstraete In-Mould Labels Labels – a Multi-Color Company): “IML packaging is 100 per cent recyclable and has a high value within a circular economy and therefore it would be a shame, both environmentally and economically, not to valorise these assets within a circular economy. IML labels, enhanced with a digital watermark, could easily and swiftly become the future standard as we do not need any special or additional inks to print these interactive IML labels. Therefore we’re proud and motivated that we, on behalf of our customers, can play an active role in this project, so that IML and any other plastic packaging worldwide is getting sorted and recycled into the most valuable recycling stream.” Oliver Lambertz (business development manager segments, TOMRA Sorting GmbH): “TOMRA was delighted and honoured to be a member of the HolyGrail project. With a strong focus on circular economy TOMRA will continue to work on innovative solutions that will help to close the loop for plastic packaging.” Sabine ZARIATTI (Plastic activity leader, Suez): Plastic recycling is complex. To reach ambitious targets, all the value chain has to work together. Holy grail is the first large scale innovative project to find new sorting routes and I believe this technology will be part of the future of plastics sorting and recycling). | 36 | Packaging Europe

An Vossen, (executive manager, Plarebel): “A new breakthrough in markerbased sorting technology holds the key to improving plastic recycling, providing high quality sorting and boosting recycling quality and yield. Aside from the technical progress made during the Hol Grail project, we have seen how the entire value chain has embraced marker-based sorting as a crucial next step, which is fundamental to deliver the circular economy for plastics.” Larry Logan (chief evangelist, Digimarc): “Digimarc Barcode for the recycling of plastic objects and shrink labels further demonstrates the broad utility of our Intuitive Computing Platform, delivering a circular economy approach to packaging from birth in manufacturing, to rebirth as recycled products. We are excited to help brands, retailers, and the recycling ecosystem satisfy demanding regulatory requirements and public commitments for sustainability. And, we look forward to broadly licensing our technology to the industry upon commercialisation.” Johan Kerver (CEO, Filigrade): “Filigrade was the first to show in 2016 at Petcore that watermarks embossed in packages for sorting purposes would be the innovation for the future. We are delighted that now in 2019 the innovation proves, after development to industrial scale, that plastics can now be better sorted and serve as high-quality raw materials.” Maurits Van Tol (Borealis senior vice president, Innovation, Technology & Circular Economy Solutions): “Borealis’ participation in the New Plastic Economy initiative of the Ellen Macarthur Foundation helps us drive our EverMinds™ vision and mind-set. Advancements in sorting technology such as those investigated in the pioneering HolyGrail project are key to improving recovery rates and enabling higher quality plastic streams to broaden end markets for recycled plastics. Borealis is proud to have participated in this collaborative project to demonstrate the capabilities of the digital watermarking technology at industrial scale.”

WATCH INTERVIEW WITH GIAN DE BELDER


INSPECTING, TRACING, AUTHENTICATING – FOOD SAFETY ACROSS THE SUPPLY CHAIN Food scandals such as melamine in dairy products, salmonella in peanut butter, wood pulp bulking-out parmesan cheese or horse meat passing as beef have had wide-reaching consequences and highlights the importance of secure systems that can trace products from farm to fork. In this article, Elisabeth Skoda looks at three different ways food can be kept safe across the supply chain.

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nsuring food safety across the supply chain means managing the complexity of tracking individual products from farm to fork. Solutions and systems adopted need to seamlessly integrate with various contractors and third-party systems. Kezzler’s CEO Christine C. Akselsen explains that in a world of complex, global supply chains with many moving parts, it is essential for food safety for brands to have visibility on each ingredient and be able to track products from creation through to consumption. “This is essential both in enabling brands to identify when the safety of products may have been compromised, for example through over-exposure to certain temperatures or delays in distribution, as well as in facilitating highly targeted recalls should a problem be identified at a later stage.”

Products at risk Traceability is especially important for those food products that are attractive to counterfeiters. Recent media reports and Europol operations have highlighted the potential dangers, from fake baby milk powder to extra virgin olive oil and honey. “Counterfeit food products can pose serious health risks, either because their production does not comply with established health and safety standards, they include damaging or harmful ingredients, or because they simply fail to

properly list allergens and other essential information that consumers require,” Ms Akselsen says. “Increased awareness of the problem of counterfeit products has negatively impacted consumer trust. One way to address this challenge is to provide consumers with a way of directly authenticating their products.”

Unique codes In a quest to harness the potential of digital packaging to support food safety objectives without compromising operational efficiency, Kezzler worked together with Amcor on MaXQ. “This enables brands to pre-serialise their products. A unique code integrated into the product packaging is activated at a later stage via the cloud. By making every product unique, secure and traceable through the application of Kezzler codes, our solutions enable brands to securely track their products from creation to consumption,” Ms Akselsen points out. This means they can identify issues with a product’s journey before it reaches the consumer. Brands are also able to identify when shipments have gone astray or may have been exposed to compromising conditions. Brands can use the codes to enable consumer authentication. Consumers are able to scan the code using a phone and check that the product is genuine and for recall warnings. Packaging Europe | 39 |


Christine C. Akselsen

Interconnected supply chains Douglas C. Fair, CEO at InfinityQS points out that today’s interdependent, global economy creates foods whose ingredients are sourced from suppliers around the world. “Products contain vendor-sourced materials that were initially manufactured on different continents. To understand the complete food safety picture, it’s critical to link together safety and quality data from each of those disparate sources. It requires vendors, manufacturers and retailers to collaboratively engage with technology to create foods that do no harm.” Another challenge is purely technological. How can quality and safety data be made real-time accessible, not only at the plant level, but across all entities that have a part in creating a food product? How can cross-supply chain reporting be generated instantaneously to provide actionable food safety information? How can that information be accessible at any time, at any place, with our smartphones? Mr. Fair identifies Modern Software as a Service (SaaS) quality systems as a solution: “It can support virtually any data collection activities, generate reports for each entity in the supply chain, and aggregate that data across all supply chain entities. The result is the ability to focus on local data while providing summary information spanning from raw material providers to retailers. Today’s SaaS quality systems are designed not only to minimise company costs by living in the cloud, but also to help achieve access to critical food safety information.”

A cloud solution Cloud software solutions are suited for managing multi-plant deployments – even across different companies. Data can be kept separate so that vendors are unable to view data other than their own. Yet, data can be rolled up so that the food manufacturer can view food safety data across all vendors and manufacturing plants – even quality data from the retail side. “With SaaS everything resides in the cloud. Maintenance time and costs are nearly zero since the SaaS company provides system maintenance services. Plus, deploying across multiple plans is nearly impossible for traditional software | 40 | Packaging Europe

Geoff Furniss

products. Even if you decided to install local software in multiple plants, it is nearly impossible to combine data across lots of plants using non-SaaS systems,” Mr. Fair says. “Our newest SaaS product, Enact, is a modern, browser-based quality and food safety solution that can run on any device. It is designed for automated data collection and real-time analysis.”

A business opportunity According to the 2016 Label Insight Transparency ROI Study, which surveyed 2,000 consumers, 73 per cent of all respondents (and 86 per cent of mothers aged 18 to 34) are prepared to pay more for food which has information ‘transparency’. More than half of all consumers – 56 per cent – are more likely to trust a brand which gives additional information about how their food is produced, handled and sourced. Geoff Furniss, head of BBC Technologies within TOMRA, is keen to highlight that traceability can also help food producers and processors improve profitability: “BBC Technology’s FreshTracker software enables traceability of the origins and characteristics of individual products, such as blueberries, from harvesting, processing and packaging, all the way through to point-of-sale. This means users can integrate the post-harvest supply chain and original point-of-harvest information. FreshTracker also provides real-time information on attributes of the yield and can compare and analyse yields to enhance production efficiency.” Complementing this technology, Compac’s pack tracking software traceability system records and stores information about produce as it moves through the packhouse. “Barcode scanners track incoming bins, identifying them by variety, orchard block location, grower, bin weight, fullness, and picker details. Bins are then scanned into the sorting line at bin-tip and their information is recorded. Then Compac’s sizer software tracks produce as it moves through the sorting machine, identifying the location of each individual piece of produce and which bag, box or carton it has been placed into,” Mr. Furniss explains.


HOT OFF THE PRESS: MERCK UPTURNS POSSIBILITIES OF PRINT Merck Spectraval TM pearl effect pigments have been launched to open up new realms of printing possibilities.

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upported by the colour range offered by RGB technology, the new concept gives results that literally capture light, making the printed image appear with extraordinary brilliance and depth. Packaging Europe spoke with Peter Clauter, marketing manager, Merck to discover the significance of this printing trend.

RGB vs CYMK? With traditional CMYK printing, which is based on subtractive colour mixing, each colour that is used reduces the background colour white until eventually you see black. With RBG, the print world is flipped: colour is additive - SpectravalTM pigments are printed on a black substrate and each layer of colour adds light so that red, green and blue combine together resulting in white. The print enhancements are also flexible- suitable for screen, gravure and flexo printing. Peter Clauter shares that the RGB technology was first introduced to the market at Drupa 2016: “The first reaction of the marketplace was that this technology is impossible- once they learned the process and results, they wanted to know more.” He enthuses that for more than one hundred years printing has traditionally used subtractive colour mixing in CMYK on white substrates: “Now with this new technology and pigments, the achievable effects are outstanding, it is extraordinary and unique- and fascinating pearl and metallic effects can be achieved, boosting colour and depth.” But beside these superlatives, Peter Clauter states that it is not a question of one or the other technology: “Sure you can print only in CMYK or only in RGB. But it is a ‘high art’ of printing to cleverly combine both in one print job. If you think about the modern printing machines this can easily be done, when you have an equipment with eight or more printing units.” With creative designers, limitations disappear. | 42 | Packaging Europe

Point of difference RGB creates a very different look and feel to the traditional techniques and can be used to add impact that is guaranteed to grab attention. It’s a simple, scientific principle but it’s effective at enhancing prints. According to Merck, RGB printing represents a whole new ball game. It gives new dimensions in effect printing and offers shelf appeal. Markets in which collaboration has begun on commercial scale with RGB process include: cosmetic packaging, interior decorations, flexible packaging and magazine covers. Peter Clauter hints at projects they are currently working on with partners within the decoration paper industry as well as in the packaging fields of folding carton, shrink sleeves and self-adhesive labels. As long as RGB pre-press is correctly administered to increase the attractiveness of the print product, Peter Clauter concludes, “There are no limits.”


LABEL LEADERSHIP In anticipation of Labelexpo Europe, to be held 24-27 September 2019 at Brussels expo, Federico D’Annunzio, product owner - hybrid & label printing, BOBST, outlines the label printing market and highlights four key trends pioneering progress in packaging.

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he global market was valued at $36.98 billion in 2017 and is forecast to reach $45.22 billion by 2022. The label printing market continues to grow: this is driven in part by changing market dynamics and ever-evolving demands from label customers, with a growing number of SKUs, a dramatic reduction in average job lengths and life-cycles for mass-produced products and a significant increase of the regulatory content that is required on products. But it is also due – in part at least – to the fact that players in the label printing industry have been willing to embrace change and pioneer new printing and converting methods. The result in recent years has been an increasing number of label types and variety of labels in the industry. So, is that set to continue? And should we look to the label industry as a weather vane for the packaging industry overall? Here we look at four key trends in the labelling industry and the potential impact these may have.

Integration of digital and analogue The label sector has clearly been an early adopter of digital printing. Digitally printed labels have boomed in recent years, driven by market demands for shorter runs, more customised packaging, greater sustainability and the need to help products stand out even more. The rest of the packaging market is following. Indeed, we have recently seen a tipping point in the industry with more new narrow web digital press installations than flexo presses. Beyond labels, analysts expect a strong growth in digital for corrugated, folding carton and flexibles applications. The capabilities of digital printers and presses are increasing, but such breakthrough innovations can take more time than expected to become mainstream. Digital represents an entirely new way of processing jobs, from the file to the end product, and step-by-step, it will enable companies to reach new frontiers Packaging Europe | 43 |


in quality, productivity and overall workflow. In addition, the online digital product is growing in importance; sophisticated software is enabling more of the design, approval and marketing process to be completed using the digital product. This will change the working dynamic between converters / printers and brand owners as they will share a more digitised cooperation throughout the workflow.

Rise of customisation and premium labels Analogue printing is well suited for mid-to-long applications and will continue to contribute to a large percentage of global production. Meanwhile, demand is evolving rapidly towards more customisation and promotion, which means smaller runs, greater cost constraints and eventually the transformation of the entire digital workflow. Being able to produce results with maximum flexibility and to an optimum economical value will give digital printing a huge foothold in all sectors. Brands, small and large, are promoting so-called ‘targeted campaigns’, where the labels alone can enhance the apparent quality of a product. Different print effects – such as hot foil stamping, cold foil stamping and gravure printing – are used to embellish the labels to give them a more ‘premium’ appearance, as are tactile or haptic effects using processes like spot varnishing. Some of these enhancements can even be done digitally.

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We will likely see a better fit in the industry between conventional flexo, Extended Colour Gamut and digital printing technologies, all used optimally to meet the increasing demand for labels.

Demand for better colour control – from file to finished product Understandably, brand owners have a great demand for colour consistency. They know that their customers subconsciously look to the packaging and the label for cues about quality, so any discrepancy issues with brand colours can lead to a negative perception. The increasing demand for colour consistency is leading the drive towards the Extended Colour Gamut. ECG printing uses three additional ink colours - orange, green and violet (OGV) – on top of the conventional colours of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK), making for a total of seven in total (CMYKOGV). Printing with a traditional CMYK blend only matches approximately 60 per cent of the Pantone – but when printing with a CMYKOGV blend, it is possible to match 90 per cent plus of the Pantone. Again, in this domain, innovation will be at the forefront to improve ink while increasing the Pantone reach. What the industry needs to see is repeatability and consistency. Now, the digitisation of colour matching has made 100 per cent colour


Federico D’Annunzio

conformity with the job master request a reality. Brand owners want to achieve colour conformity on a global scale, irrespective of where their printing suppliers are located in the world. Converters have been pleasantly surprised by the outcomes that will enable them to deliver on this request. They also recognise the immediate advantages in flexibility and time-to-market when using the ECG technology in combination with digital automation in flexo presses.

Increasing automation and Internet of Things The growing demands on label printers for shorter print runs, faster turnaround, and greater flexibility and customisation is driving the industry towards higher levels of automation across digital and analogue printing methods. Ultimately, this will likely lead towards integrated workflows optimising time to market and increasingly satisfying consumer demands. Already, systems can link to Cloud applications and monitor machines and productivity. Higher levels of automation of course have an impact on the type of personnel needed. Human errors are the biggest reason for product recalls; step-bystep, new solutions will significantly reduce this risk. A more important role will be taken by the pre-press specialist and the supply chain people, ensuring there are no bottlenecks, but rather a smooth automated flow. Packaging Europe | 45 |


ROVEMA PRESENTS SBS 250 TWIN

Rovema’s packaging system SBS 250 TWIN is a combination of two BVC vertical continuous Form Fill and Seal machines and integrated downstream systems for bag top and bag closure designs. The packages can individually be adjusted to the market situation.

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hrough a modular approach, future adaptations are easily possible. Flexible production, up-to-date packages and a high security of investment account for this machine. The focus of the twin variant is on performance. The two Form Fill and Seal machines together reach an output rate of up to 160 packages per minute with a packaging weight of 500g and re-closure. The downstream stations for bag and closure designs were doubled to securely process this high number of packages.

High area efficiency through twin approach The Rovema SBS 250 TWIN packing pasta reaches an efficiency of 7,3 bags/ min/m². This makes it an attractive solution particularly for production sites with a limited floor space.

Flexible, efficient and economical Block Pack Machine SBS offers various options in bag top and bag closure designs as well as highest flexibility for production units of varying bag sizes.

A high performance packaging solution for pasta, pulses and rice The packaging system can process almost all mono and laminate packaging materials of different thicknesses and is prepared for heat sealing and impulse welding. Paper from the flat film web can be processed and used for more sustainable block bottom bags. Packaging Europe | 47 |


ON SECOND THOUGHTS... Jarno Stet

RECYCLING IS NOT A PANACEA Jarno Stet, waste and recycling manager, Westminster City Council, UK shares his views on recycling and waste management.

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ith 15 years of experience dedicated to the task of waste management, I’ve learnt that the collection and sourcing of optimum outlets to recycle waste is a balancing act with affordability within the logistical and technical constraints that we face. We are a long way from the circularity targets that are set within the UK and EU. However, the issues we face are international – recycling waste is ultimately a globally traded commodity. Perhaps we were too comfortable with the model established during the nineties, whereby our waste was accepted in certain Asian countries. Back then, we didn’t monitor how this waste was processed. Maybe it was discarded or burned and was not managed to the best of its potential. Today, some of these countries are no longer accepting our waste and we are now faced with a glut of low-quality materials that are very difficult to establish a clear-cut process for. Yes, there are some niche technologies available for certain types of waste materials, but nothing that works yet on a commercial scale. Recycling as a solution is not a panacea – the model does come with drawbacks. It still causes pollution, it still uses energy, and there’s a quality loss every time you recycle most materials. Recycling also doesn’t solve the trend of excessive consumption, especially within the food industry. Why do we need extreme convenience such as peeled and sliced bananas wrapped in polystyrene, LDPE film and cardboard when bananas come packaged in their natural skin already? I can’t justify the need for this. Recycling is often seen as a ‘get-out-of-jail free’ card, a way perhaps to justify increasing consumption. It should not be viewed as an excuse for wastefulness, but holding a crucial role to play within a balanced matrix of waste management technologies. It’s all very much reliant on what we put into the process. For example, there has been an increase in use of paper-based packaging. However, recycling of an increasingly more complex mix of materials can result in more hazardous waste residues in the end.

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It’s important to establish systems that work. In Germany, the ‘DSD yellow bin’ system was introduced to support a widescale collection of packaging. Generally, around 60 per cent of waste collected in this system is discarded as there is either no market for the materials, they are too contaminated, or there is no solution for the mix of composites. The German government has taken steps to improve this situation but it’s a complex issue. In the UK, as an example, the market for BOPP trays and tubs at end of life is very limited: it mostly ends up as fuel for cement kilns or is directed straight to energy from waste incineration. There are issues surrounding different plastic film grades, and even the mixed paper grades, produced by many household recycling sorting facilities, are becoming problematic to recycle. By no means are we on the last mile – we have a long way to go. The UK government’s Resources and Waste Strategy is a step in the right direction, and we are ensuring that sufficiently high-quality products are made from recycled materials. We do also face cost effective pressure points. Local authorities are pressed on the affordability of services. Many recycling contracts are based upon the value of the waste materials – a county council as an example could spend £2 million more per year dealing with recyclables due to the crash of international recycling markets. For certain materials there are even no outlets at all, or the options are very limited. On an EU level, and with the introduction of EPR strategy, it’s important to avoid mistakes that have been previously made. We need to look at what is produced from recycled materials, keep it simple and use higher grades. I believe we need to evaluate our consumer decisions more consciously. Perhaps we should be making purchases that are to a higher standard, rather than following the trend of living in a disposable culture. We need to change our way of thinking on an individual basis.


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Packaging Europe Issue 14.5