VOLUME 14.7 – 2019
SMURFIT KAPPA ON HOW E-COMMERCE IS FORCING FMCG TO RETHINK PACKAGING HOLYGRAIL • SMART PACKAGING • K2019 • BIOPLASTICS • FLEXIBLES
Content Team Tim Sykes Elisabeth Skoda Libby White Victoria Hattersley
Head of Studio Gareth Harrey
Production Manager Rob Czerwinski
Advertising Coordinator Kayleigh Harvey
Executive Assistant Amber Dawson
Head of Commercial Operations
VOLUME 14.7 – 2019
Head of Sales Kevin Gambrill
Senior Sales Executive Dominic Kurkowski
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IT Support Syed Hassan
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Editorial Elisabeth Skoda Smurfit Kappa Omnichallenges Digital watermarking Congratulations to Sustainability Awards 2019 winner HolyGrail! Aerosols and sprays Aerosols: Innovation, design and recycling IK interview Making the case for plastics packaging Bioplastics Bioplastics: Where are we now? Memjet A Game-Changer for Digital Print? Smart packaging A glimpse of the future – developments in smart packaging Flexibles Flexible Packaging: Resiliently bending to challenges Innovation spotlight Gabriel-Chemie shares digitalisation and sustainability expertise Sealed Air “We can’t turn our backs on the tiger in the room” Innovation spotlight Innovation based on collaboration Food and beverage Food packaging and changing demographics: Packaging-free versus a rising expectation for convenience K Q&A Plastics – the insider perspective Dow Packaging Innovation Awards Inside the world’s top packaging innovations Innovation spotlight The importance of quality and flexibility in glass filling On second thoughts... Practical recyclability is the only version of recyclability
we enter autumn and with it the busy trade show season including FachPack, Labelexpo and K2019, we have once again a range of interesting features lined up for you that discuss some of the industry’s hot topics. I’d like to point you towards just a few of the highlights. E-commerce creates a lot of new challenges to work out – also for CPG brand owners who need to integrate a new supply chain into their existing production lines and supply chains. Smurfit Kappa’s Herwin Wichers maps out the demands, complexities and some new ways in which packaging can rise to the challenge in conversation with Tim Sykes. We would like to offer our congratulations to HolyGrail project for emerging as Overall Winner of the Sustainability Awards 2019. As we are going to print just before the ceremony, we will feature a full report in the next edition of the magazine. But we spoke to P&G’s Gian De Belder (HolyGrail’s project leader) ahead of the announcement about the potential of digital watermarking, which offers the chance to greatly increase accuracy of sorting and therefore quality of recycling, but at the same time to open up lots of other value-adding opportunities for interactivity with packaging throughout the supply chain.
Elisabeth Skoda Editor
While investigating trends in food and beverage packaging across different demographics, Libby Munford gains interesting insights into new initiatives such as packaging-free aisles (fad, or likely to become a permanent fixture?) and the impact of the rise in ageing populations and single households globally, which brings with it demand for more singleportion packaging in order to add functionality and combat food waste. In a conversation with Dr Isabell Schmidt, managing director of the German plastics packaging association IK, I gain an insider’s perspective on the ongoing plastics sustainability debate and a differentiated view on the amount of packaging needed, using the well-known example of cucumbers wrapped in plastics. Finally, with the topic of plastics, prior to K 2019, I speak to several industry giants to get their take on the burning issues of the day.
Elisabeth Skoda Elisabeth Skoda firstname.lastname@example.org @PackEuropeEli
Packaging Europe | 3 |
OMNICHALLENGES Smurfit Kappa’s market development director Herwin Wichers primarily focuses on driving e-commerce business, having previously, as European account director, worked on the top FMCG accounts. He’s therefore rather uniquely placed to comment on the challenges confronting the consumer goods industry as it seeks to capitalise on the irresistible rise of the direct-to-consumer channel. Herwin spoke to Tim Sykes about omnichannel impacts, the new consumer and how packaging can meet changing demands.
e-commerce continues to record double-digit growth throughout the world, we’re reaching the point at which it shifts from being a discreet (though significant) niche to a commercial channel with a hefty impact on the bottom line. This shift in scale creates challenges for brand owners. “In terms of their packing lines our FMCG customers are generally not yet perfectly equipped to go directly into e-commerce,” observed Herwin. “Their production is still mainly orientated to bricks and mortar, and they tend to use co-packers to service the e-commerce portion of the market.
“When brand owners are experiencing growth rates of 25 per cent, inevitably FMCG businesses are going to have to bring more of their e-commerce in-house” | 4 | Packaging Europe
At a time when e-commerce was a promising market niche, this was a financially acceptable situation. However, in a context where certain global brand owners are experiencing growth rates of 25 per cent, it becomes more and more of a challenge to operate like this in a financially sound way. Inevitably, FMCG businesses are going to have to bring more of their e-commerce in-house. The challenge is that typically their current plants are not set up for this.” One of the complexities is that e-commerce packaging functionalities differ profoundly from those serving traditional retail. “There are a few players within FMCG that are highly focused, such as Nespresso, for whom there’s a very specific e-commerce market,” commented Herwin. “But for most brand owners working with everyday products, it’s a challenge to integrate e-commerce into their full supply chain view.” Just consider case count. With bricks and mortar retail they are usually laid out to pack in twelves or sixes, whereas with e-commerce they are usually packed in units of one or two but this case count is only known at the moment the consumer places the order.
“Moving forward, I expect we will see more and more of the multichannel customers developing lines that are able to fulfil both supply chains,” said Herwin. “The key change needs to happen at the end of the customer’s packing line. Where today you pack in batches of six or twelve, you don’t have many options for moving to a lower case count. We expect to see increasing flexibility in this space. At Smurfit Kappa we conceptualise this as the ‘Pack Hall of the Future’; only at the last stage of the line is it determined whether the packaging goes down the e-commerce channel, the standard retailer, the discount retailer channel, etc., with all the associated packaging requirements.” In addition, Herwin suggests that FMCG businesses may come to adopt ‘omnipackaging’ solutions such as combined units that can be broken apart. For instance a 6 x 2 case configuration might serve bricks and mortar channels, but will be separated into individual units for the e-commerce channel. It’s worth noting that the market is not homogeneously omnichannel. “There will always be some pure e-commerce players,” Herwin pointed out. “For them the challenges are different, namely to keep pace with the growth of the market. For the dedicated e-commerce players one of the strategies is to adopt a modular approach, so they can copy/paste solutions to support their growth.”
Consumer expectation If packing line integration is one headache for FMCGs, another is that the rules governing e-commerce are shifting under their feet. Market maturation brings consumer familiarity, which in turn gives rise to concrete expectations. In other words, at the same time as dealing with fast growing volumes, brand owners must deal with more exacting demands around the type of packaging that lands on doormats. “In the past you could put goods in a brown case that was much too large with lots of void – and it didn’t matter,” remarked Herwin. Those days may have been relatively recent, but feel as though they belong to another era. “People don’t accept large quantities of void fill anymore, especially if it’s plastic. Sustainability and the perception of too much packaging have become big drivers, and we’re seeing more and more dedicated solutions for e-commerce. We helped a leading e-tailer to optimise the dimensions of their parcel portfolio by applying our insights and tools which subsequently increased their logistical efficiency and reduced void by over 20 per cent.” In fact, Smurfit Kappa’s research on e-shopper attitudes has found that 40 per cent demand sustainable packaging in the goods delivered to their home. The same study – performed on consumers across Europe – reveals that the digital consumer has grown far more demanding in a range of areas.
Damage is the number one consumer concern. “The trend is towards expectation of perfect condition almost being a given,” Herwin commented. “92 per cent of consumers will send a product back if they perceive it to be damaged, or even refuse to use the same provider again.” As he sees it, this is symptomatic of a shift toward positive unboxing experience of the delivered package becoming a satisfier or even a qualifier: “Apple’s products have set a benchmark for this, but you can create experiences in e-commerce too. For example, we have worked with a vendor in the Netherlands specialising in flower gifting who uses the outer packaging shape, the pack opening and the printing to create a special moment when the gift arrives. There are also executions where the product moves toward you as you open it.” The Enjoy Flowers company also worked with Smurfit Kappa to design a package to preserve and protect fresh flowers across a long and complex supply chain. This achieved a 300 per cent sales growth among online customers. Another example is a pet food application developed for one of the biggest players in the pet food market. Smurfit Kappa designed a dispenser pack, which delivered both convenience and enhanced the brand experience. “Much of the market has yet to catch up on the experiential and branding potential of e-commerce,” Herwin suggested. It’s comparable to what happened when shelf-ready packaging emerged: at first people were just putting in perforations. Only later did they start to recognise the branding opportunities. The same process is happening now in e-commerce as customers begin to realise that e-commerce gives them the chance to have a more intimate relationship with consumers.” Indeed, Smurfit Kappa’s research emphasises the importance consumers invest in the graphic and structural design of their e-commerce packages. Some 56 per cent say that they appreciate a good unboxing experience. Meanwhile, 63 per cent consider it important that an e-commerce package is easy to handle and open.
One size fits nothing This is all unwelcome news for any FMCG companies hoping that integration of e-commerce into their existing packing facilities will be smooth and painless. The particular demands of the home-delivery channel is not conducive to one-size-fits all. The array of variables and options creates more complexity than a high volume consumer goods business may want in its supply chain. Do you personalise or version? Fit for size or standardised box sizes? How do you define ‘zero damage’? “We’re on a journey, working with the supply chain, e-tailers and above all customers trying to understand specific needs across specific applicaPackaging Europe | 5 |
tions,” Herwin revealed. “The goal is to achieve that fine balance between flexibility and harmonisation. This is once again where the ‘Pack Hall of the Future’ can come into play, where the primary formats are standardised, but channel-specific solutions and differentiation are executed at the secondary packaging stage.” Another pillar of Smurfit Kappa’s strategy is to help clarify for customers the choices they face. “We can use facts and figures to transparently show them the options,” Herwin commented. “It’s up to us to provide new insights, tools and algorithms for customers that help them to choose the right solutions.” This is why the business has poured resources into collecting consumer data. Such efforts will soon be augmented by the opening of a new User Experience Lab in the Smurfit Kappa Global Experience Centre at Schiphol that will study how consumers and other users of packaging respond to handling and opening packages. Smurfit Kappa has also developed specific tools to refine e-commerce design and decision-making: e-Pack Expert, Perfect Parcel Size and other tools that sit within the Smurfit Kappa eSmart process, which guides customers through 12 optimisation areas across e-retail processes, supply chain and consumer experience.
What’s next? Gazing beyond the horizon of the challenges of this initial adaptation to a mature omnichannel environment, what does the future hold for e-com-
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merce packaging? There is no shortage of predictions, some of them resembling science fiction. “The thing we know is that it’s forever changing, and changing very fast,” said Herwin. “Three years ago people would have looked at you strangely if you’d predicted Amazon’s Frustration Free Packaging. Similarly, few people expected we would see so much branding. ‘Focus on the last mile’ is going to remain a big trend, and driverless delivery is likely to be part of this conversation. It isn’t sustainable business-wise or environmentally to have three vans arriving at your house on the same day. So we can envisage that there will be some reliance on AI, and interaction with the packaging will help.” With packaging waste high on the agenda, there are also visions of a CPG ecosystem reliant on reusable and refillable packaging. “With reusable systems, such as Loop, the first question I would ask is: ‘What’s the return rate?’ With corrugated, certainly in western Europe, we can be relatively assured that it will be recycled. With other schemes there’s often still a lot of material that leaves the cycle. Perhaps you can combine the best of both worlds, by introducing reuse in paper-based formats. There is already extensive reuse of corrugated boxes in the cut flower market. “What we do know is that whatever happens, packaging will be an essential component and enabler of e-commerce. The landscape is sure to throw up new surprises and challenges that the value chain will have to respond to, and Smurfit Kappa will leverage its design expertise and market knowledge to be at the forefront in providing solutions.”
CONGRATULATIONS TO SUSTAINABILITY AWARDS 2019 WINNER HOLYGRAIL! On 25th September at the Sustainability Awards ceremony in Nürnberg the HolyGrail project claimed the award for ‘Driving the Circular Economy’ and also took the accolade of Sustainability Awards 2019 Overall Winner. This magazine went to press on the eve of the Sustainability Awards 2019 ceremony. We’ll bring a full report of this year’s event and outcomes in the next month’s edition.
nce packaging is designed for circularity, the collection challenge and consumer participation are solved, high quality sorting is crucial to increase the current poor recycling rates. Through improved sorting, the quality and quantities of recycled materials will be greatly increased, thereby helping the transition to a circular economy as more and better recyclate can enter the marketplace. As reported last year in Packaging Europe, the HolyGrail Pioneer Project (run by participants in the New Plastics Economy, and led by Procter and Gamble’s Gian De Belder) is investigating the potential role of both digital watermarking and chemical tracers in improving accuracy of recycling. Basic proof-of-concept has been established (P.R.I.S.M. for chemical tracers in 2018 and Filigrade and Digimarc for digital watermarks in 2019). Gian De Belder spoke to Packaging Europe about the initiative (before we had announced the identity of the winners). “By making the packs more intelligent through digital watermarks, an add-on module linked to existing sorting equipment can read these ‘barcodes’ for recycling and can do a more effective job,” he said. “This includes jobs that are not possible today, like making a distinction between food and non-food packs, sorting efficiently all coloured packs including blacks, proper sorting of full-body shrink sleeved bottles, proper identification of recyclable vs compostable packaging, efficient sorting of multi-layers and many more. The great thing about digital watermarks is that one technology can be used along the full lifecycle of a pack: from packing lines through to improved sorting at material recovery facilities and recyclers.” Major progress has been made in the digital watermark technology, where codes that are invisible to the human eye are integrated in either printed materials or directly into a mould. In addition to its huge potential for Packaging Europe | 7 |
circularity, digital watermarking has great potential to bring disruption into other fields. It effectively facilitates smart, interactive packaging, providing added functionality beyond circularity across the value chain, for inventory management at filllers, anti-counterfeit checks in stores and fast checkouts at retailers (making 2D barcodes and QR codes redundant). In terms of consumer engagement, mobile phones can now easily read a package,
Gian De Belder
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adding features such as transparency, coupons, how to use/dose a product, etc. According to HolyGrail, major retailers Wegmans and Walmart in the USA and others in Europe are signing up for this technology. “The current low EU recycling rates are mainly related to lack of infrastructure/collection schemes and participation of consumers, next to inefficient sorting,” Gian De Belder observed. “We wanted to bring solutions for the latter. During our first Open House (a key focus has been EU associations) we had many people joining us during the proof-of-concept trials and each of these associations truly embrace the technology. Next steps have been identified and we hope to soon bring it into a (test) market to further learn and prepare for full roll out.” A logical next step for HolyGrail will be to upscale from an R&D test line to a (semi-)industrial line, after which roll-out of this technology can take place. On the broader sustainability challenges facing packaged goods, Gian commented: “We need to work solutions that offer benefits in both LCA metrics and recyclability profile, as the ultimate goal is to become fully circular. We need to speak all the same language, and here harmonisation of all aspects – especially recyclability definitions – is crucial. We need to move away from opinion-based assessments and create scientific-based assessments. Note the great work currently being performed by Recyclass, which should create a level playingfield for all! “Clearly, sustainability in packaging needs to be achieved by many stakeholders acting together, not by someone with a silver bullet. Thinking about the wider picture, what areas of innovation or action would you like to see across the value chain in the coming years to meet the demands of nature and society? I am a true believer in cross-value chain collaborations as no single company can solve these challenges on their own. HolyGrail is a perfect example of this.” Gian De Belder also served as a member of the Sustainability Awards 2019 judging panel. Consistent with the competition rules governing potential conflicts of interest, he recused himself from voting or commenting on the HolyGrail submission.
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AEROSOLS: INNOVATION, DESIGN AND RECYCLING EUROPE’S AEROSOL INDUSTRY: AT A GLANCE • More than 5.7 billion of the 16 billion units produced globally were made in Europe in 2017 (a new record high, according to reported filings) • The UK, Germany and France account for more than 60 per cent of annual European aerosol production • Aerosol containers are primarily made of steel and aluminium, with glass and plastic containers remaining marginal • Cosmetics and household products represent more than three-quarters of European production (personal care 56.6 per cent, household 20.7 per cent, others 22.7 per cent) Taken from the FEA Statistics report 2017
PLASTIC AEROSOLS ON THE RISE
hen the average consumer thinks of aerosol cans, they probably think of aluminium or steel – and it’s definitely the case that metals still make up the largest percentage of overall production. We’re all pretty well-versed by now in the environmental benefits of metals. They are permanent materials that can be infinitely recycled without any loss of quality. Empty aerosols can then be safely recycled alongside other metal packaging. Simple, yes?
But it’s also the case that an increasing number of aerosols today are made from plastics, and this percentage is expected to rise. It’s also worth bearing in mind that while metal is certainly endlessly recyclable the actual carbon footprint needed to produce it is higher than plastics – something that should be taken into account when we are looking at overall life cycle analysis. “Plastic aerosols are becoming increasingly popular for several reasons,” says Nadine DeBauche, business development manager, Strategic
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Initiatives, Graham Packaging. “They will not rust on the bottom like metal spray cans and they are warmer to the touch. When exposed to high heat, pressurised metal aerosols can also be hazardous if not vented properly.” According to Ms DeBauche, plastics can also allow for greater flexibility in design, which helps to address the demand for more portable products. “As the population ages, consumers are looking for products that have more ergonomic appeal and are easier to use. Our plastic aerosol solution allows us to produce container shapes that provide better ergonomics and more attractive designs than is possible with metal. Our new champagne-base, single-piece bottle has garnered a significant amount of shelf appeal. This container has also been beneficial from a cost perspective since the manufacturing process is reduced to one piece.”
Building the circular economy The current Aerosol Dispenser Directive (ADD) was written in 1975, at a time when only brittle plastics were available, meaning they were treated in the same way as coated glass containers. The market has moved on since then, and PET is now an increasingly viable aerosol material. In 2020, an updated ADD could allow plastic aerosols beyond the current 220ml restriction in Europe. This would greatly expand their market
reach, so if it comes to pass the amendment would be a significant development for companies such as Graham. It is owing to this potential growth in the volume of plastic aerosol packages that in 2018 Petcore Europe founded, along with the FEA, the Plastic Aerosol Recycling Special Industry Group (SiG). Its aim is to enhance the value and sustainable growth of the PET value chain in Europe as well as growing the volume of recycled PET. Among other things, this is a conscious effort on the part of the industry to address one of the biggest challenges of using plastic aerosols – the low recycling rates and the negative perceptions of the material this elicits. In part, according to Petcore, this comes down to a focus on the design of the valve area to avoid any contamination (e.g. metal) to the PET recycling stream. This is an issue that still needs some exploration by the SiG. Alain D’Haese, Secretary General of FEA, the European Aerosol Federation, highlights that several valve companies are already developing PET valves. “If we want to be serious about plastic recycling,” he says, “there is a need to establish a constructive dialogue within the PET value chain. The aerosol industry is already well-advanced on the recycling of metal aerosols. Obviously, there is more work to do for the plastic stream because the topic is more recent. I think this is an opportunity to provide a good story on plastics.”
IS THE FUTURE AIR-POWERED?
t’s long been considered common knowledge that aerosols – as in the sprays themselves, rather than the container – can be damaging to the environment. I don’t need to give a history lesson here – the industry’s voluntary move away from CFCs to alternative propellants such as liquid flammable gases in 1989 is well known – but even so, it could be said that many of the propellants in use today are still damaging. Some have argued that air-powered aerosols, as opposed to the use of liquids, are ‘the future of sustainability’. One such company is Netherlands-based Airopack, which is an innovator in the area of air-powered solutions – indeed, it advocates for a ban on liquid propellants altogether, as well as the use of aerosols in-house. “Airopack is not really an aerosol at all as it contains no harmful propellants but only pure air,” says Olivier Overweg, executive vice-president, sales, at Airopack. “In fact, I would opt for rephrasing to ‘air-powered pressurised containers’.” In addition to the sustainability benefits, he explains that some of the other advantages of such a solution include: “Transparency of the bottle with less risk of flammability; pressure control device to ensure smooth, uninterrupted flow and giving complete evacuation.”
What are we breathing in? Aside from environmental concerns, there are also the health implications. As consumers become more aware of the ingredients in their products, they are demanding alternatives to propellants using potentially harmful ingredients. “We need to show the big picture on both carbon footprint and direct health threats when using packaging materials,” says Mr Overweg. “Not only the packaging material itself but also what happens when you dispense or spray. What is the impact on health when dispensing or spraying?” | 12 | Packaging Europe
No ‘single fit-for-all solution’ One thing we have learned when it comes to packaging is that there is no ‘perfect’ solution – and while the above may make it seem as though airpowered aerosols are the clear choice, it is, alas, not so simple. “Technically, air is an aerosol propellant like any other,” says Alain D’Haese, Secretary General of FEA. “It will be a compressed gas (like nitrogen or carbon dioxide) not a liquefied gas. However, in some aerosol products it is not yet technically or economically possible to replace the liquefied propellant whilst retaining product performance. Other options also exist to improve products. I do not think there is and will be a single fit-for-all solution to make aerosol dispensers more sustainable.” In short, while there is great potential for air-powered aerosols this does not mean that we can dispense with more traditional propellants altogether. But the industry is more conscious than ever of the need to mitigate their impact.
SUSTAINABLE INNOVATION: TUBEX
nilever’s Dove Men & Care recently received the German Packaging Prize 2019 in the ‘economic efficiency’ category. The can, manufactured by German company Tubex, uses a new patented alloy for slugs – a joint development between Tubex and slug supplier Neuman Aluminium. According to the company, the advantage of this patented slug’s design is that it is ready to use real postconsumer recycled scrap – up to 25 per cent and more which it says is of ‘real significance’. Another achievement of this new can is the weight reduction – up to 20 per cent less than the previous standard can. Tubex achieved this by reducing the wall thickness and slightly modifying the shape of the shoulder. But reduction of the wall thickness in turn creates its own problem: it makes the cans more susceptible to dents during packing and transport. To minimise this, Tubex has invested in a new packing technique, layer wide packaging, through which the cans are placed on pallets by robots instead of being packed in bundles. “The real advantage of this packing is that 15 per cent more cans fit onto the pallet and fifteen per cent more pallets fit onto a truck,” says managing director Leo Werdich. “This also means fifteen per cent less warehouse space / pallets are needed.”
DESIGN SPOTLIGHT: BALL PACKAGING
eaching the consumer through on-shelf differentiation is a constant challenge for brand owners. Add to this the increased consumer demand for sustainable solutions, combined with functionality and personalisation, and it’s clear to see this puts an awful lot of pressure on aerosol manufacturers to come up with ever-more innovative solutions. One big design story of the past year was Ball Packaging’s 360° can, which pairs graphics expertise with innovative shaping in order to be visually engaging from every angle. “360° brings can design to the next level, as varied shaping is available around the entire circumference of the can,” says Jason Galley, global director Innovations and Business Development. “Artwork oriented to the recessed area complements the shaping and allows for dynamic detail. For brands that embrace a clean and simple aesthetic, this new dimension can add drama without clutter.” There are also ergonomic benefits. The shaped recessed area can be designed in such a way that it provides easy grip – a feature that is useful for products where slippage can be a usability concern.
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WHAT DOES ‘SUSTAINABLE’ MEAN FOR AEROSOLS?
the midst of the ongoing climate crisis, the word ‘sustainable’ is used so often that sometimes it can seem to lose all meaning – and it can mean different things to different people, depending on their priorities or which part of the value chain they operate in. We asked our various interviewees what the word means to them within their own segment.
Olivier Overweg, Airopack: It means being as transparent as you can be. Show customers and consumers the real ‘end-to-end’ comparison of the carbon footprint. For instance: what is the comparison of energy needed to recycle aluminium, plastics or metal?
Alain D’Haese, FEA: The concept focuses on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Life-Cycle Assessment is the only tool to make relevant environmental assessments, but it is complex and costly, and the results depend on the data which are used and assumptions which are included. Aerosol packaging is only a part of the product impact.
Nadine DeBauche, Graham Packaging: Graham has committed to the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment for all plastic packaging to be reused or recycled by 2025. In addition, we’re currently focused on three primary goals that directly impact our customers: increasing post-consumer resin content in our bottles, improving recyclability in all categories and decreasing our carbon footprint.
Jason Galley, Ball Packaging: Public debate often focuses on the first-time production of aluminium, plastic or other packaging materials. This is outdated, linear economy thinking and neglects, for example, the 95 per cent energy savings that are achieved through the recycling of aluminium. Ball’s development of ReAL®, the world’s first lighter weight aluminium aerosol can, expresses our commitment to innovation and sustainability.
MAKING THE CASE FOR PLASTICS PACKAGING It has been a challenging period for the plastics packaging industry with difficult market conditions and the ongoing ‘war on plastics’ having an effect. On the eve of K 20019, Elisabeth Skoda catches up with Dr Isabell Schmidt, managing director at the IK Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen e.V., the German association for plastics packaging and films, and finds out how the situation looks from the perspective of the German plastics packaging industry.
he recent years have brought a lot of change and more stringent regulations for the plastics packaging industry both in Germany and across the EU. We ask Dr Schmidt how this has affected IK members. Are they well prepared for the coming changes? “The German Packaging Law and its quotas mainly affects packaging manufacturers that bring packs into circulation, who now have to register with a centralised authority. Our members are mostly affected by the German Packaging Law’s paragraph 21, which requires packaging design for recycling, recyclability as well as the use of recyclates and renewable materials,” she explains. Recyclability is of course a big topic in the industry. IK has been working on this over the last three years, and there is now healthy competition on the market. Many manufacturers who previously manufactured products that were considered to not be recyclable now offer alternatives, for example for composite layer films. “However, recyclability comes with disadvantages for converters, such as additional cost, additional thickness and the question of whether a material will run on a particular machine. The companies buying the films at the end of the day decide what prevails in the market,” Dr Schmidt adds.
Recyclability vs plastics reduction Plastics have been on the receiving end of some bad press in recent years, but the attempt to avoid plastics has sometimes come at the detriment of recyclability, as Dr Schmidt explains. “In politics, there is a desire for a more circular economy, i.e. better recyclability and higher recycling quotas as well the use of more recyclate in packaging. But there is a trend that goes in the opposite, and in my opinion, wrong, direction. There are now several fiber-plastics composites available on the market, such as trays for minced meat. The consumer is supposed to separate the plastic and fiber parts, but this isn’t always possible, or if it is, does not always happen. In addition, that type of packaging is often heavier, which is also questionable from a carbon footprint perspective.” She identifies a kneejerk ‘anti-plastic’ sentiment due to negative press as the cause of this.
“The German government has a five-step plan, which includes more recycling and the use of less plastic. Less plastic seems to be an easier sell than recyclability. The effect of paragraph 21 of the packaging law seems not to be strong enough to counterbalance this. A desire for less or no plastic has taken over and this sends out the wrong signal and actually isn’t of any benefit to the environment.” IK has been working hard to highlight the benefits of plastics packaging and to debunk some of the most common myths, and their work is starting to show an effect. “We have noticed that reporting is becoming more differentiated. I recently saw a report in the FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) headlined ‘That’s how good plastics is’, and even the German tabloid Bild had a front page explaining that a cotton bag emitted 313 times more CO2 than a plastic bag. Perception within the media is beginning to change. Perception by the general public can still be described as negative, so the tide has not turned yet,” Dr Schmidt says.
Better quality recyclate The European Strategy for Plastics has set a target to use ten million tonnes of recycled plastics in the EU by 2025. This includes all plastics, not just packaging. In this context, IK has set itself the ambitious aim to reuse one million tonnes of plastic packaging. “We see potential especially in the area of industrial packaging, as there are obviously restrictions on recyclate allowed for food contact,” Dr Schmidt says. There are several challenges to overcome, as she points out. “Hurdles are recyclate quality and quality fluctuations – one batch might fulfil the necessary criteria, and the next one won’t. Managing that is a big challenge. More has to happen in the recycling sector to address this, as packaging applications are more demanding than construction or the agricultural sector. Colour and smell also play a big role. There are procedures available to improve this, but this means extra effort and cost, which doesn’t improve the CO2 balance, and increases the recyclate price.” The difference in price between recyclate and virgin material is a big issue, and Dr Schmidt thinks the ability to influence that would be beneficial. Packaging Europe | 15 |
“There are discussions in Germany about taxing CO2 emissions. Doing this across various industries would have the advantage of reducing the price difference between recyclate and virgin materials. In Germany, recyclers also often have to pay the renewable energy levy as they use a lot of energy. Balancing this would be an important first step. Marking products as containing recyclate could also help, so that consumers can easily recognise it as the more environmentally friendly choice. Binding recycling quotas should be treated with care. It involves a lot of bureaucratic effort, and there is a danger that recyclates will be diverted to applications within the quota, so it is a questionable method.”
Eco design guidelines The public generally has a vague concept of what good eco design means. When asked, one person might highlight recyclability, the other the CO2 balance, and a third one may talk about organic produce. “We were keen to focus on thinking deeper with regards to eco design – what is it and what is involved? It cannot be narrowed down to just one thing. Our eco design guideline shows the entire bandwidth and helps to integrate eco design into packaging development. This means thinking about a strategy, starting from company goals and brand image. Companies have to think about what is most important to them, whether it’s CO2, recyclability or resource efficiency. Based on that they can formulate concrete goals for packaging and measure them in terms that are relevant to them, for example material use, Co2 and recyclability. With our check lists and toolbox, we are not reinventing the wheel but we are guiding users round existing tools,” says Dr Schmidt.
The ‘unpackaged’ trend In recent months, an increasing number of supermarkets and grocery stores have started to offer their products with little or no packaging. What does a plastics packaging association think of this? “I think that on principle it is a positive thing that shops are thinking about this and using their creativity, and it makes consumers think about
“Wrapping cucumbers in plastics prolongs shelf life and prevents food waste, but during the summer, when it is sourced locally, this may not be necessary.” their habits. It makes them aware that packaging design starts a lot earlier in the supply chain and makes them think about what distribution method is good for what product. Our IK guideline also states that. For example, toothpaste doesn’t necessarily have to be delivered in the shape of paste, it could also be presented in the shape of tablets,” Dr Schmidt points out. She is keen to highlight that it makes sense to package as little as possible but enough to avoid product waste. This varies for different products and situations. She uses the classic example of a cucumber wrapped in plastics to illustrate. “Wrapping cucumbers in plastic prolongs shelf life and saves food waste, especially in the winter months, when it is imported from Spain. However, during the summer, when the cucumber is sourced locally, maybe it is not necessary to wrap it in plastics, and an unpackaged cucumber is best.” It is important to package smart, and it depends on the product as to what packaging is best, Dr Schmidt adds. “With beef, its carbon footprint is so high that it is worth avoiding even the smallest bit of waste with packaging. Making sustainability just about ‘no plastics’ doesn’t work. That is oversimplifying things too much. However, in my experience, owners of these ‘unpackaged’ shops think a lot about sustainability in the supply chain; the problem sometimes lies with their customers and ‘followers’ who lack that differentiated view. Plastics can often be considered taboo in the industry, but they don’t have a problem with single-use glass despite its carbon footprint being higher.” She highlights the importance of differentiated thinking and using packaging in a smart way. “I would like the sustainability debate to be less ideologically tinted and more open to different arguments. This can then create innovation that thinks outside the box, such as toothpaste in tablet shape. It’s also important to promote breadth and regional products. It’s important to advise consumers to buy products that make sense for them – best to buy something maybe a bit more heavily packaged when it can reduce food waste.”
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BIOPLASTICS: WHERE ARE WE NOW? Innovation in bioplastics development continues apace, but there is still much to be done and many challenges to be overcome if we are to see their more widespread adoption. We heard from three different voices from the industry – Stefano Facco from Novamont, Caine Folkes-Miller from Floreon and Anantshree Chaturvedi from FlexFilms Inc. – to gain their insights into the state of the industry and where it is headed.
he conversation around bioplastics is a complex one, and there are varying opinions as to their merits and drawbacks. They have been around on the market for over 20 years but their high cost and relatively low commercial value has in the past meant they have been considered low-volume, niche materials. But the market statistics suggest that the tide may be slowly but surely turning. According to the most recent data released by European Bioplastics in collaboration with the nova-Institute, global production capacities of bioplastics have been predicted to grow from around 2.11 million tonnes in 2018 to approximately 2.62 million tonnes by 2023. “The market is indeed growing in a healthy way,” says Stefano Facco, new business development director at Novamont. “Bioplastics have well demonstrated worldwide their benefit when organic recycling is adopted. Packaging Europe | 19 |
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New recycling schemes, including such polymers, are evolving in parallel to the increase in our production capacity. There are already many products on the market, and new developments in the area of high barrier bio-polymers will further help to grow the market.”
‘Significant opportunities’ Some of these new developments hold great potential. There are several recycling options currently under evaluation, including chemical recycling and the development of monomaterial solutions. Organic recycling is also an option in certain product categories – particularly that contaminated by food residues. A challenge here is to develop compostable solutions that can meet the stringent demands of the food sector, such as compostable high barrier films that can perform in the same way as traditional plastics. “Given the direction taken by European legislation, and given the benefits already demonstrated, food packaging could be one of the sectors in which bioplastics will increase significantly,” says Mr Facco. “Indeed, according to several studies, the replacement of some types of food packaging with compostable solutions would bring benefits in terms of better management of food waste within both large-scale distribution and domestic environment. Moreover, it will help to reduce landfilling, improving the quality of organic waste collected, thus allowing the production of high-quality compost.” Home composting solutions for flexible films are a particular area of focus, as they are difficult to recycle, have a limited resale value and often contain food residues. “Composting your films either at home or via food
waste collection and recycling your rigid higher value packaging would be a compelling and relatively quick to implement solution,” says Caine Folkes-Miller, commercial director at UK-based Florean. “The same could be said for fast food packaging which by nature is going to be contaminated with food waste. If these could be disposed of to composting via the same stream it would provide significant opportunities.” “Certainly, the increase of composting plants, the improvement of existing technologies, and the introduction of new innovative recyclable technologies will play a fundamental role in simplifying the growth of the sector and allow it to reach maturity,” adds Mr Facco. That being said, it should not be seen as a case of either / or when it comes to recycling and composting – rather using the most appropriate end-of-life pathway for each product.
Barriers to adoption But despite the above, there are still several factors slowing down widespread adoption of bioplastics. One of the biggest of these relates to the regulatory climate across Europe. Stefano Facco argues that at European level it is vital to provide for a harmonisation of the legislative framework, reduce duplication and fragmentation, and encourage investments in line with an industrial policy in the sector. “For example, the Single-Use Plastics Directive tried to give an answer to an important problem: marine litter. It should be noted that marine litter (plastics or other materials) comes from land. Thus, if we do not address the waste on land, strengthening a proper waste management system, we Packaging Europe | 21 |
will not solve the issue of marine litter. In this context, compostable materials represent one of the possible solutions for specific plastic applications, which today are not collected with plastic waste or are not recycled for technical or economic reasons. Unfortunately, this directive is missing a holistic approach with the risk of stopping innovation and solutions.” And some, in fact, still argue that bioplastics are less sustainable than building a better recycling model for existing materials. “That is why the EU is thinking to go the mono-material/polyolefin route as these materials can be recycled into garden furniture, decking, and flower pots readily after their use in flexible packaging,” says Anantshree Chaturvedi, vicechairman & CEO, FlexFilms Inc. – the global manufacturing arm of India’s Uflex. In his opinion, bioplastics will likely become more cost-effective after substantial investments from major chemical companies, but this is at least a decade from today. “Uflex has been working on an alternative aerobic bio-degradation material for sustainability purposes. This would then meet the best of both worlds in acceptance and sustainability.” There is also the question of supply and demand – until the latter increases, investment in the former cannot reach the levels the industry would need to see to ensure sustainable economic growth. “There is a need for more suppliers with greater capacity,” says Caine Folkes-Miller. “For this to happen there needs to be a concerted effort to commit to the use of bioplastics in key areas where it makes the most sense (flexible packaging, fast food containers
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and accessories). This would drive down costs and accelerate research and development which would see the packaging market in a very different place 5-10 years from now.” According to Mr Chaturvedi, for this to happen the industry also needs to find the correct balance between functionality and cost-effectiveness. “The heavy investment into R&D by biopolymer companies into low-cost routes of bio-monomer production will give the greatest return in the next decade. Some further bioplastics will emerge with unique properties. Bioplastics need to match the functional and barrier properties of the fossil plastics without exceeding a 15-20 per cent mark-up. This will then start finding a place in the multi-layer plastic segment.”
Bioplastics vs fossil-based? With all the highly charged conversations around fossil-based plastics and their alternatives, it can be hard to get a clear picture. And in fact, seeing it as a case of ‘either/or’ when it comes to fossil-based or bioplastics may not be helpful. While it is clear that end-of-life infrastructure and industrial scale need to develop further, we should not ignore the fact that other materials, such as glass and wood, are very energy-intensive to produce. However, to fully utilise the benefits of bioplastics, recycling waste streams need to be developed. Caine Folkes-Miller points out that the technology already exists to recycle materials such as PLA back to food grade material, but food waste collection also needs to be developed.
“A big concern is bioplastics being unnecessarily caught up in the backlash on plastics and some of the knee jerk reactions in terms of regulatory approaches, specifically around single-use plastics,” says Caine Folkes-Miller. “Increasing the use of carton board, glass and wood has a very negative impact on energy consumption and carbon footprint. Plastic has been so successful due to its resource efficiency. Now it’s time to consider that bioplastics provide a really great opportunity to have the best of both worlds – resource efficiency and performance of fossil-based plastics but from renewable low carbon sources. “The key message is that we should not view the answer as bioplastics vs fossil plastics. We need to think of how best to optimise the use of both which is the only realistic answer to the challenges faced by the packaging industry today.”
Building a circular economy When we consider the circular economy strategies in fossil-based plastics, there seems to be a growing consensus that we need to move towards monopolymer solutions that can be more easily recycled. We might envisage for example that simplification of the market and the collection / recycling infrastructure could have winners (polyolefins) and losers (polystyrene) when it comes to fossil-based plastics. But do these kinds of dynamics have any impact on the bioplastics landscape? “These dynamics could certainly have impacts and could even create new case studies of cooperation between recyclable plastics and the
compostable bioplastics sector, as has been demonstrated by ongoing studies carried out for the production of compostable bioplastics starting from monomers derived from plastics recycling and combined with biobased building blocks,” says Stefano Facco. “Furthermore, the bioplastic sector could even have interest in depolymerisation technologies to further increase environmental sustainability and reduce the use of raw materials in the logic of a circular bio-based economy.” Novamont believes the circular bioeconomy could be one solution to our present climate crisis. “This model is based on the construction of bioeconomy infrastructures with integrated agricultural value chains and on the development of innovative products designed as opportunities to find solutions to problems affecting environment and society. A long-term strategy is essential to redesign the entire system, but in the short term, we need to rethink the products, their use and their disposal from a circular and eco-design perspective.” Lastly, some have pointed out that as a growing industrial sector, bioplastics could provide future European employment growth. They could, for example, make a contribution to rural development by providing income in areas that might otherwise decline economically. But while Europe is making strides when it come so R&D and the scaling-up of biomass production, it does need to step up the transformation of research knowledge to industrial applications if we are to reach the necessary economies of scale for production and conversion.
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As the digitally printed packaging market hesitates to go fully mainstream, a potentially disruptive option for market entry has been quietly establishing itself. Tim Sykes visited Memjet’s San Diego headquarters to learn about its low cost / high quality proposition.
A GAME-CHANGER FOR DIGITAL PRINT?
or the uninitiated, Memjet’s unique technology is based on pioneering work by Australian Kai Silverbrook, who essentially reimagined the digital printhead with a nozzle density and head width that far surpassed everything else on the market. Memjet’s core technology is characterised by low equipment and running costs, small drop sizes for optimised ink usage, and up to 5x redundancy for low intervention. Having launched its VersaPass aqueous dye-based, single-pass digital print system in 2009, the DuraLink modular print system with pigment ink in 2017, and a next-generation system with a newly designed thermal inkjet head – DuraFlex – ahead of this year’s LabelExpo Europe, Memjet now has a portfolio that can support a wide range of packaging and labelling requirements, including the ability to stitch together multiple printheads for wide formats. Helping to power affordable, simple but powerful entry-level press systems with speed and quality as an alternative to large investments in complex equipment, the company views itself as at the forefront of developments that will drive the future of digital label printing.
Bigger than we imagine For Donald Allred (Memjet’s VP Packaging, business development) digital print is all about switching perspective from a cost game to a value game. “The supply chain efficiencies associated with digital printing (just in time production, reducing stock, eliminating the need for plates) is some-
thing everyone knows,” he told Packaging Europe. “What I think really gets these early adopters excited isn’t the savings they can make, but how much additional revenue they can generate by adding value. For a long time, many printing businesses have focused on slimming down costs to carve out a bit of extra profit. For me the exciting thing is to challenge them to shift mindset and think about how much money they can make.” The two packaging market drivers that support the case for a more bullish attitude are the irresistible growth of e-commerce, on one hand, and promotional activities within bricks-and-mortar retail on the other. “With all the data they collect, brands know who they are selling to, enabling them to customise and to market additional services,” Donald remarked. “E-commerce fulfilment businesses can get a premium for
“There’s very little data capture around what’s happening in e-commerce fulfilment, and I’m not sure anyone really knows the volume of digital printing that’s going on there” Packaging Europe | 27 |
Memjet’s new DuraFlex printhead
being able to add branding and promotion on white boxes. Customers with big ambitions for e-commerce growth will see it as a no-brainer to do this if it costs 25 cents a box and the product sells for 100 dollars.” Within the arms race of traditional, in-store retail he sees ever growing pressure to run regular promotions: “If brand managers are aggressive about their sales, they’ll be proactive in doing whatever they can to drive them. Everyone likes to have a five-year plan but sometimes you have to react in six months – this pressure is going to drive demand for digital print.” Naturally, some printers embrace the paradigm shift away from margins to adding value, along with its connotations, more readily than others. However, Memjet believes that the modest investment implications of a press powered by one of its printheads – the capital outlay could be as low as $125,000 – makes it much easier to enter the market and learn how to leverage the opportunities of digital print. In fact, Donald suspects the transformation may be more advanced than the industry has realised. The inroads made by digital print may be bigger than we imagine. “The statistics don’t necessarily reflect the true extent, since to my knowledge most of the data we have derives from the promotional applications – the mass versioning – which tends to be handled by the traditional converters,” he said. “On the other hand, there’s very little data capture around what’s happening in e-commerce fulfilment, and I’m not sure anyone really knows the volume of digital printing that’s going on there. What I do know is that a lot of our printheads are going into these applications.”
Into the marketplace As the technology gradually penetrates these markets, Memjet’s strategy is characterised by flexibility toward commercial models – following the principle that ‘we don’t make money unless the customer makes money’. The leaders of the business are also palpably excited by the partnerships with OEMs who apply Memjet technology to fulfil revolutionary new capabilities. For instance, France-based MGI Digital Technology applied a Memjet DuraLink inkjet printhead, ink and modules to create the AlphaJET B1 Inkjet Printing and Embellishment Press: a five-colour digital printing system that offers decorative special effects such as 2D/3D UV dimensional textures and variable embossed foil. It’s a solution that consolidates usually disconnected operational workflows such as primer coating, printing and embellishment into what is essentially an all-in-one industrial print factory. “MGI is a great example of how our technology is enabling other people to go out and use their imaginations,” commented Donald Allred. “Our print| 28 | Packaging Europe
DuraFlex print module
head is easy to integrate, meaning the companies we deal with don’t have to be printing experts. What they need is a vision of a customer requirement that needs to be met.” He continued: “I’m a big believer in applying technology in the spot where it’s most suited. To me this suggests there will be a lot of hybrid applications – whether that is a multi-function printing-coating solution, or adding die-cutting, or some analogue printing systems. And for e-commerce there’s a great opportunity to combine digital printing with automated fit-to-size box makers.” Sales cycles are lengthy but we are now beginning to see years of R&D and business development come to fruition, with more and more Memjet applications in the marketplace. At this year’s LabelExpo, for instance, Memjet partners included UPG, Rigoli, Lemorau, VIP Color, Printing Innovation, Astro Machine Corp, New Solution, Afinia Label, and PCMC.
The next generation LabelExpo was also the first showcase for DuraFlex, the latest advance in Memjet’s technology – a modular, single-pass print solution. This is claimed to combine Memjet’s generic USPs of speed, simplicity and affordability with enhanced durability, A4 and A3 plus widths that can be stitched up to 1.2 metres, in a four-color printhead, a high-speed data path and modules that control all printhead functions. Together, these features are intended to extend to OEMs the resources to create affordable benchtop, mini-press and entry-level presses capable of quality and speed previously not available in these types of solutions. With 1600 x 1600 dpi and built-in nozzle redundancy, DuraFlex is claimed to deliver market-leading print quality at print speeds up to 46 m/min. DuraFlex is conceived as a resource that fits strategically alongside its existing VersaPass and DuraLink platforms, adding a pigment ink solution to the dye ink solutions provided by VersaPass. Memjet believes that thanks to this addition, it now possesses the technological range to power any type of digital printer in the market. “By simplifying the development process for our OEMs and offering outstanding image quality as well as performance, DuraFlex solves OEMs’ most pressing challenge: getting affordable printing solutions to market faster without sacrificing the quality and speed users demand in these rapidly evolving print markets,” commented Kim Beswick, general manager of Memjet’s benchtop and mini-press division. In a packaging marketplace that has appeared perfectly shaped for digital print but has so often proved sceptical about ROI, these are bold claims – and Memjet’s promise of affordable agility is a potential gamechanger. We should very much watch this space.
A GLIMPSE OF THE FUTURE – DEVELOPMENTS IN SMART PACKAGING MARKET POTENTIAL • Between US$5 trillion and US$10 trillion worth of consumables are sold globally each year and the vast majority of them are packaged in some way, generating a packaging market of US$424 billion. Smart packaging therefore has the potential to create value and to disrupt traditional business models. • The global market for smart packaging is currently estimated at $5.3 billion and growing at CAGR of 8% for a projected value of $7.8 billion by 2021. • When ranking industries on a scale for stages of market adoption, ranging from introduction to growth and maturity, pharmaceutical smart packaging is in the lead, followed by liquors and spirits, cosmetics and food, with industrial products furthest away from maturity. Sources: Smithers Pira and Deloitte
UNLOCKING THE POWER OF QR CODES
onnected packaging has emerged as a way for food and beverage producers to connect with consumers, and solutions like scannable QR codes can turn physical packs into interactive tools. Aseptic packaging and system provider SIG researched QR code usage around the world. The company asked consumers in Brazil, Europe and China how they use and perceive QR codes on smartphone-enabled packaging.
China is leading the way SIG first asked consumers how often they currently scan QR codes. In Brazil and Europe, usage rates were similar with just seven and eight per cent of consumers, respectively, scanning QR codes several times a week. In China, however, this figure rose to 50 per cent. This not only shows that QR codes are far more established in China but also that brands in Brazil and Europe could do more to promote their value to consumers. “Consumers in both these markets scored QR codes highly for being innovative, useful and easy to use, as well as important for product peace of mind. But many also cited a lack of awareness as a major hurdle to
scanning more often. To reach the high engagement levels seen in China, brands in Brazil and Europe therefore need to provide clearer information on what consumers stand to gain with connected packaging,” comments Ayed Katrangi, SIG’s senior product manager automation and digitalization.
Trust and transparency By using fraud-proof printing technologies, QR codes can offer a viable way to increase product trust and transparency. In Brazil and Europe, SIG found consumers are particularly interested in production and expiry dates, as they want to learn about a product’s journey and quality. In China, meanwhile, confirmation of product authenticity is key with 94 per cent of consumers believing this is essential for product peace of mind. “Connected packaging enables the collection of real-time data throughout the product journey – from sourcing, processing, filling, quality checks and logistics, right up to the supermarket shelf,” says Katrangi. “All this data can be linked to each individual package, so relevant and transparent information is always available to consumers.”
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Scanning for the right reasons For brands using QR codes on packaging, knowing the right consumer incentives is crucial. In all surveyed markets, instant free gifts – closely followed by cash back – is seen as the most important trigger to scan a QR code. In China, scanning QR codes for financial gain is already a well-established practice. In fact, 65 per cent of consumers here think it’s the most important reason to scan – more important than peace of mind, shopping assistance, information or entertainment.
Entertainment equals engagement With QR codes, consumers can access a wealth of interactive content with their smartphones, which can make a brand and its products seem more attractive. In Brazil and Europe, video content, including TV shows, movies and animations, is seen as the most appealing entertainment form for 56 and 40 per cent of consumers respectively. In China, however, consumers are more interested in accessing online gaming with 59 per cent of consumers rating this as their preferred
entertainment. In addition, consumers also want to broadcast their product interactions on social media, highlighting how they are looking to share and discuss brand experiences. On-pack entertainment emerges as a proven gateway for consumer engagement.
Enhanced shopping experiences In addition to entertainment, QR codes can also facilitate more convenient shopping experiences. In Brazil (72 per cent) and Europe (41 per cent), consumers want to know the physical locations where they can purchase the relevant product. In Brazil, 75 per cent are ready to scan QR codes regularly to access online shopping assistance. In China, consumers are also interested in knowing where to buy a product, but the majority want to be taken directly to the product company’s website to shop via quick links. “In all markets, it’s apparent that consumers are ready to switch to brands that offer more convenient online shopping assistance and options. QR codes provide an ideal platform for these enhanced experiences,” Mr Katrangi says.
NFC AND CONNECTED PACKAGING
ackaging that interacts with smartphones has enjoyed great popularity in countries like China, but uptake in Europe and the US was slow, and the lack of engaging experiences and the need to download different apps to access functionality were roadblocks. NFC (Near Frequency Communication) becoming more widely available is beginning to change this. “When Apple introduced support for their NFC framework, brands began to sit up and take notice. They are now increasingly willing to commit to NFC deployments at scale because of the business benefits it offers. These include new purchase insights, access to previously unavailable consumer data, and more effective consumer engagement which leads to increased brand loyalty,” says Cameron Worth, CEO and founder at SharpEnd – The Agency of Things ™. Changing consumer behaviours have also played a key role in this shift. Connected solutions have become a seamless part of the consumer experience, he adds.
“Consumers are increasingly familiar with NFC technology, thanks to it becoming an intrinsic part of the familiar ecosystem people use every day, such as transport, access control, Apple Pay etc. As the technology continues its journey to mainstream awareness and usage, it’s a no-brainer for brands to look at how it can be incorporated into their products. Therefore, we should expect to see NFC and wider connected solutions become commonplace, and, in particular, more brands facilitating two-way conversations with their target consumers built around insights, data and personalisation.
Learning about wine with a tap A cooperation between SharpEnd, Guala Closures and Californian wine brand Böen gives consumers instant access to information about the wine they are purchasing by tapping the bottle’s cap with their smartphone with e-WAK®, described as Guala Closures’ first NFC-integrated aluminium closure for wine. Böen deployed the technology on its wine bottles, harnessing the power of NFC. “Companies should think carefully about the technology they are using. The starting point should not be ‘what can I do with this technology?’, but ‘how will this technology enhance the consumer experience’? A clear purpose is beneficial to avoid technology for the sake of it,” Mr Worth points out. It was this approach led to the creation of the ‘tap-the-cap’, app-less format with the aim to offer consumers a frictionless experience. It gives direct access to an interactive farmhouse that provides services relevant to every stage of the consumer journey. This demonstrates the possibilities of focusing on IoT as a creative challenge, rather than a technical problem. Mr Worth concludes: “There is increasing consumer demand for connected packaging across a range of technologies. We know from experience that brands who leverage connected packaging to drive engagement can learn more about what their consumers want and keep up with emerging trends.” Packaging Europe | 33 |
FORENSIC COUNTERFEIT-PROOF FEATURE FOR PHARMA LABELS
cooperation between Schreiner MediPharm and Applied DNA Sciences harnesses the potential of DNA to offer a new forensic authentication feature for pharmaceutical labels. DNA markers are deemed to be impossible to counterfeit and are recognised as forensic authentication evidence in courts of law. SigNature® DNA is a high-security feature based on DNA markers. DNA molecular tags belong to the category of covert authentication features. They are based on uniquely modified, encrypted DNA sequences. Various multi-level methods to verify the covert authentication feature along
the supply chain are available to informed experts: Beacon® technology, for instance, enables fast, reliable on-site verification by means of a decryptant liquid and a UV lamp. Specialised mobile devices may be used to authenticate the SigNature® DNA molecular tags as well. An extensive, forensic DNA analysis by a laboratory provides results that qualify as admissible evidence in courts of law. Using conventional printing techniques, Schreiner MediPharm says it is able to flexibly and invisibly integrates this high-security technology from Applied DNA Sciences into existing label designs.
PROLONGING SHELF LIFE AND ELIMINATING ODOURS
IAD, an Italian chemical group, has developed a solution to address the issue of unpleasant odours in fresh food packaging which sometimes occur even if there is nothing wrong with the food. Aroma+ is set to solve the issue that can occur due to volatile and organic compounds of the food without changing the taste of the actual food product. A university study explored the benefits with regards to sensory and microbiological properties for sausages. “We use natural aromas on a liquid base that we combine with the appropriate gas mixture for the MAP of the food. Rosemary aroma was used within the sausage packaging to address the issue of browning and smells of rancid fat and blood. Using the rosemary aroma with antioxidant properties, the original colour was retained until the end of the shelf life, and fat oxidation was reduced,” explains Rhoman Rossi, a member of SIAD’s marketing team. Aroma+ was also tested for other fresh foods, such as fresh pasta and chicken, and the results showed a reduction in unpleasant odours until the end of shelf life.
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FLEXIBLE PACKAGING: RESILIENTLY BENDING TO CHALLENGES Guido Aufdemkamp, executive director of the Flexible Packaging Europe association, delves into the European flexible packaging sector with overarching expert insight, alongside wider context from the US branch, with Alison Keane, president and CEO of the Flexible Packaging Association. Libby White reports.
lexible Packaging Europeâ€™s (FPE) core activity is representing the European flexible packaging industry at a European level and on the international stage. FPE deals with a wide range of issues relevant to the flexible packaging industry, most notably food contact, sustainability and environmental issues. The Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) is the US association of the manufacturers of flexible packaging; and material or equipment suppliers to the industry.
What is flexible packaging? Flexible packaging is produced from paper, plastic, film, aluminium foil, or any combination of those materials, and includes bags, pouches, labels, liners, sachets, lids, wraps, rollstock, and other flexible products. Packaging Europe | 37 |
Guido Aufdemkamp explains further, “Flexible packaging means packaging structures which are not rigid and bend easily. They are produced from a wide variety of substrate materials in the form of film or foil. This includes polymers films, paper and aluminium foil used either separately (single-layer structure) or in combination by adhesive- or extrusion-lamination (multilayer structure).” He shares the latest market figures. Total annual production from Europe last year exceeded €15.6bn, of which 78 per cent was accounted for from western Europe, with 22 per cent coming from eastern Europe. The region remains the most significant exporter with approximately 10 per cent of its production consumed outside Europe. Forecasts expect growth to continue, with sales achieving €16bn in Europe, while global consumption is predicted to reach nearly US$113bn (€100 billion) by 2023. Indeed, according to Alison Keane flexible packaging continues to be the fastest growing segment of the packaging industry worldwide. She says, “In the US, it is second only to corrugated cardboard. Our biggest segment continues to be food, which accounts for half of our packaging end-use market. Every category of the food segment except tobacco is projected for growth. Trends have to do with sustainability – moving to recyclable and compostable packaging and bio-based materials. Digital printing is also a trend.” Back in Europe, Guido Aufdemkamp points to pet food, ready meals and convenience products, as well as pharmaceuticals and health products benefiting from healthy growth. “Stand-up pouches will continue to grow at an upper single digit growth rate, especially within baby food, healthy snacks, dog and cat treats and all kind of snacks. Portionability will become more important among the confectionery and snack categories,” Guido Aufdemkamp shares. “This means smaller and/or multiple packs, but also reclosable and resealable packaging with the latter also important for the dairy categories.”
Challenging public perception Flexible packaging faces challenges to prove compliance with the continuously evolving requirements of the relevant regulation on food safety (food contact regulation). Alongside this, an understandably pressing challenge in today’s climate of focus is to ensure flexible packaging supports a circular economy. Guido Aufdemkamp goes so far as to say that it is just as vital that flexible packaging is perceived as such by the stakeholders. He argues, “Flexible packaging is very resource efficient as it uses a very small amount of material to achieve the requested functionalities, and its overall environmental impact is limited, generally lower than alternative packaging solutions. “However, this is rarely recognised because the very small amount of material contained in the pack is generally less easy to recycle and, today, recyclability is the key driver of the public perception for packaging sustainability.” The strong anti-plastic rhetoric today, coupled with an overriding ideology that recycling equals sustainability, amounts to a simplistic approach to a worldwide problem that may have a detrimental effect on flexibles. Alison Keane sums up however that flexible packaging has holistic sustainability attributes, pointing towards the bigger picture.
“Flexible packaging is very resource efficient as it uses a very small amount of material to achieve the requested functionalities. […] However, this is rarely recognised because the very small amount of material contained in the pack is generally less easy to recycle.”
Circular economy The FPE takes sustainability seriously, Guido Aufdemkamp underlines. He explains, “To further enhance the performance of flexible packaging in the circular economy, with the improvement of its recyclability, FPE initiated the CEFLEX project and its members have been actively supporting since its creation, together with other stakeholders of the entire flexible packaging value chain.” The objective is to increase collection, sorting and recycling of flexible packaging across Europe and to develop end-markets for recycled materials. This will be achieved by combining optimised packaging design and improved infrastructures for post-consumer collection and treatment. Packaging Europe | 39 |
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In parallel, FPE continues to explain and educate on the resource efficiency benefits of flexible packaging, considering the holistic picture. “For that, we have developed a comprehensive online information package with facts and figures targeting the people working in the fields of flexible packaging and products packed in flexible packaging but also the general public,” shares Guido Aufdemkamp. Alison Keane adds that many of their members are part of the Ellen McArthur Foundation (EMF) and the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, working on infrastructure and solutions to plastic pollution, mainly from Asian countries. She states, “According to the Ocean Conservancy, 60 per cent of the global marine debris originates from five countries in Asia. EMF reports that 82 per cent of plastic global marine debris comes from Asia, whereas by comparison only 2 per cent comes from the US and Europe combined.” End of life is a vital element the association supports. They are heavily involved in research and development with members on end-of-life management, including mechanical recycling, chemical recycling, use of post-consumer content and recyclable/compostable/biobased alternatives.
Continuous innovation The flexible packaging industry continues to innovate with new structures and new features, either to provide improved functionalities (e.g. longer shelf life or better convenience) or to serve the same purpose with reduced resources. The key trends of the market today, says Guido Aufdempkamp, “include for example flexible packaging with re-closable and re-sealable features,
providing the end consumers with new services and helping them to reduce the risks of food waste.” The winners of the FPA Flexible Packaging Achievement awards 2019 point to some standout innovation in the field this year. Check out the accompanying case studies highlighted alongside this article to learn how the industry is innovating.
Why flexible? It must be emphasised that the main purpose of packaging is to contain and protect the product, enabling the proper and safe delivery to the final user, whilst also to reduce the risks of food waste and the associated environmental and economic burdens. Flexible packaging perfectly fulfils this, enthuses Guido Aufdemkamp – and, he argues, often in more resource efficient ways than alternative packaging types solutions, even with low recycling rates, underlining: “Today’s efforts to optimise its end of life, with proper collection and improved sorting and recycling, will only further increase its sustainability and relevance.” Flexible packaging also has a plethora of holistic sustainability benefits, such as light weighting/source reduction; transportation efficiency; high product to package ratios; and its reduction in water usage, greenhouse gas emissions, and fossil fuel consumption. Alison Keane concludes, “We continue to forecast good growth over the next five years, despite the ‘anti-plastic’ sentiment, given the overall sustainability of this packaging type and its ability to fight food insecurity and food waste.” Packaging Europe | 41 |
CASE STUDY ONE The FPA Flexible Packaging Achievement awards 2019 went to Molson Coors’ 12 Pack Cooler Bag which creates a fresh take on the ubiquitous beer carton. The new flexible bag delivers portable convenience with a pouch that expands into a larger, reusable bag that provides additional convenience features. This innovative package features easy-carry handles and can go directly into the refrigerator or cooler. The film’s sturdy, high performance structure allows consumers to reuse the bag. Reusability provides brand benefits to communicate benefits and quality to brand-loyal consumers over and over again.
CASE STUDY TWO Harney & Sons desired a flexible pouch with luxurious graphics that would protect the aroma and flavour of their fine teas while supporting their environmental values. TC Transcontinental Packaging, in collaboration with Charter NEX Films, Inc. and The Dow Chemical Company, achieved all of Harney & Sons’ key criteria of excellent shelf appeal, shelf life, and recyclability. This pouch is the first commercial example of a package which contains EVOH, for oxygen barrier, and moisture barrier properties in a format which is 100 per cent recyclable for in-store drop-off.
CASE STUDY THREE A flexible peanut bag made of certified compostable materials was developed for arenas and stadiums to help sports teams, venues, and leagues achieve the next level of landfill waste diversion by eliminating a pesky food scrap contaminant. The chief benefit of the new bag is that it reduces the amount of labour previously devoted to the manual sorting of materials collected during clean-up after games. The economic benefit is the lowering of overall waste management costs for the venue. The environmental benefits of this package centre around the use of renewable resources and its easy inclusion into the venue managed composting programme.
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GABRIEL-CHEMIE SHARES DIGITALISATION AND SUSTAINABILITY EXPERTISE The Gabriel-Chemie Group will once again be present at K2019 in Hall 5, Booth B40, sharing a new booth design as well as numerous new, innovative solutions and product demonstrations. The main topics up for discussion are digitalisation and sustainability.
ack in 2018, at Fakuma, Gabriel-Chemie launched its custom developed platform Master Of Batch™ which penetrated the digital and networked world. In addition, the Smart Search Tool was launched last year with Master Of Colours. This year the solution will be complemented with the extension of Master Of Additives.
Disruptive development Gabriel-Chemie has launched a new product line called Taggent Technology Series (TagTec). Offered in addition to predefined application modules, as a customised solution for specific requirements, the solution is aimed at providing plastic parts with an individual DNA, a signature for identity like a fingerprint. This combination is useful for all stages of a product cycle – from manufacturing, quality management, the supply chain or the circular economy of raw materials to the end of a product life – every single step, from production to distribution, is traceable. The product authentication and any security concerns are ensured by appropriate markers or ‘taggants’. An overview of the basic functionality of the TagTec series and a selection of different application options, even with a demonstration sorting system on the stand, is presented by Gabriel-Chemie in Düsseldorf together with its partners ALPLA and Wittmann Battenfeld (hall 15, booth C06).
New COLOUR VISION No.20 An integral part of the Gabriel-Chemie autumn presentations is the colour concept COLOUR VISION no. 20. The topics focus on Sustainability and Spirituality. Both motives are more present than ever and unite the promotion of actual principles of responsible use and also the considerate handling of resources, as well as the careful and conscious handling of oneself and one’s surroundings. The associated colours and materials of the COLOUR VISION Sustainability range follow these principles and showcase dry colour and surface impressions. These were realised on the basis of PCR and PIR polymers. Furthermore, new additives have been used which, among other features, enable detectability in the recycling stream. The colour spectrum of the Spirituality COLOUR VISION ranges from an intense and vibrant red to a marble effect elaboration in magical blue shades. | 44 | Packaging Europe
Near-infrared detection in the recycling stream The already mentioned detectability in the recycling stream refers to a professional solution for near-infrared-detectable and sortable thermoplastic masterbatch colours. The masterbatch is made by using special pigment formulations which enable the correspondent sorting and recycling, is food contact approved and even laser markable. It can be extruded, blown or moulded by injection, compression, etc.
Laser-markable reinforces sustainable values A laser additive masterbatch enables the contact-free, permanent marking, labelling and decoration of plastic parts without using any printing ink or solvents. A marking can be made on soft, coarse, stepped and curved surfaces and is abrasion-resistant, resistant to chemicals and lightfast. The use of laser additive masterbatch makes it possible to create customised designs and personalised markings and is perfectly suited to complex and rapidly changing layouts, making it the most sustainable alternative to all conventional methods of customisation. Therefore Gabriel-Chemie continues to build on its close cooperation with beLaser® and will demonstrate the partnership at the K in the form of a separate laser area.
Sustainability strategy throughout the group As a second-generation owner-managed family business, GabrielChemie is today one of Europe’s leading masterbatch producers after almost 70 years of existence. A long-term and, above all, sustainable strategy is therefore a priority that focuses on delivering high quality and innovation. Sustainability has been a strong focus for Gabriel-Chemie in recent years. Responsibility and awareness of resource-processes pave the way for the group into the future. The upcoming generations in the family business are also adding their voice to the drive for sustainability. In addition to the NIR detectable product range, the group-wide initiatives also include PCR masterbatches, Corporate Social Responsibility, awareness, circular economy and recycling, brand identity & personality.
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“WE CAN’T TURN OUR BACKS ON THE TIGER IN THE ROOM” How do we solve the circular economy challenge at the same time as providing food to a growing global population amid increasing pressure on resources and the climate? Ed Roberts, Sealed Air sustainability director for EMEA, talks to Packaging Europe’s Tim Sykes. Ed Roberts
TS: Faced by horrific facts about both climate change and the penetration of plastics to the most remote corners of the planet, how can our industry act, and how do we prioritise? ER: Studies such as The Economist’s 2017 global survey on resources are highlighting significant, present challenges with natural, physical and labour resources. Over the last 18 months there has been an unprecedented (and justified) focus on the problem of plastic in the environment. But in terms of efficient use of resources, there has been significant progress. If you look at food packaging, something with a thickness of 200 microns a couple of decades ago might be 20 microns today. Alongside this there are reductions in the footprint of transportation and refrigeration thanks to things like vacuum packs, improved cube efficiency and reduced weight. At the same time, these thinner, lighter packaging materials have significantly cut food waste over many years. Today’s drive toward materials like mono-polyethylene as a means to address the plastic waste crisis may reduce those efficiencies around food waste and energy usage. We’re faced with a really difficult trichotomy of packaging reduction and efficiency, food waste and packaging waste in the environment. | 46 | Packaging Europe
The alarming effects of climate change are visible now. Greenland alone is losing 260 billion tonnes of ice sheet every year – which is both indicative of climate change and in turn accelerating it. I see climate change as the tiger in the room. There’s a danger that we’ll turn our back on it while we deal with the important but much less critical issue of plastic waste. We must of course address both, but there’s a real risk of taking steps on plastics that are detrimental to our efforts to cut carbon emissions. To give you an illustration, just over a year ago we worked with a European retailer to move from MAP to vacuum skin pack for their chicken portions. This saved 1.9 million kg of CO2 and around 340 tonnes of combined food and packaging waste – in one product line alone. It’s arguable that the skin pack was less recyclable. However, without making that change we’d have failed to achieve these carbon savings. TS: Do you think the world is starting to take a more nuanced view after an annus horribilis for plastics? ER: There has been a certain amount of rebalancing to recognise that ‘tiger in the room’ but there is still a lot of pressure on plastics – quite rightly, but still
with the risk of unintended consequences. EPR on virgin plastic is not going away, and this will impact food prices and lower-income consumers. There’s also a consensus forming around replacing multi-layer, highly efficient barrier packaging solutions with less efficient alternatives. Societal focus is on how to solve problems using our existing model, when perhaps we should be thinking about how innovations such as chemical recycling could integrate those complex films into the circular economy. I don’t think any of the companies in this space, such as Sealed Air or Amcor or Bemis, increased the complexity of structures with crosslinking, adding PVDC, using different materials, just for the sake of it. Many years of R&D have been driven by the need to reduce weight, improve barrier functions, cut food waste and make it easier to automate – that is, addressing all of those key resource efficiency challenges. TS: How do you translate this nuanced understanding of a complex set of challenges to the concrete offerings you put before your customers? ER: Obviously, you have to avoid making generalisations about what is right and wrong. For instance, there’s an upper limit to the gains you get from extending shelf life: is there a financial or environmental benefit in doubling the shelf life of beef to 56 days? There’s no blanket answer to these questions.
Over the last decade we’ve put a lot of work into sustainability mapping to give a more complete picture of the impacts of the various packaging decisions that can be made. Within this we have identified 13 metrics – nine environmental (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions, food waste) and four social (e.g. inclusion). Our customers are asked to specify their primary, secondary and tertiary priorities from these. For instance, retailers always see food waste as highly important but rarely put water consumption at the top of their list. Major carriers will be likely to specify jet fuel and carbon emissions as high priority. TS: Is there scope beyond this to educate brand owners and retailers when they aren’t seeing the wider picture? ER: These businesses have already figured out what they need to do; it’s not my job to tell them what their goals are. We take this data and match a packaging system to what they want to achieve. However, we do try to quantify each of the 13 metrics. So as part of that mix, we point out relative positive and negative impacts and the inevitable trade-offs involved in most decisions we make. Particularly over the last couple of years we have also had lots of conversations where we remind people about the wider contexts: issues such as climate change and legislative proposals. It’s our responsibility where we have expertise to help everybody in that collaborative supply chain.
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TS: Speaking of collaboration, what is Sealed Air’s vision of how it should participate in efforts to solve the big sustainability problems? ER: Wider collaboration is of course essential. If you picture a model of the value chain, a retailer has very little contact with a resin supplier; we as converters are furthest from the waste management sector. As a start, everyone should talk to the stakeholders on either side of the supply chain (for us that’s the raw material producers and the food processors) and branch out from there. Beyond that, cross-industry collaborations are invaluable. We’re involved in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and CEFLEX. We are also working collaboratively with organisations like MRFF (on separating different polymers after waste collection) and The Chemical Recycling Alliance (on alternative recycling methods). TS: What are Sealed Air’s specific goals in sustainability, and how are they driving your R&D? ER: The Sealed Air Sustainability & Plastics Pledge commits to making products 100 per cent recyclable or reusable, with an average recycled content of 50 per cent recycled content (60 per cent of which will be postconsumer), by 2025. What we won’t do is compromise on other metrics, such as carbon emissions, in order to meet these pledges. It’s a significant challenge, complicated by lack of infrastructure. When you consider the 80 per cent of the market based on easier to recycle monopolymers, it has been estimated that meeting the objectives of the UK Plastics Pact will require building ten new recycling plants for rigid plastics alone. We have set ourselves targets that are equally stringent to other parts of the industry while working with more complex substrates. Shifting to mono PE and throwing in a bit of EVOH may not work in many of these applications, for a number of reasons. We have reorganised our R&D operations and now have just under a half working on this circular economy area using a range of approaches. The other half of our R&D team focuses on further improving the functionality of films. Obviously, the two sides speak to each other so they aren’t shooting themselves in the foot. We’re fighting a battle on two fronts – with a growing global population putting pressure on resources, and if consumers in northern Europe want to eat strawberries in December these challenges aren’t going to go away. In terms of the circular economy, our efforts are focused around four key areas. First, what the packaging is made from: post-consumer resin (which presents quality challenges, as mechanically recycled PCR deteriorates over time) or plant-based resin (which raises ethical questions around deforestation, etc.). The second area of focus is meeting external demands on packaging – reducing materials, maximising food safety, minimising food waste, functionalities such as shelf-display properties, easy opening, microwavability, etc. Thirdly, how do we make the packaging recyclable – through existing mechanical streams, or alternative technologies, including (but not limited to) chemical recycling. Finally, we also work on how to ensure packaging is disposed of in the most appropriate way. We need to simplify both the fragmented infrastructure and, in my view, the choices consumers face. Consumers should simply know they can put everything recyclable in one bin and we the industry figure out how to separate it. We also need to create markets for those recycled | 48 | Packaging Europe
materials; this can also be complicated, and there are some companies that may be cautious about using PCR at the moment because they’re uncertain about safety. TS: The challenges around sustainability go beyond innovation… ER: Yes, it’s a complex set of challenges and it’s obvious that there’s no silver bullet and you can’t leap a canyon in two bounds. However, there’s an obvious progression we need to make. We need to evolve beyond the status quo, step by step, and work with the market to shift towards new solutions. There are all sorts of things to bear in mind aside from the attributes of the pack itself. To take the example of the vacuum-packed chicken portions, making a transition like that means asking a food processor to change their equipment from MAP to vacuum, which could be a costly investment. They need to be very confident that vacuum packaging is the sustainable answer if they are going to make it – so perhaps we need to think about different business models and financing methods, such as leasing. Maybe the financial sector has a role to play too. With a new packaging system, what are the line speed and reliability implications? Another consideration is consumer perceptions. For instance, pork goes a slightly unattractive grey colour in vacuum packaging: will shoppers accept this? So, yes, there’s no silver bullet – rather we need to fire lots of little silver coloured bullets.
INNOVATION BASED ON COLLABORATION Innovation is usually perceived as being related to an additional feature on an existing product or service, or a totally new conception on a part or an industrial equipment for example.
DOP France, a specialist injection blow moulding (IBM) mold manufacturer for the cosmetic, pharmaceutical, health care and FMCG sectors focuses on innovation in terms of collaborative and interactive project management. At the heart of the European IBM cluster, Adop is working alongside the majority of IBM machine manufacturers, and notably in Europe with Meccanoplastica (Italy) and Novapax (Germany) as well as raw material suppliers and annex equipment suppliers in order to innovate on collaboration and participation from the very outset of the project and beyond the SOP, reducing customer’s ‘time to market’, and supplying fully operational turnkey solutions on all continents. Furthermore, the company works on piloting feasibility studies on IBM projects initially considered as infringing on, or exceeding the limits of blow technology (thin wall, thick wall, blow coefficients, materials, undercuts, neck designs…) while optimising production efficiency and cycle times. Adop focuses on widening the process window and reducing machine down time by means of balanced hot runner systems, conformal cooling circuits, | 50 | Packaging Europe
optimised mould design of the preform and the interaction mould/machine/ material and offers mould conception for recycled & biobased materials. ADOP reports that its approach results increased mould lifespan and minimal maintenance costs. A focus in recent years has been directed to the fabrication of moulds for thick transparent parts in PETG or in PET, innovation in IBM moulds for very thin-walled parts, innovation on automated over moulding of inserts in IBM. The injection blow mould technology is also experiencing a demand for rapid cycle times. ADOP France has recently developed a high multi-cavity high-speed mould. “Rheology analysis allows us to fully optimise the manifold/hot runner system. This means that our hot runner system is not only thermally balanced but, more importantly, it is balanced mechanically. This means that during ‘short shot-ing’ at approximately 97 per cent there is a variation between the most complete part and the least complete part of < 3 per cent,” says William Docherty from Adop France. “A uniquely conceived cooling circuit, ‘conformal cooling’, is machined to reach up to close to the cavity wall (depending on the part form we can sometimes get as close as 4mm to the cavity wall). In sum, the machining of the cooling wells behind the cavity wall is machined to the same form as the cavity wall, as opposed to a more standard circuit/well where the closest point to the cavity wall is only one tangent point. This allows us to confirm a gain in cycle times by 13 to 18 per cent, while ensuring 100 per cent perfect wall distribution”
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FOOD PACKAGING AND CHANGING DEMOGRAPHICS: PACKAGING-FREE VERSUS A RISING EXPECTATION FOR CONVENIENCE In its 2019 Global Food and Drink Trends report analysts Mintel predict that modern takes on sustainability, health and wellness, and convenience will reshape the food industry. Libby Munford takes an in-depth look at the changing demographics challenging the food packaging industry.
longside new initiatives such as packaging-free aisles (fad, or likely to become a permanent fixture?) there is an ever-present rise in ageing populations and single households globally, which brings with it demand for more single-portion packaging in order to add functionality and combat food waste. These trends on two opposing sides of the coin hint at a future that may be symbiotic in nature: minimal (or no?) packaging on one side, versus the need for packaging that is both functional and convenient. Packaging Europe | 53 |
This simplistic juxtaposition points to the diversity and flexibility of the packaging industry as a whole. We talk to key players from across the value chain to put these challenges into focus. Can these trends be symbiotic, or will the future demand one or the other?
Package-free? We are starting to see package-free trials and aisles across Europe, to address the rise in focus on sustainability. The roll-out of bagless fruit and vegetable aisles, as well as refill stations for goods such as pasta, rice, grains and cereals, is increasing among supermarkets. Ultimately, these are on a small-scale basis and we are yet to benefit from long-term results from these trials, however they are hitting mainstream media and piquing consumer interest.
“As packaging free stores display their produce in bulk, with no packaging to protect it, the risk of contamination is increased. Food manufacturers need to ensure that hygiene procedures are thorough and that products are treated with greater precautions.”
The supermarket Morrisons is encouraging shoppers to bring their own containers for meat and deli products, whilst Waitrose has launched a packagingfree trial with refill stations for certain foods at its supermarket in Oxford, UK. Stores such as Original Unverpackt in Berlin, Precycle in Brooklyn and more recently, Bulk Market in Hackney, London are encouraging consumers to bring their own tubs, jars and containers to take produce away in. Hannah Thomson, retail analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Amid growing awareness of the harmful effects of single-use plastics on the environment, retailers are keen to prove that they are acting responsibly and responding to consumers’ concerns. After initial set-up costs, retailers could benefit from selling certain goods unpackaged and removing packaging costs. Waitrose has said that its ‘Unpacked’ trial resulted in cost savings from goods arriving instore in re-usable containers.” GlobalData’s monthly survey of 2000 UK respondents found that 44.1 per cent of 16-24 year olds who had purchased food and grocery products in July had used a refill station in the last 12 months, compared with 35.0 per cent of 25-34 year-olds and just 25.4 per cent of 35-44 year-olds. Thomson says: “Encouragingly for retailers, the least-cited reason for not wishing to buy unpackaged items is a preference for branded products. This leaves retailers free to switch suppliers in search of the best margins, and should give them the confidence to use suppliers which are able to deliver in bulk instead of in packaging, and not worry about customers’ brand loyalty.” Sean Field, solutions category manager, CHEP sees a future with more food dispensers which comprise of an ‘Eco Aisle’ within existing supermarkets; more start-ups harnessing consumer preferences for ‘weigh and save’ in increasingly imaginative ways; and revisiting and refining products that were ahead of their time. Packaging Europe | 55 |
For example, refillable fabric conditioners were introduced in 2010 but were quickly abandoned due to lack of demand. “The optics are now much better for products like this and exploring others – it’s not beyond possibility that we may see milk vending machines in stores which are more sustainable and are much easier for staff than replenishing the shelves,” enthuses Sean Field. Darcy Simonis, group vice-president of ABB’s Food and Beverage network, explains what the rise in packaging free stores could mean for food manufacturers. “As packaging free stores display their produce in bulk, with no packaging to protect it, the risk of contamination is increased. Food manufacturers need to ensure that hygiene procedures are thorough and that products are treated with greater precautions to prevent contamination in the factory, before they reach shop shelves. “One way that manufacturers can ensure there is no contamination of their produce before it reaches the store is through traceability. The concept of ‘farm to fork’ means that consumers have become more inclined to buy produce if they know where it has come from and have information to prove that. Usually, product information is on product packaging and labelling, which is not possible in a package free store, so barcodes on food containers in the store could contain the traceability data for that product.”
Online groceries and meal kits A recent Packaged Facts analysis of the global market for food e-commerce from the Freedonia Group anticipates intense near-term growth – albeit from a small base – supported in part by packaging innovations that are making online grocery shopping a more attractive option for retailers and consumers alike.
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“It’s not beyond possibility that we may see milk vending machines in stores which are more sustainable and are much easier for staff than replenishing the shelves.”
The report highlights that consumers have been slower on the uptake with online grocery shopping than with e-commerce for consumer goods – such as apparel, books, and electronics – in large part because they are less willing to pay more for essentials like groceries, but also because they do not trust employees to pick out items, particularly fresh produce and meat, the same way they would, or worry that items could spoil, spill, or get damaged in transit. As e-grocers explore high-tech solutions such as delivery drones and cashierless stores to entice consumers, food and beverage brands are looking to packaging to enhance consumer convenience and confidence in the online grocery orders they ultimately receive. For example: by reducing packaging weight and right-sizing packages so they take up less space help lower shipping costs, whether to a physical store or direct to a consumer, active and intelligent packaging components such as antimicrobials, biosensors, smart labels, and gas scavengers – widely used in meal kits – can both help to preserve freshness, quality, and taste, and serve to monitor and track inventory, and advances in film technology are driving a shift from heavy, rigid materials like glass to flexible ones such as recyclable polyethylene or biodegradable polylactic acid, which can improve efficiencies while also boosting sustainability.
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Phil Brown, managing director, Fortress Technology Europe says today’s consumers are looking for high-quality meals that will fit into their fastpaced lifestyles, without having to compromise on health or flavour. As a result, convenience food, specifically meal kits, is anticipated to continue growing in popularity throughout 2019 and beyond. Convenience meal kit offerings deliver all the ingredient components required to make a fresh meal at home, without the hassle of weighing, measuring or shopping for each item individually. According to Phil Brown, in order to accurately inspect meal kits and ensure they are free from contamination, producers need to ensure their metal detection solution is sophisticated enough to cope with not only different kinds of foodstuffs simultaneously, but also different types of packaging. He explains: “Each type of food – protein, salad, vegetable, carbohydrate, etc. – has different conductive properties and therefore behaves differently in a metal detector. For example, some proteins are easier to inspect cooked than raw; and salad and vegetables will be easier to inspect than protein. The same principle applies to packaging; metallised foil is more problematic than plastic, for example. And if each item is individually wrapped before being placed into the final box, then the overall packaging will be thicker and sensitivity might be affected.” It’s clear that new trends have a knock-on effect down the supply chain, and new challenges and issues arise around the packaging of new food concepts.
Single-portion and ready-meal culture Kemira, a company with a strong focus on chemistry (adding functionality and strength to paper and board products, whilst ensuring safety and hygiene for food packaging) commissioned an international consumer survey in April 2019 to ask consumers in the US, Germany, China and Finland about food packaging. Sami Puttonen, senior manager, pulp and paper, Kemira discusses the results further. “The main trends which were highlighted were sustainability and food waste, and how packaging can play an important role in this. We believe if the packaging is not reusable, it should be recyclable and where possible made from renewable materials.” Consumers are very aware of these issues today, underlines Puttonen. He also points to the fact that single portion and ready meal culture is getting stronger. “It has been rooted in the western countries for a long time, but it is rising fast in the developing countries. This has a dramatic | 58 | Packaging Europe
effect on packaging as there are more single households than ever.” At the same time, functionality of packaging is becoming ever more important due to ageing populations.
Responsible packaging Looking ahead to the approaching new decade, shifting consumer demands will drive changes in packaging and, along with those changes, the way that manufacturers inspect packaged goods for quality and safety. According to Simon King, head of global sales, service and marketing for Eagle Product Inspection, new packaging and accompanying x-ray inspection capabilities will be designed based on what consumers seek and expect. “Consumers are already impacting changes in packaging, such as the push for more sustainable materials and packages that meet a particular need, like single-serve packages for on-the-go consumption and multi-compartment packaging for convenient ready meals. You can expect more of that in 2020 and beyond,” King says. “Inspection technologies are keeping pace with and are often in front of such market forces to help manufacturers reach their goal of providing safe, satisfying products.” Responsible packaging stands out as a trend to King: more than two-thirds or 68 per cent of consumers say it’s important for them to choose ‘responsibly packaged’ foods or beverages, according to a recent Evergreen Packaging report on packaging trends. Responsible packaging encompasses various elements of packaging, including more sustainable materials and formats, as well as products packaged in a way that ensures quality, integrity and safety for the end user. Accordingly, many companies have announced packaging changes as part of their overall drive toward responsibility and are working with or pursuing new materials and forms, including packaging made from renewable materials or recyclable materials. “X-ray systems driven by powerful software allow manufacturers to provide more information about the products and trace back packages to the point of inspection, with important production information and images. It’s not mandatory yet to have item-level traceability for food and beverage products, but with the increased complexity and demands on the supply chain, manufacturers are looking for solutions to meet these needs,” says King. It remains to be seen how consumer demands will continue to affect the packaging industry in the future, with such diverse and polarised needs to meet. However, it is clear to see that the industry as a whole can rise to the fast paced and increasingly challenging demands of the marketplace.
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OPTIMIZE TRACEABILITY CONSTRAINTS AND PRODUCTIVITY OUTPUT Date: Time: Price:
HOSTED BY PACKAGING EUROPE
10/10/2019 14:00 (GMT) London Complimentary
Laetus UP is a software platform for efficient production processes, transparent supply chains, product quality and integrity, and customer loyalty. The webinar answers the question of how Laetus UP helps industries meet the challenges of digital transformation by unifying processes and ensuring the secure interplay of all software and hardware components involved. The rapidly advancing digitalization and the production processes,
which are becoming more and more complex due to the increasing product variety and variance, place high demands on industrial production. New approaches are necessary in order to increase the overall effectiveness of the system: This webinar uses examples to explain how parallel processes can increase the efficiency of the equipment used and how central and simple access to process data and reports can shorten decision
paths. In addition, the participants will learn how Laetus UP can be used to produce not only in compliance with current regulations, but also in compliance with future regulations, without the need for time-consuming line adjustments. Another important point is the connection with higherlevel ERP/MES/SCADA systems as well as the secure and stable exchange of data.
REGISTER NOW packagingeurope.com/webinar-optimize-traceability-constraints-laetus-up/
CHRISTOPH STAUB VP Global Business Development & Strategies Laetus
MARCO POLAZZO Group Director Innovation Laetus
Laetus is the industry leader in inline quality control. Founded in 1974, the company is synonymous with successful vision inspection with solutions such as ARGUS, POLYPHEM and INSPECT. Our experience of more than 40 years plays an integral part in the development of Secure Track Trace Solutions (S-TTS) – reliable modular packaging and supply chain control solutions for the pharmaceutical, medical technology, cosmetics and FMCG industries.
DR. BERND SÄGMÜLLER Head Product Management Laetus
ELISABETH SKODA Editor Packaging Europe
Working across print, digital and live media, Packaging Europe is the leading intelligence resource for European packaging professionals. Our mission is to connect forward thinkers across the value chain with the latest developments in packaging technology and materials, making sense of innovation in the context of the core business challenges packaging is required to meet.
PLASTICS – THE INSIDER PERSPECTIVE PE: What are the key market challenges for the plastics industry today and how is it coping with them (e.g. political-macroeconomic volatility; fluctuating oil prices; and the ‘war on plastics’)? Frank Schuster: The long period of economic growth is now experiencing a slowdown, as has been predicted for many years. Overall, ENGEL is clearly feeling the effects of the slowdown and we currently see no signs of a
In anticipation of the K 2019 show, Packaging Europe asks some major players in the plastics packaging industry a few pertinent questions about the big issues the industry faces today and finds out about their sustainability drive and innovations. We speak to Haim Za’afrani, vice president of rigid packaging sales at Husky, Bertram Stern, packaging and circular economy manager at Arburg, Helmut Huber, COO Brückner Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG and Frank Schuster, vice-president at ENGEL Packaging.
short-term economic recovery. The primarily political causes make forecasting difficult. The automotive industry is hardest hit. While we are currently well on track in the packaging sector, projects here are also being postponed due to uncertainty. Among the driving forces behind growth and innovation which are facing the slowdown are digitalisation, increasing quality awareness worldwide and the establishment of a circular economy for the plastics industry. The extent to which these issues can counteract the decline is equally difficult to assess today. We are technologically very well equipped to support our cusPackaging Europe | 61 |
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through major transformation and is now focusing on eliminating plastic waste. The first step is putting the material back into the supply chain by motivating society to recycle effectively. This means creating incentives for consumers to put the packaging back by creating a convenient, simple process. The second step is utilising the collected material by incorporating more post-consumer recycled resin into packages. This will generate an end-market demand for recycling material and enable a self-sustaining circular economy. Bertram Stern: One thing is clear to us: All of us in the plastics sector – especially in the packaging sector – are confronted with the huge and perhaps single most important complex of topics faced by our industry and by society in general: circular economy and resource efficiency. One of the challenges is that plastic is often seen only in terms of being a waste product. Instead, plastic must be used sensibly and responsibly, and in the best-case scenario, it belongs in a closed recycling loop. However, a circular economy can only function properly if all elements within the value-added chain work properly. Helmut Huber: Trade conflicts, the discussion about plastic waste, as well as the difficult general global political situation makes it necessary to recognise future topics, trends and application possibilities very early. Brückner Maschinenbau established a well-functioning scouting system and additionally set up a ‘New Business Development’ department, ensuring that opportunities are assessed and appropriate line concepts and solutions are offered, thereby opening new markets.
Haim Za’afrani, vice president of rigid packaging sales at Husky
tomers in solving the new challenges. On the subject of the circular economy alone, we are presenting five exhibits at K Show with innovative technologies which clearly show that digitalisation is an important enabler for closing material cycles at very different levels. ENGEL has been dealing with this topic for a long time and was one of the first plastics machinery manufacturers to sign the New Plastics Economy global commitment of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. It networks the players, and this is precisely the prerequisite for planning the entire product life cycle through to recycling as early as the product development stage. In future, we will cooperate even more closely with the other companies along the value chain. Haim Za’afrani: The sustainability of plastic packaging has been challenged, and we can’t ignore that. The impact of plastic packaging on the environment has been emotionalised. This has triggered ambitious sustainability commitments from most of the large players, and predictably, politicians have also responded strongly with legislation. In the past, not enough focus was put on what happens to a package after its contents have been consumed. Our industry should help build bridges from consumer package back to raw material, to enable wastefree, convenient, food-safe packaging solutions. The industry has gone
PE: What effect do you expect the EU single-use plastics directive and recycling targets to have on the industry? FS: So far, the laws have had little influence on ENGEL’s business. Nevertheless, we are concerned about this development, because the new laws do not always provide more sustainability. A move away from polymer materials often results in a poorer CO2 balance, especially for packaging. Here we would like to see a more differentiated view from politicians and no further uncertainties on the part of consumers. Rather, it is necessary to provide people with better information and to increase recycling capacities. There will also be new technological challenges. For example, by 2021 caps must remain attached to the bottle, which requires new product designs. We are facing a paradigm shift. In future, costs will no longer necessarily be the most important driver. HZ: I believe the EU plastics directive will have an impact, starting with a potential consolidation of the range of plastics used for packaging, with a distinction between easy to recycle plastics like PET and plastics that are not so easily recyclable today. We foresee potentially a policy focusing on reduction or bans on difficult to recycle materials and would anticipate a shift in packaging items to more recyclable materials. The recycling and collection targets within the directive are driving innovation and investment to get more recyclate in the system, and a bigger supply of recycled PET is needed to feed demand. We already see a huge lack of supply for recycled PET. The requirement for tethered Packaging Europe | 63 |
closures is also creating panic among customers. At Husky, we are focused on developing the best solutions for tethered closures that meet legislation requirements while maintaining product safety, and using more recycled materials in packages without compromising product quality . HH: Plastic is an extremely beneficial material, but we all have to take care how to handle it in the sense of reuse – reduce – recycle. We appreciate clearly defined targets, as long as they consider all involved components. For example, besides the plastic material itself the colour systems used play an important role for recycling. In addition, environmental aspects, e.g. the CO2 footprint, energy consumption in production and hygiene should not be forced into the background. In this context political guidance could support our industry’s sustainability goals – if this guidance is long-sighted and goal-oriented.
PE: How do you view the overall technological progress towards a circular economy in plastic packaging? Could you talk about particular areas of innovation (e.g. design for recycling; monopolymer solutions; new sorting technologies; feedstock recycling) that you believe offer especially significant hope of progress?
Bertram Stern, packaging and circular economy manager at Arburg
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FS: ENGEL has defined four areas in which we, as a machine building company and system solutions provider, can already provide concrete support to plastics processors today for more sustainable production and closed material cycles. We use intelligent assistant systems to help us increase process consistency and thus create the conditions for using recycled materials in a broader spectrum, and for higher-value applications. We use innovative processing technologies to help further increase the proportion of recycled material in sandwich components as well as design for recycling, which means that we work closely with processors during product development to reduce material usage and enable the subsequent recycling of products. Furthermore, we will strengthen our consulting services in the area of upstream processes in order to optimise the processing of recycled materials for injection moulding. HZ: For PET, the future already exists. For example, our customer Ice River Springs in Ontario, Canada has been using 100 per cent recycled PET in their water bottles for years. There is a lot of innovation there. This is why we believe innovation and sustainability go hand in hand, therefore we recently merged our sustainability department with our innovation department. Collaboration is another important area. It is important for the entire value chain to work together. We are also working on design for circularity, lightweighting and incorporating PCR without compromising product quality. A new development at Husky will enable our customers to bring more than 60,000 tonnes of PET annually into the circular economy within the next 24 months. This system works in conjunction with equipment that purifies the recycled material and eliminates intermediate steps. This brings additional value to the customer in both operational savings and material quality, leading to better packages. At Husky, we also focus on key areas for corporate initiatives on our campuses, including waste diversion and carbon offsets with the goal to be carbon neutral by 2025. All of this helps contribute to a circular economy.
Helmut Huber, COO BrĂźckner Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG
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BS: In June 2019, the Arburg Packaging Summit focused on the currently discussed topic of plastics. The event – which was attended by around 120 guests from all over the world – was conceived to bring together leading experts from industry, research and professional associations, providing a platform for sharing knowledge on trends, resource efficiency and the circular economy in the packaging sector. The event demonstrated the challenges but also the new opportunities for the packaging industry. Manufacturers of injection moulding machines, moulds and materials, as well as recycling experts, must all work together along the entire value chain. At this event, it was clear for all to see that the spirit and will to do so exists. Only by working together will it be possible to develop new solutions and ensure that valuable used plastics can be recycled and efficiently re-purposed in the manufacture of new products. HH: The focus of Brückner Maschinenbau as film stretching technology supplier is on the production of single-origin structures with the highest recyclability: all raw materials originate from a common polymer group and can therefore be recycled to high-quality re-granulate. These mono-material structures from PP, PE or PET meet the highest requirements for thermic and dynamic stability and display excellent barrier properties. Thanks to their minimal thickness, they are also extremely resource-efficient.
PE: How do you make sure that your pack/packaging material is as recyclable/environmentally friendly as possible? HZ: At Husky, we are heavily involved with PET and we see ourselves as a sustainability partner. We offer a range of solutions to enable the circular economy. We are dedicated to making a positive impact by aligning the goals of sustainability with the many positive attributes of plastic packaging. Husky focuses on designing not just the best package but a package that can be easily recycled with our downstream partners and for this, cooperation is key. Our modular solutions are built on global platforms to incorporate PCR and we are always evaluating new and alternative materials, such as biobased, compostable or biodegradable resins. We also focus on energy efficient equipment and offer work cells optimized for the lowest energy consumption. A lot of education and learning still has to take place, but we have our innovation centre ready to adjust to present and future market needs and demands. BS: At Arburg we have been working for a long time on the range of topics associated with resource efficiency and circular economy because environmental protection and the gentle use of resources are deeply rooted in our corporate philosophy. Therefore we are engaging in this discussion, and not hiding from it: we have understood the problem, we have recognised its magnitude and we are contributing towards a solution with all our powers. Our strategy in terms of resource efficiency and circular economy and all of these related aspects and activities can be grouped together in our ‘arburgGREENworld’ programme, which is based on four pillars. The first three pillars
Frank Schuster, vice president at ENGEL Packaging
refer to the quotations for our customers and go by the names of ‘GREEN machine’, ‘GREEN production’ and ‘GREEN services’. The fourth pillar goes by the name of ‘GREEN environment’ and incorporates our in-house processes associated with resource efficiency and circular economy. Important topics for the three customer-specific areas are minimisation of the CO2 footprint of the machines, processing of recyclates and bioplastics, improvement in production efficiency, use of innovative processes as well as consultancy advice on all aspects of applications technology, resources and energy efficiency. With two examples, Arburg shows practical future applications using recyclates at K 2019. The production of cups demonstrates that thinwalled moulded parts of consistently high quality can be produced when processing new PP material together with recycled PP. In the second application, a PCR material derived from household waste is used to produce a durable technical product. Around 30 per cent recycled material is used in the production of PP cups. For this practical example of a closed circular economy, Arburg cooperates with Erema, which provides recycled PP. In a cycle time of around four seconds, eight cups are produced on a hybrid Allrounder 1020 H in Packaging version. Packaging Europe | 67 |
In the second circular economy application, a PCR material (post-consumer recyclate) derived from household waste is used to produce a technical product. The PCR available on the market is processed by an electrical two-component Allrounder 630 A in a Profoam foaming process, the second material is TPE. The injection-moulded part is a machine door handle whose two halves are mounted in the mould. This is followed by partial overmoulding with the soft component. HH: Our new BOPE line concept makes the production of mono-material films with superior mechanical and optical properties possible. These are excellent to sort in waste separation and are ideal to recycle. Additionally, we developed a new inline coater for the production of extremely thin functional layers. Due to the extreme thinness, the layers don’t disrupt the sorting and recycling.
PE: How does your company ‘make the case for plastics’ by highlight its benefits, for example in the area of reducing food waste? HH: We have brought our own, Brückner Group wide campaign to life in 2017, called ‘Yes, We Care’. This project is an acknowledgement to our responsibilities in the matter of plastics and sustainability. It includes the knowledge transfer for a better understanding of the needs and benefits of plastic and its correct use. Our corresponding information material (booklets, video, traveling exhibition) are in great demand. FS: We cannot and will not have a world without plastics. It is only through the use of plastics that we will be able to solve some of the great challenges of our time. This includes sustainable mobility, but also world nutrition. Intelligent packaging solutions extend the shelf life of food and prevent food from spoiling before it reaches the consumer in many countries with long transport routes and poor infrastructure. We cannot dispense with these packaging materials, which are necessary for product protection, and plastics as packaging material here are the most efficient solution in most of the cases, both in the energy and material footprint as well as in production and transport. The prerequisite is to create collection systems | 68 | Packaging Europe
and recycling possibilities for packaging. In cooperation with other companies in the plastics industry, we will therefore use our experience and know-how to ensure that people in all regions of the world will be able to handle plastics responsibly. HZ: We believe that plastic, and in particular PET, is the best packaging material available today, with its properties being optimal from a cost, weight, carbon footprint, food safety and consumer experience point of view. It contains no BPA and is 100 per cent recyclable. It also helps to prevent food waste. In summary, society needs plastic, but we do not need plastic waste. Until a few years ago, the focus was on energy, something that seems to have fallen by the wayside today. After all, PET is lighter weight than aluminium and glass. If plastic didn’t exist, and somebody invented a new packaging material that was safe, light weight, can hold up to 100 times its weight, helps combat food waste and is recyclable – wouldn’t people jump on that and think that it is great?
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Dow has announced the results of the 2019 Packaging Innovation Awards, which recognise the packaging industry’s best breakthroughs in technology, user experience and responsible packaging. Tim Sykes, who was privileged to participate in the competition’s jury for a second consecutive year, reports on the winners.
INSIDE THE WORLD’S TOP PACKAGING INNOVATIONS
he Packaging Innovation Awards occupy a special place in the global industry, thanks to thoughtful curation on the part of Dow (and previously DuPont) over many years, combined with a commitment to bring an expert jury from all over the world into a single room for three days’ intense scrutiny of every single entry. My personal experience of the rigorous judging process can be characterised by awe at the range and depth of my fellow judges’ knowledge, and admiration for the worldwide creativity reflected in the submissions (along with profound mental exhaus-
tion). Having seen first-hand how they work, I have no hesitation in asserting that the Packaging Innovation Awards should command our attention. The winners must work exceptionally hard to earn their plaudits, and the selection of finalists has an uncanny knack of painting a broader picture of how the world’s packaging landscape is evolving. The highest honour in this year’s competition, the Diamond Award, goes to a Functional Film Complex PET plastic bottle developed by Japan’s Dai Nippon Printing (DNP), which was featured in the previous edition of Packaging Europe | 71 |
Packaging Europe magazine. This alternative bottle sets out to reduce the environmental footprint in a brand-friendly way, by replicating high-end container glass. The technological advance is based on the use of a peelable, functional film over the PET bottle, which in addition to aesthetic effects adds oxygen and light barriers to the PET – a necessity in applications such as delicate rice wines. The innovation targets the many beverage bottles made from glass thanks to its barrier properties and sense of luxury, despite the heavier weight of glass and higher risk of breakage. The PET plastic bottle retains the premium qualities consumers associate with glass bottles, while creating a recyclable, lightweight and virtually unbreakable product. “We are delighted to gain international recognition for our technology,” DNP told Packaging Europe. “We are always striving to come up with innovative solutions which can contribute to our society and sustainability. Our journey for innovation will never end, and our technology creates new value that our predecessors have not achieved.”
E-commerce The Packaging Innovation Awards tend to have a sensitive radar to the trends driving the market, and this year, inevitably, saw recognition of some outstanding solutions aimed at optimising efficiency and sustainability within the directto-consumer model that is transforming consumption of packaged goods. Among the Diamond Finalists are Henkel’s EPIX™ Technology for Sustainable Packaging: a paper-based, curbside-recyclable package that optimises weight, | 72 | Packaging Europe
size and impact resistance for shipping. The innovation reduces processing costs and features an innovative lightweight cushioning material. EPIX™ Technology facilitates recyclability of paper packages and is part of Henkel’s strategy for a circular economy. “The demand for more sustainable alternatives necessitated development of technologies that enhanced paper product functionality,” said Scott Farber, head of Global Paper Solutions Strategy. “As a result, Henkel has embarked on a programme to create functional, sustainable solutions for paper, including thermal resistance, impact resistance and barrier properties. The key technological advance involves functionalities that are easily separated from the paper during the repulping process, providing for the recovery and reuse of the fibre, and aligning with Henkel’s comprehensive commitment to a circular economy for plastic and sustainable packaging.” Another Diamond Finalist is the widely lauded Eco-Box introduced by P&G’s Tide brand. This landmark innovation reimagined Tide’s 50 year-old detergent packaging specifically for shipping directly to consumers’ doorsteps. The Eco-Box is 60 per cent less plastic than the equivalent bottle (150 oz) and contains an ultra-concentrated formula. On top of having less packaging, Eco-Box doesn’t require any secondary re-boxing or bubble wrap. The Eco-Box also enhances consumer experience with a no-drip tap that is easier to use and less messy than other liquid packaging. If Tide requires little introduction, fellow Diamond Finalist Truman’s is a relatively small brand. The Truman’s Starter Kit provides an alternative to single-use plastic bottles for household cleaners by introducing a con-
centrate and cartridge system that enables repeated reuse of the primary bottle with tap water. Each cartridge is fully recyclable and uses up to 96 per cent less plastic than a typical cleaning product. “We started Truman’s because nobody needs a gazillion cleaning products with harsh chemicals cluttering their cabinets, and our planet certainly doesn’t need the plastic empties,” Truman’s co-founder Alex Reed told Packaging Europe. “That’s why we offer just four cleaners with refill cartridges that safely and effectively clean virtually all of your home’s hard surfaces. Truman’s is a new take on cleaning concentrates. Businesses have used them for decades, but they never made inroads with American consumers because of the inconvenience and confusion that came with mixing. So we designed a business around concentrate cartridges and an auto-dispensing mechanism to ensure there’s never any mixing or mess.”
Reaching for sustainable alternatives To be considered as a Diamond Finalist, a submission had to exhibit some significant environmental contribution, and for many entries sustainability was central to the innovation. Paperly™, developed by Amcor (formerly Bemis), is a thermoformable paper-based packaging that gives processed meat and cheese packaging a rustic feel and look, and is designed to stand out on the supermarket shelf. With a paper tray made from renewable resources, Paperly™ is aimed at environmentally conscious consumers who prefer products with a more natural feel and recyclable packaging. Made from 85 per cent FSC-certified paper fibres, the whole base tray can be recycled where paper recycling streams are available. The technological advance behind this Diamond Finalist’s innovation was the use of a thermoformable paper in combination with the right sealant and
Amcor’s value-added top webs, such as EZ Peel, Reclose or SkinTite™. EZ Peel ensures that packaging for processed meats and sliced cheese is hermetically sealed and always easy to open, while the reclose technology allows the consumer to easily reclose the package thereby prolonging the product’s freshness for future servings and minimising waste. The SkinTite™ second skin top-web can be combined with Paperly™, and guarantees unrivalled product presentation, increased shelf life and flavour enhancement. Furthermore, there is the option to use a Paper-Like™ print effect on the top web. Paper-Like™ is a visual and tactile lacquer that can be applied to the top web, giving it a paper-like look and feel for a cohesive pack design. “Compared to traditional MAP packaging, this innovation is more sustainable,” commented Amcor. “The paper in the tray is from renewable resources and originate from FSC managed forests. The entire pack contains up to 65 per cent less plastic and it has 75 per cent lower carbon footprint compared to a standard mono APET 200 base tray.” Meanwhile, L’Oréal and ProAmpac reimagined the REDKEN® Flash Lift Bonder Inside to minimise material use and packaging SKUs required, while maximising functionality in a demanding haircare niche. It transitioned from rigid packaging to incorporate its built-in bonder with an emphasis on a circular economy. Instead of having a multi-step process that included at least three different rigids, the newly designed spouted pouch combines two containers into one. A new spouted flexible pouch only requires a developer to complete the application process, giving users a portable, useful alternative to multiple rigid containers. A unique curved spout prevents powder fumes and guides product into the easy-open lid that doubles as a measuring cup for added convenience. “The final design was chosen based on rapid prototyping of spouts and caps adhered to pouch prototypes made by ProAmpac’s DASL (Design and Packaging Europe | 75 |
“The Packaging Innovation Awards should command our attention. The winners must work exceptionally hard to earn their plaudits, and the selection of finalists has an uncanny knack of painting a broader picture of how the world’s packaging landscape is evolving.” Sample Lab),” revealed Sal Pellingra, ProAmpac’s VP Global Application and Innovation Development. “Ideation sessions with a cross-sectional team from L’Oréal, ProAmpac and the injection moulder partner, Technimark, were held to review pouring and mixing with six to eight different potential designs until the final was chosen with consumer and brand input. From this the pouch design, the pour spout and cap design were finalised and the mould produced. Looking back, the ability of rapid product prototyping, collaborating with the right partners from the start and being able to move with agility to meet the market launch timeline was key. In addition, a packaging machine supplier and co-manufacturer were also involved to launch the project. It was a great example of collaboration.” Another Diamond Finalist that should be familiar to Packaging Europe readers is the 100 per cent polyethylene Frosch pouch developed by Werner & Mertz together with Mondi to replace its previous multi-material flexible packaging for various products. The new mono-material PE film was developed to be completely recyclable by eliminating barriers (like EVOH) and adhesives that can prevent recyclability. The package’s decoration is printed on a PE-film.
No additional materials are disturbing the near infrared (NIR) detection during sorting. Moreover, refilling an existing Frosch-bottle by using this pouch saves up to 70 per cent material. “The key technology advance of the innovation is that we went over the hurdles of existing standards,” Immo Sander, head of packaging development at Werner & Mertz GmbH, commented. “To leave the beaten tracks of these standards was risky and involved huge investments on both sides. Furthermore, part of our collaborative strategy was to involve all experts along the supply chain: experts in waste management (sorting & recycling), Cradle-toCradle specialists, material and pouch manufacturing experts. Based on that knowledge platform we could realise that innovation. “In terms of functionality of that stand-up pouch system the target was to create a substitute that will have no impact on consumer behaviour and convenience. Concerning sustainability and recyclability this pouch has a considerable impact and can be seen as a new standard for stand-up pouches for the FMCG industry. In general, fully recyclable mono-material packaging will be the origin for the future recyclate. Packaging materials that were designed under design4recycling aspects are the necessary foundation for high quality plastic recyclate in large quantities.”
Assisting nutrition The last two Diamond Finalists take contrasting approaches to extending nutrition to those who need it. Embrapa Food Technology, the National Institute of Technology and Macromolecular Institute of Federal University of Rio de Janeiro developed packaging for fruits that makes the most of refrigeration to reduce food waste. The two-part container is rigid, but it’s also closable over a PET-type plastic where the fruits are packaged. This elegantly simple Brazilian innovation maintains fruit quality longer, with the result of significantly reducing post-harvest losses to less than five per cent and decreasing energy use in the lower cold chain of the supply chain. Meanwhile, Danone Nutricia Research designed and developed the OpTri bottle for tube feeding products that are prescribed to patients who | 76 | Packaging Europe
cannot eat or swallow independently and need to be fed via a tube. The feed is released in a closed system, simply by gravity forcing the bottle to collapse. The closed system reduces the risk of air or environmental contamination and therefore increases safety for the patients. The ergonomic shape of the bottle, integrated big-eyed hook and easy to navigate label, ensure time saving for health care professionals, while a non-detachable flip-top cap requires less handling. Using reclaimable and recyclable material, the OpTri bottle uses 85 per cent less water than the existing pouch production process and brings a 21
per cent reduction in carbon emissions. Waste plastic from the bottle production process is reused and re-integrated into the manufacturing process. The 2019 Packaging Innovation Awards hosted by Dow, previously known as the DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation, is now in its 31st year, and is the industry’s longest-running independently judged packaging awards program. The judges evaluated nearly 250 entries from companies in more than 30 countries. In addition to the Diamond Award, the judges also selected eight Diamond Finalists, 10 Gold Award Winners, 12 Silver Award Winners and two Honourable Mention categories.
Silver Award Winners
• Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd., DNP Functional Film Complex PET Plastic Bottle
• Amcor, Full Moon Perdue Natural Look Pet Treat Pouch • Hangzhou Holmes Food Co., Ltd., Baicaowei ‘Fresh Lock’ Packaging • Weener Plastics, 100% PCR Dish Soap Cap • Hangzhou Qunle Packaging Co., Ltd., The ‘Fortune Stick’ Pet Snack Packaging • KW Container, TruSnap™ with TwistCap Paint Container • Incom Packing, SPOT • Blue Apron, Sustainable Gel Packs • Huhtamaki PPL Ltd., Barrier and Drop Resistant Bulk Bag • ITC Limited, Packaging Business, “Breathable Wheat Flour Pack” with Air Release Control • Procter & Gamble / Gillette, Joy Razor • Schur Star Systems, Schur®Star Zip-Pop Packing • Unilever, Love Beauty and Planet
Diamond Finalists • Embrapa Food Technology, Development of Innovative Packaging for Fruits • Procter & Gamble, Tide Eco-Box • Henkel, EPIX™ Technology for Sustainable Packaging • Danone Nutricia Research, OpTri, a Collapsible Bottle for Tube Feeding Nutrition • Amcor, Paperly™ Thermoformable Paper-Based Packaging • Werner & Mertz GmbH and Mondi Group, Sustainable, 100% Recyclable Frosch Pouch Made of Polyethylene • ProAmpac and L’Oréal Paris, REDKEN® Flash Lift Bonder Inside • Truman’s, Truman’s Starter Kit
Gold Award Winners • Kawakami Sangyo Co., Ltd., UKIYO-E PUTIPUTI • Meiji Co., Ltd., meiji THE Chocolate 6COLLECTIONS Assorted Package • Duallok, An Elegant Child-Resistant Packaging Solution • Amcor, 46 oz. Coffeemate® natural bliss® Cold Brew with Amcor Geo-Strap™ Base • ALICO S.A., ReciPack • C.I. TAKIRON Corporation, SANZIP Sensory Zipper • Amcor, Molson Coors – 12 Pack Cooler Bag • Reckitt Benckiser, Finish 0% • DuPont Teijin Films, LuxCR™ Depolymerization Process • Huhtamaki PPL Ltd., Bag-in-Bag for Extreme Drop Resistance
Collaboration Honourable Mention • Werner & Mertz GmbH and Mondi Group, Sustainable, 100% Recyclable Frosch Pouch Made of Polyethylene
e-Commerce Honourable Mention • PAC Worldwide, Scent Blocking Protective Mailer • Smart Karton, All-Paper Pack • Procter & Gamble (China) Sales Co., Ltd., E-commerce Packaging • Procter & Gamble, Tide Eco-Box • Henkel, EPIX™ Technology for Sustainable Packaging • Truman’s, Truman’s Starter Kit
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THE IMPORTANCE OF QUALITY AND FLEXIBILITY IN GLASS FILLING
The market for glass bottles is estimated to continually thrive over the next few years. This especially holds true for the beer market but also for other categories, such as water, juices and carbonated soft drinks (CSD). To keep abreast of this development and adapt to the ever more rapidly changing market and product trends, manufacturers expect new fillers, which offer high production flexibility, while at the same time guaranteeing maximum quality for their premium products. These needs can be met with Sidel’s EvoFILL Glass.
lass bottles, with their high premium look and feel, call for a filling process that ensures matching qualities for both: the product inside and the packaging on the outside. “EvoFILL Glass marks the latest milestone in Sidel’s filling portfolio. Product quality and an advanced level of versatility are more and more driving the development of our innovations. Our new solution is flexible, hygienic and sustainable, helping manufacturers to get ready for the upcoming challenges in premium drinks production,” declares Stefano Baini, Product Manager Filling at Sidel.
Top hygiene and precision: the keys to quality EvoFILL Glass stands out with a number of features which guarantee high performance in the bottling process, as Mr Baini explains. “First, the filling level is controlled by level probes, ensuring very high accuracy and flexibility. Also, low foaming is secured by using swirling in the product deflection into the bottle for production efficiency.” The solution’s highly hygienic design includes the “no base” architecture, the new drive system with servomotors, and – especially – its external beverage tank with the integrated small product chamber. Overall, these features ensure easy operations during production and maintenance, simultaneously helping manufacturers deliver the highest quality products to their consumers.
Maximum uptime through flexibility EvoFILL Glass is able to hold the dissolved oxygen pick-up down to 10 ppb and to process a wide range of filling levels with no need for probe adjustments for enhanced uptime and top product quality. With 48 to 192 valves on the filling carousel, manufacturers can handle a broad range of
speeds – from 25,000 to over 80,000 bottles per hour for 330 ml beer bottles – and bottle sizes from 200ml up to 1 L. “Very fast changeover times for different bottle diameters are made possible due to the re-designed handling parts, which are now lighter and smaller. With 98.5 per cent efficiency and the possibility to manage an extensive spectrum of drink types and filling temperatures, EvoFILL Glass delivers an exceptional level of productivity,” Mr Baini adds.
Crowning performance The ultra-clean crowner manufactured by Sidel, with its open design and off-set crowning ring, adds further performance to the bottling process. The stainless-steel construction with its dedicated nozzles for the washing of the crimping area underlines the strict focus on optimal hygiene and product safety. The solution offers an upgraded washing system with three areas for maximum safety in case of bottle burst. Sidel EvoFILL Glass is complemented by the Gebo OptiFEED® crown feeder, delivering quality and compliant crowns in a compact space. This is achieved via its integrated vision device, allowing unsuitable crowns to be spotted and seamlessly ejected, without stopping the flow. “Whilst developing the OptiFeed solution, sustainability was high on the agenda of our design team, resulting in removing the need for air and thereby eliminating the risk of contamination that can occur during operation. Instead, mechanical discharge moves the crowns, keeping electrical power consumption to under 1kW. This creates a very smooth handling process and again improves hygiene, while reducing the environmental impact,” Mr Baini concludes. Find out more about Sidel’s EvoFILL Glass here: sidel.com/evofillglass. Packaging Europe | 79 |
ON SECOND THOUGHTS... Tom Szaky
PRACTICAL RECYCLABILITY IS THE ONLY VERSION OF RECYCLABILITY Tom Szaky is the founder and CEO of TerraCycle, a global leader in collecting and repurposing hardto-recycle waste. The company also has played a big part in developing Loop™ – an innovative, online shopping concept challenging our reliance on single use packaging. In this column, Tom looks below the surface of recyclability claims and highlights the gap between technical recyclability and practical recyclability.
the past 24 months, people have come to realise the scope and severity of the global waste crisis, be it from documentaries such as David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II or a striking image of a turtle with a plastic straw in its nose circulating on social media. In response, governments have started passing laws banning single-use items and mandating producer responsibility, and consumers are demanding change. As a result, many product manufacturers have publicly announced commitments to incorporate significantly more post-consumer recycled (‘PCR’) content in their products, as well as the bold claim that all of their packaging will be recyclable. All this by 2025 – only five years away. Communicating the vision is the easy part, executing a whole different matter. UK nonprofit WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) reports two-thirds of the Plastics Pact (127 companies representing a majority of all packaging produced globally) have shown no progress on the 2017 pledge to offset their contributions to plastic pollution. As one peels below the surface of commitments around recyclability, it becomes clear most signatories are promising technical recyclability and not practical recyclability. The former represents the ability for a package to be technically recycled without factoring in real world economics, including the question of whether the processing cost will be higher than its recovered value. Inversely, practical recyclability is the ability for a consumer to place that package in their recycling bin and have it actually recycled. This is dependent on not just the technical capacity to recycle a waste stream, but also a profitable and stable business model behind it. Those familiar with TerraCycle know we believe everything is technically recyclable, having proven items such as cigarettes, chewing gum,
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and even dirty diapers can be repurposed into material for new products. But those items are not accepted through conventional curbside programs and are thereby not practically recyclable outside specialty systems like ours. Noting here our systems rely on the financial support of brands, retailers, cities, and other organisations to function, the value of the recovered material is not enough to offset the logistics and processing costs of these waste streams in and of itself. Thus, it is imperative the clear distinction is made between technical and practical recyclability to avoid confusion, maintain transparency, and continue effective work towards measurable targets for materials recovery and waste reduction. Claiming 100 per cent recyclability for an item that will only be recycled if the consumer must go out of their way to access a solution is a mismatch, as consumers only understand practical recyclability, not technical. Practical recyclability should be the only way we use the word recyclable. Everything else is confusing and misleading to consumers and even law makers, who are not waste management experts. Producers need to either focus on moving into reusable or recyclable packages with value to recyclers and produce highly separated material with a strong end-market, or pay the cost to collect and process them. Technical upgrades are not a silver bullet, but a fantastic start to better resource management. Providing individuals the choice of products they can actively keep in the materials economy requires clear and practical definitions. To that end, organisations that endorse recyclability, such as governments and industry coalitions, should demand proof that recycling is actually happening, in practice and in scale.
TWO DAYS OF INDISPENSABLE DISCUSSION IN THE EUROPEAN GREEN CAPITAL 2020 Weâ€™re bringing the value chain together for an interactive forum to examine new opportunities and explore how we can connect the dots. Join us for the Sustainable Packaging Summit, featuring the Sustainability Awards 2020. October 2020 Lisbon
Our mission at Packaging Europe is to provide indispensable intelligence on packaging innovation to people looking to solve business problem...
Published on Oct 4, 2019
Our mission at Packaging Europe is to provide indispensable intelligence on packaging innovation to people looking to solve business problem...