Packaging Europe Issue 16.4

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VOLUME 16.4 – 2021

HOW TO SOLVE THE MATERIALS PUZZLE

MONDI ON WHY COLLABORATION IS KEY TO DEVELOPING INNOVATIVE SUSTAINABLE PACKAGING E-COMMERCE • ANTI-COUNTERFEITING • HOME DELIVERY • TACKLING OCEAN PLASTIC LEAKAGE



Editor

Operations Director

Victoria Hattersley

Amber Dawson

Journalists

Brand Director

Elisabeth Skoda Libby Munford

Tim Sykes

Digital Editor

Jesse Roberts

Fin Slater

Sales Director

Production Manager

Senior Portfolio Sales Manager

Rob Czerwinski

Dominic Kurkowski

Advertising Coordinator Portfolio Kayleigh Harvey Sales Manager Administrative Assistant

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Matt Byron

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Megan Cotterill

Digital Analyst Syed Hassan

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Packaging Europe Ltd Part of the Rapid News Communications Group 9 Norwich Business Park, Whiting Road, Norwich, Norfolk, NR4 6DJ, UK Registered Office: Carlton House, Sandpiper Way, Chester Business Park, Chester, CH4 9QE. Company No: 10531302. Registered in England. VAT Registration No. GB 265 4148 96 Telephone: +44 (0)1603 885000 Editorial: editor@packagingeurope.com Studio: production@packagingeurope.com Advertising: jr@packagingeurope.com Website: packagingeurope.com Twitter: twitter.com/PackagingEurope LinkedIn: uk.linkedin.com/company/packaging-europe YouTube: youtube.com/PackagingEurope © Packaging Europe Ltd 2021 No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form for any purpose, other than short sections for the purpose of review, without prior consent of the publisher. ISSN 2516-0133 (Print) ISSN 02516-0141 (Online)

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Editorial Victoria Hattersley Mondi cover story How to solve the materials puzzle E-commerce Primary packaging innovation for e-commerce Pharma anti-counterfeiting What does the e-commerce boom mean for pharma supply chain security? Home delivery How drones are reshaping home delivery CEFLEX Collection – the foundation for flexible packaging’s circular economy Podcast transcript Project STOP – tackling ocean plastic leakage The Wider View Rovema: Tackling the multi-material and sustainability challenges Borealis The road towards fully circular polyolefins On second thoughts... When reusable packaging is not the right choice…



EDITORIAL |

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this month’s edition we’re inviting you to consider the process of selecting the packaging material with the best overall impact on sustainability. We have always emphasized the complexity of the sustainability landscape and the need to approach it in a holistic manner – and over the page our cover feature by Mondi expands on this idea by looking at how the entire packaging supply chain must work together to mitigate its environmental impact. But before that we’d like to actively involve you in a real-life sustainable packaging specification project. At Packaging Europe we’re committed to advancing the sustainability of packaged goods, and we recognize that this has to include thinking about the environmental footprint of this very magazine. As such, we’ve been exploring the available options for mailing the magazine to our readers all over Europe. We’ve considered feasibility and impacts on end-of-life outcomes, resource efficiency and cost. We’ve eliminated some products (such as oxo-degradable film) on the basis that they would provide a worse environmental outcome than the current LDPE wrapping, and we’ve settled on three available options, plus one alternative that would require some added innovation. These are: the current polyethylene film, compostable film, a paper envelope, or a packaging-free option. Now we’d like your feedback. Please take a moment to click on our survey at packagingeurope.com/magwrap, or use the QR code on this page, read through our assessment of the implications of the respective options, and let us know which one you – from both a professional and consumer point of view – would like us to select. We’ll let you know the response we have and the next steps in this project. But now, more on this month’s edition which you will notice has something of an ‘e-commerce’

Victoria Hattersley Senior Writer

flavour. First, Elisabeth Skoda casts an eye over some of the most noteworthy recent developments in primary packaging geared towards e-commerce. Meanwhile Fin Slater interviews drone delivery company Wing about how drones are slowly but surely stealing a march on the home delivery landscape. And last, but arguably not least, I have been exploring the implications for the boom in online ordering when it comes to pharmaceutical supply chain security. Other highlights include the next in an ongoing series of exclusive articles from CEFLEX – this time discussing the importance of more efficient collection systems to ensure a circular economy in flexibles. For our regular On Second Thoughts… column we welcome back Jocelyne Ehret of TheRightPackaging, who explains why reusable packaging is not always the most sustainable option. Incidentally, this last topic was explored in more depth by Jocelyne and fellow panellists Tracy Sutton and Catherine Rouanet in a recent live discussion as part of our Sustainable Packaging Summit. I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you that you can sign up free to view this, or any of our other Summit broadcasts that pique your interest, at PackagingSummit.earth/join. I hope you all enjoy what remains of the summer and we look forward to seeing at least some of you at FachPack in September. n

Victoria Hattersley Victoria Hattersley vh@packagingeurope.com @PackEuropeVicky

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HOW TO SOLVE THE MATERIALS PUZZLE The challenge of providing packaging that balances resource efficiency with the lowest possible environmental impact is one that every member of the packaging industry is familiar with. There is no ‘perfect’ solution, but Mondi looks at some of the strategies the industry could be employing to help turn the tide of climate change.

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ast month’s alarming IPCC global climate change report – the first since 2013 – found that human activity is damaging the climate ‘irreversibly’. We don’t need to look further than the recent devastating fires and floods across the globe to know that action needs to be taken now to address climate change and the importance of innovating for a circular economy. So what can we do in the packaging sector to ensure we play our role to mitigate the environmental impact of packaging? Broadly, the value chain from manufacturers, to brand owners, and converters need to innovate and collaborate. Only then can we find the right answers and approach. It’s complicated, though. Mondi, a global leading packaging and paper company, shares its vision of sophisticated packaging strategies for a complex world.

Packaging isn’t perfect, but it serves an essential purpose While we are all keen to provide the most sustainable packaging solutions, the resources used to produce and protect goods during transport are also a factor. In this very magazine, Packaging Europe addresses the issue of its own deliveries. According to the Packaging Europe team, its readers occasionally question the fact that this magazine is delivered in a plastic bag that isn’t recyclable everywhere it is sent. The issue is that there isn’t one alternative that satisfies every criterion better than the others: what’s best for | 6 | Packaging Europe


weight and resource efficiency may not be the best for preventing damage or avoiding packaging waste, and vice-versa. It’s a work in progress – and now the subject of a dialogue between a brand and its audience. This is the case for all manufacturers and packaging producers. How do we provide packaging that protects the product alongside having the lowest environmental impact?

Take a more holistic approach Approaching packaging strategies and specifications in a nuanced and objective way that goes beyond what is the latest trend consumers are asking for requires taking a step back. Developing packaging that is sustainable by design means focusing on the purpose while optimizing the material, and even changing it completely if necessary. How companies identify these opportunities and work together along the value chain needs to be reconsidered. As innovations in paper, plastic, and hybrid solutions continue to develop, so does imagining new possibilities for paper and plastic applications. To get to that perfect solution, we need to question everything. This means looking at all the solutions, production processes, materials, and specifications needed to protect the product. Mondi is leading the way, reimagining how paper and plastic can be a part of the solution.

Mondi’s Advantage StretchWrap shows what’s possible An example of this is Advantage StretchWrap, a paper Mondi developed to stretch and resist punctures. First created to wrap around mattresses, Mondi realized the paper could be even thinner, which led the team to investigate what else it could be used for. They were able to envisage wrapping heavy pallets for transportation. Further R&D and the backwards integration in paper production meant that vision became a reality, and within two years of development, the paper could replace the current plastic industry standard for pallet wrapping and has the potential to replace a significant amount of plastic for specific applications. The solution uses responsibly sourced natural fibres and is recyclable. This demonstrates that by applying expertise and investing in development, in many cases, paper can do the job just as well as plastic. “If it takes time, research, and development to get there, then so be it, as we know our customers want more fit-for-purpose packaging that is sustainable by design,” says Thomas Kahl, EcoSolutions Manager at Mondi. New

technological advancements mean paper and corrugated are delivering in areas where just a few years ago, the standard was lower. This approach aims to provide the most sustainable packaging solution, but recognizes that the material used in that packaging is, ultimately, secondary to its purpose. Advantage StretchWrap is something that had not even been imagined to be possible in the past. With this solution and others, producers need to take into account the whole life cycle of the packaging and ask the following questions. Does the end user know how to dispose of the packaging correctly? Is a sorting and recycling scheme available in that country? Is more paper used to pack something than plastic and is more energy (and therefore emissions) needed to produce it? Asking all these questions is part of Mondi’s EcoSolutions approach, which involves working closely with its customers to examine everything about their packaging needs and product requirements from the outset – the contents, the logistics, the end user, the existing lines, the shelf life, and even the communication to the consumer. The starting point is function, followed by sustainability goals, geographical regions, supply chains and legislation, then the available recycling infrastructure. Mondi believes that these are all relevant when it comes to identifying and developing the ‘most sustainable’ packaging solution. “Only by working collaboratively with our customers in this way can we objectively look for the best possible result,” adds Kahl. One EcoSolutions success that Mondi has delivered was in collaboration with the retailer Tesco, where they managed to close the loop for Tesco’s shopping bags. Working together along the supply chain, Mondi now collects Tesco’s Central European corrugated waste and recycles it to produce the shopping bags that customers can buy in store. Mondi was able to identify how they could collect the waste, and recycle it for their EcoVantage paper grade, which is strong enough to carry groceries while also using recycled fibres. This required Tesco and Mondi to rethink their supply chains and be willing to try something new in order to come up with a truly circular solution. Questioning all aspects, from the materials to the supply chain, will ultimately lead to the most sustainable option – which can take time. Kahl points out that, “By first ensuring that products are packaged according to their needs, and not the material, we can rethink how different products can be packaged. It should not be a box-ticking, quick-fix approach. With Advantage StretchWrap and closing the loop with Tesco, both solutions took us two years of parallel Packaging Europe | 7 |


research and development in order to make them possible. Good solutions take time, and we need more of them across the board if we are collectively going to become sustainable as an industry.”

One material cannot always replace another Mondi believes that paper should always be the first option as a replacement to plastic: it is lightweight compared to other alternative materials like glass or metal, renewable, easily recyclable, and compostable. While some products can be replaced by fibre alternatives – food trays for cheese, for example, which can save up to 70% of the material needed – it is also clear that sometimes only plastic will do, with its distinct advantages and functionality. That includes packaging to keep medical equipment sterile, and to keep food fresh. One example is Mondi’s new recyclable packaging for Bell Germany’s ‘Abraham’ thinly sliced deli meat range that requires 37% less material and saves 35 tonnes of plastic per year. Created after two years of development, Mondi’s WalletPack operates as a folder, features a re-close function on the backside to prevent food spoilage, and the German institute cyclos-HTP has certified it as 93% recyclable. Sustainable solutions like this show that there is always a place to consider the choice between paper and plastic.

The value of life cycle assessments Given the complexities of material choice, Mondi advocates taking an empirical, data driven route. Research, test, and test again. Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) are effective and Mondi’s Advantage StretchWrap has been undergoing its assessments, the outcomes of which will go into future developments or changes to its production. Mondi also sees peer reviews as essential, as they help deliver reliable, objective, and trustworthy data. They remove unconscious bias and bring fresh eyes to the whole process – often raising new questions by focusing on the statistics, rather than the opinions or trends around a product and its uses. They are critical tools to remain objective and focus on the true benefits of each material, instead of relying on emotions, which invariably could come into play when a product has taken years to develop. However, LCAs do not take into account the whole picture: many do not consider end-of-life impacts of the materials being used. There, we have to look to the benefits of different materials during their end-of-life. These facts can show that solutions, which may seem unsustainable, actually are less harmful to the environment. Then, at this stage, it’s important to educate the consumer about the facts.

Premium appearances and sustainable foundations Let’s now go to what the consumer thinks. From a consumer perspective, brown paper often appears to be kinder to the environment, but there are solutions | 8 | Packaging Europe

that provide consumer brands with sustainable white alternatives so as not to compromise on their premium look and feel. This is where having the facts can win over emotions. Mondi questioned how a white containerboard grade could become more sustainable and developed ProVantage Smartwhite. The outcome was an innovative solution with a recycled fibre bottom layer, which is suitable for drink, certain food, and retail applications, as well e-commerce. Crafted with a fresh fibre top layer for a superior appearance, it makes an excellent option for printing among uncoated containerboard grades. This development required a team effort in order to develop and communicate a sustainable solution that is not only attractive to brand owners but also innovative in its proposition. As Kahl says: “We are not on this journey alone, but it’s a collective effort. We need to take a lot of options into consideration including; how would the packaging work when it is being filled on our customers’ lines, how will we trial the material on our customers’ machines, will the packaging protect the product? Will it do a good job providing information and instructions? We also need to evaluate how easy it is to dispose of the packaging product and if the infrastructure exists to make this possible. What we can say is that everyone has their role to play to make sure that solutions are truly circular and sustainable.” Collectively, packaging needs to meet many requirements. It has to be innovative, fit-for-purpose, recyclable and/ or biodegradable, printable, generic, bespoke, affordable, sustainable, comfortable and practical, preserving the valuable resources and reducing CO2 emissions. This is quite a list and illustrates the need for us all to continue to communicate, share best practices and develop sustainable solutions that do not over-package a product. By adopting a pragmatic, objective approach, with a real focus on innovation, we can all ensure that products are packaged according to their needs, while being confident that we are aiming for solutions that are n sustainable by design.


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PRIMARY PACKAGING INNOVATION FOR E-COMMERCE

Elisabeth Skoda looks at just a small selection of notable developments of primary packaging geared towards e-commerce.

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-commerce was on a strong growth trajectory even before the pandemic struck, but of course has been given an extra boost as more and more people turned to shop online while they avoided mixing with others in brick and mortar shops. In the context of this development, more companies are developing packaging solutions specifically geared towards e-commerce applications as the market expands further.

Wine that fits through the letterbox One of the companies that have centred their business model around e-commerce packaging is Garçon Wines. Its reimagination of the traditional glass wine bottle into a flat bottle that fits through a standard letterbox and is made from 100% recycled PET is custom-made for e-commerce. The company has come a long way since its beginnings in 2017. “When we first introduced the concept, we only had a handful of prototype bottles, but the interest it generated made us realize we had the opportunity to create a scalable packaging solution for the wine industry,” explains the

company’s CEO, Santiago Navarro. “Traditional wine bottles come from an era when products were moved by horses. We need packaging for an era that uses electric vehicles, and recycled PET fit the bill.” Shipping beverages is notoriously tricky, and there is an ever-present risk of leaks and damage. Wine itself comes with its unique set of challenges, but there are reasons why it can work particularly well in an e-commerce context, says Mr Navarro. “Wine is a truly global product that comes with an extremely complex supply chain with many steps between the winery and the dining table. Due to the big choice in the wine market, it naturally is a product that can work well in an e-commerce setting. Our bottle is lightweight, spatially efficient due to its design, and shatter-proof, while respecting the heritage and tradition of wine by looking like a wine bottle. It is low on energy and recyclable.” Garçon Wines is now planning to expand its model to other drinks. “We recently secured a major investment in our parent company Delivering Happiness Limited, and we will launch a dedicated, multinational cleantech packaging business arm for wine and other drinks, which will operate alongside their sustainable wine wholesale business,” adds Mr Navarro.

Laundry tablets through the letterbox Moving away from wine for a while, another company that centres its business model around letterbox delivery is smol, a UK-based start-up that delivers cleaning supplies such as laundry and dishwasher tablets directly to customers’ doors, cutting out the middle-man. “We wanted to radically improve different aspects of the products and packaging for cleaning supplies, but also design a business whereby we could sell direct to our customers and nurture an ongoing relationship,” explains Matt Gandy, creative director at smol. smol’s laundry and dishwasher tablets have been designed to be posted through the letterbox, and the product is formulated to be concentrated, | 10 | Packaging Europe


which means that less packaging is used per capsule. This e-commerce friendly design comes with other sustainability benefits, says Mr Gandy. “We believe our packaging is the first 100% plastic-free packaging for laundry capsules and dishwasher tablets, made from FSC approved cardboard. We try to make sure that all our packaging is 100% recyclable and compostable / biodegradable where possible. On top of that, we save our customers driving to the supermarket. Studies show delivery of goods gives a reduced carbon footprint compared to a conventional shopping trip, producing 4.093kg less CO2 on average per delivery.”

Direct-to-consumer boom Mr Gandy has observed a growth in direct-to-consumer brands, driven by convenience and value, and by the fact the model can suit smaller brands who don’t want or need to rely on the supermarket as their route to the customer. “The public are increasingly supportive of independent brands and trust them to deliver on quality and sustainability. The pandemic has certainly accelerated both these trends, and we’re certain that this channel will continue to grow. At smol we are focused on how we can help consumers shift to more eco-friendly products. We’ve expanded already into refillable surface sprays and animal fat-free fabric conditioner, and we have plans for more new products and new markets across Europe.”

Bag-in-box and frustration-free packaging E-tailers have strict requirements for what packaging is acceptable to be used through their channels, and liquids such as wine can prove particularly tricky. Standardization can facilitate the process. A big step forward was Smurfit Kappa’s three-litre bag-in-box packaging design receiving Amazon’s ‘Frustration-Free Packaging’ (FFP) certification. Described as a world first for a generic packaging design, it is applicable for a wide range of products. This means that businesses selling on Amazon Marketplace can now use this ready to go, pre-certified bag-in-box design avoiding the need to go through costly and time-consuming testing at a specialized ISTA certified laboratory to gain FFP certification. One of the companies to benefit from this new frustration-free packaging is When in Rome, a wine retailer that focuses on selling wine in bag-inbox and other alternative formats. Rob Malin, CEO at When in Rome, talks about the process. “The frustration-free packaging process at Amazon for liquids is especially rigid, as they could ruin other items in the van if they break. But once you have

the certification, Amazon won’t wrap the pack in another box. You can design the packaging, put it into Amazon, and it will come out in exactly the same format, which is better for the environment, consumers and wine producers.”

A balancing act As an agricultural, perishable product, transporting wine comes with some extra challenges, as he explains. “You can treat wine with chemicals to mitigate its inherent fragility, but that would impact on the flavour. There is a trade-off between reducing product damage and reducing packaging; reducing packaging often increases damage. The challenge here is to satisfy customers who want to buy as sustainably as possible but also want the pack to reach them in pristine condition. If you ship a pallet with bag-in-box products without extra protection, they will arrive scratched, so they have to be wrapped into another layer of packaging.” Bag-in-box helps the wine to stay fresh for six weeks thanks to the tap that works as a vacuum seal. Its design lends itself for e-commerce channels, says Mr Malin. “E-commerce is a great channel for bag-in-box, as for home delivery, people won’t worry about size. In a corner shop you’re not going to have much luck selling bag-in-box wine as it’s quite heavy to carry back to your house. Additionally, in e-commerce, the average transaction size is six bottles, so bag-in-box, instead of costing more than an average bottle, seems cheap in comparison. Bag-in-box is 40% lighter than glass bottles and it is square – it makes sense to put square things in square containers, as it helps us to get triple the amount of liquid on the pallet.” This was just a quick glimpse at three of the innovations out there; we will be covering a lot more within Packaging Europe, the Sustainable Packaging Summit and the Global Packaging Innovation Forum over the coming months. n

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WHAT DOES THE E-COMMERCE BOOM MEAN FOR PHARMA SUPPLY CHAIN SECURITY?

Counterfeiting has been a problem for the pharmaceutical sector for as long as it has been in existence; that being said, it’s clear that the age of e-healthcare and online purchasing brings an entirely new set of challenges. Victoria Hattersley speaks to representatives from Avery Dennison, Domino Printing Sciences and Vault Security to explore how the industry can approach this new healthcare landscape.

Bart Vansteenkiste

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he problem of pharmaceutical counterfeiting is arguably greater than it’s ever been before. And the reason for this? In short, e-commerce. While there is no doubt that digitization has brought many positives for the healthcare sector – increasingly personalized service, greater accessibility for older or disabled people, greater speed and efficiency of ordering, to name just a few – the internet also provides many spaces for counterfeiters to exploit and online security measures are still lagging behind. With the internet, the consumer base for counterfeiters is direct and practically limitless; the dark web allows for anonymous transactions between manufacturers, distributors and consumers, while it is easy for online pharmacies selling faked medications to pose as legitimate. Indeed, even the ‘legitimate’ online pharmacies are not entirely safe, as it is still possible for counterfeiters to infiltrate them; there have been many cases of counterfeit batches being detected in well-established and legal supply chains. “In fact, I think the risk is much higher there,” says Arman Sarhaddar, CEO of Vault Security Systems. “People buying ‘lifestyle’ drugs online know they are purchasing unregulated products. If however a regulated product is available online for a bargain price, and can be ordered without a prescription, somebody may not consider that this product could be fake because the packaging looks identical. Appearing authentic while not being authentic is in my opinion a bigger risk to consumers than the ability to knowingly ordering unregulated products.”

What difference has the FMD Directive made? The strategies available to combat counterfeiting are numerous and we have discussed them all at Packaging Europe many times in the past. To give a | 12 | Packaging Europe

Arman Sarhaddar

brief overview, they include: tamper-evident labels, track & trace solutions, holograms, synthetic DNA and laser codes and special printing inks invisible to the naked eye, among others. In Europe, the 2019 FMD Directive has gone some way to regularizing the market, making digital mass serialization and tamper-evident design compulsory parts of pharmaceutical packaging design. Random 2D barcodes must be generated for each product and verified in suppliers’ databases before being distributed. Furthermore, the pharmaceutical companies themselves are now responsible for their own active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) suppliers, meaning they have to select suppliers very carefully to ensure they are safe and compliant. Finally, verified online pharmacies now need to include a quality sign that is clearly visible on their website with a hyperlink directly to the European Commission website. This is a step in the right direction but it obviously requires that consumers be aware of what to look for so they can ensure the goods they are buying online are genuine. “Although the FMD requires all those online pharmacies to have a quality sign the consumer can click, not everyone is aware of this and fake pharmacies often appear on top of Google searches because they are smart in positioning themselves,” says Ewa Weglinska, Product Manager Pharma at Avery Dennison. “So for those who are not so internet-aware there is a huge risk.” Bart Vansteenkiste, Global Life Sciences Sector Manager at Domino Printing Sciences, also stresses that serialization will only get us so far: “No doubt, serialization and the FMD Directive have really helped improve things. However,


the internet can still pose a problem: for example, Viagra is prescribed but you can still find many pharmacies on the internet that sell the product and you have no clue whether it is genuine or not. You may even see a serial number on the product but there’s no way for consumers to check that number; only pharmacies have access to the database and when that link is taken out of the equation, that’s when serialization can be less effective.” This risk is increased by the fact that products can be ordered from around the world and the FMD Directive is only applicable in Europe. When it comes to anti-counterfeiting, it’s clear that a multi-pronged approach is the most effective one: physical anti-tampering solutions as well as digital verification. In the future, we may also see serialization extended further. In fact, Bart Vansteenkiste suggests we might look to Russia as an example here. “Russia is ahead of the curve because, while areas like Europe and the US have only been focusing on prescribed medicines for serialization, this market has extended it to every consumable – right down to bottled water. Therefore, in the future counterfeiting should become more difficult because everything you buy and consume will have a serial number.”

Data, data and more data It should go without saying that anti-counterfeiting solutions in the age of e-commerce rely on the processing and storage of huge amounts of data. “The next step of serialization will be to have a serial number not just on each packet of pills, but on each pill itself,” says Bart Vansteenkiste. “Having a barcode on each pill will not necessarily make a huge difference when it comes to counterfeiting but it will help address another problem, which is human error in care settings. However, this would require huge investments in data storage as the batch code and expiry date would need to be stored for each pill, not just each packet. Understandably, perhaps, manufacturers are pushing back against this for now but it’s something we can expect to see in future if we are serious about increased security.” But leaving the storage question aside for a moment, when it comes to the question of data security we have been hearing a lot about the benefits of blockchain. In brief, this is a digital ledger or a computerized database of transactions, allowing manufacturers to safely exchange information with suppliers, without the need of a third party.

“Data security is always very difficult: if companies have an anticounterfeit feature such as a hologram then they clearly want as few people as possible to know how this looks; on the other hand, you want patients to know how your security sign / hologram is looking so they can authorize and distinguish the genuine product from the fake one,” says Ewa Weglinska. “And there are of course digital ways to authenticate which are very difficult for the counterfeiters to mimic: blockchain and also RFID are key here. So you have the product itself and then there is its digital twin which we often talk about, which can be authenticated only once. At Avery we see the future of authentication lying in these digital technologies.” “While blockchain technology and for example sensors cannot prevent fake medication, they can certainly guarantee the authenticity of products,” adds Arman Sarhadder. “Using tamper-proof blockchain technology in combination with copy- and cloning-protected anti-tamper devices on labels and packages is something we do at Vault Security Systems.”

What have we learned from Covid? Over the past year, the Covid-19 crisis has served to further expose the existing vulnerabilities in the pharmaceutical supply chain. The problem of counterfeit vaccines, for example, has thrown into stark relief what can happen when there is a sudden spike in demand for a particular product; with the supply chain under huge pressure to act quickly, it has left openings for producers of counterfeit medicines and ingredients to gain a foothold. “There are always problems when you are in a hurry but also if you are desperate,” says Ewa Weglinska. “So many governments have been trying to get their citizens vaccinated as fast as possible. The EU has been trying to make this safe by taking over the whole distribution process, but still we have seen examples such as in Mexico where people were actually given fake Pfizer vaccines through the ‘legal’ stream. Counterfeit Pfizer vaccines have also been found in Poland and, while these were not in the official stream, there is good reason to believe they were distributed to individuals. Clearly, people who were desperate to get vaccinated were trying to purchase them.” And if we are talking about vulnerabilities in the supply chain we might also look to the API stream. Often the final production stage may be very well controlled and supervised but the APIs and components can come from Asian Packaging Europe | 13 |


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countries which cannot be monitored so easily by pharma companies. In situations like Covid-19, this becomes particularly dangerous as these suppliers are under increased pressure to provide more and more of these APIs and may well come to look at different, less secure routes. This shows how, even in the official supply chains, there can be weak links in times of crisis.

The question of consumer responsibility Stepping briefly away from the supply side: many in the industry also feel that consumers need to take their share of responsibility by doing their due diligence when purchasing medicines online. After all, most of us are by now aware of the risks of purchasing medications online, are we not? “I think in 5-10 years from now virtually anything you buy anywhere will have a serial number but it’s up to YOU – the patient – to decide whether you want to buy it through a legal supplier or somewhere that could potentially sell fake products,” says Bart Vansteenkiste. And yes, it’s true that we should all be mindful of what we are purchasing – not just with pharmaceuticals but in any walk of life. The only sticking point here would seem to be that not everybody has the same awareness of the dangers; some are less internet-savvy, others are simply more vulnerable for other reasons. Asking all consumers to use their common sense in such issues may be like, for example, asking the public to exercise their own judgment when it comes to choosing whether or not to wear masks to protect others against Covid-19. One of the keys to addressing all of the above would be to increase public knowledge of this issue and educate consumers in the authentication markers to look out for when purchasing goods online – whether that’s holograms, luminescence or scannable product codes. “Pharmacies may be able to check the authenticity of products, but customers do not yet have that ability,” points out Arman Sarhaddar. “With e-commerce gaining traction and the risks coming with it, pharmaceutical brand owners can protect their products and their brand by giving customers the ability to check for the authenticity of their products.” Moves are already being made in this direction. Bart Vansteenkiste points out that Interpol are in fact currently talking to EMVO about working on a system where consumers can easily access a database from Interpol and scan product codes on their smartphones to check what they have bought is genuine. While this certainly doesn’t and shouldn’t take the responsibility away from the pharmaceutical companies themselves, it would provide a certain amount of empowerment. Allowing the public to validate products more easily using both physical and online tools should form a major part of the fight against counterfeiting.

Cooperating for future security If the pharmaceutical sector is going to keep pace with the online counterfeit medicine suppliers in future, it is clear that there is no one single solution but rather a range of complementary measures: it’s about the digital and the physical; the individual and the collective. Our interviewees agree that cooperation, as with everything, will be key. It is no longer enough to simply look after our own geographical patch or our own part of the supply chain. “I think the problem is the magnitude of these occurrences,” agrees Ewa Weglinska. “There are so many involved in the counterfeit business because it is, frankly, so lucrative and controlling the internet is a difficult task: if you close one fake medicines website then another three will open. What is needed increasingly in the future is cooperation between governments across different global regions. In Europe we are quite good at controlling our own space but what about other areas that are out of our scope? China, or India, for example?” If we’re talking about the package itself then there surely needs to be more cooperation between the pharmaceutical company, and their packaging and labelling suppliers, so that for example the labels they produce can be produced only for this specific purpose and destroyed if they are unused. In short, we need to keep single supply chains tight on the one hand, but open up global dialogue and global standardization for supply chain security on the other hand.” This is a complex balance to achieve, but Ewa Weglinska believes the world is slowly but surely edging in that direction. “Serialization is already in place in the USA and is kicking off in Europe and South America. Of course, in an ideal future there would be one legislation that overlaps through the whole world but I think realistically that is several years off at least.” Several years off maybe, but it’s encouraging to see the roadmaps slowly being put in place as we move towards a more global approach to securing n our vital pharmaceutical supply chains.

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HOW DRONES ARE RESHAPING HOME DELIVERY

To many consumers, the idea of products being delivered by drones may seem fanciful. However, Wing, which is owned by Alphabet – Google’s parent company – is already operating its drone delivery services in three countries. We spoke with the company to learn more. FS: Broadly speaking, why should the packaging industry be interested in drone delivery technology? What are the potential benefits?

FS: Could you give us some details on how the process works, from when the customer orders a product to when the product is delivered to them?

W: Several of the merchant partners we work with today have told us

W: Wing’s drones are custom-designed to deliver packages safely, reli-

they previously gave up on home delivery altogether, because the finances just didn’t work out. Brugh Coffee, one of our merchants in Virginia, tried more typical on-demand delivery options previously, but he said it cost too much and drinks arrived too cold. But with drone delivery, suddenly home delivery is back on the table. As this technology expands, we expect businesses to be able to deliver goods more safely, more efficiently, faster, and at a lower cost than conventional road transportation. Right now, last mile delivery accounts for over 50% of the total cost to ship a good. In the next decade, the number of last-mile delivery vehicles on our roads is set to grow by 36%, increasing emissions by 30% and adding 11 minutes to the average commute, according to the World Economic Forum. By leveraging the underutilized space above us, drone delivery can lessen our reliance on the ground beneath us, cutting costs and emissions, reducing congestion, and making our roads safer. A recent study conducted by Virginia Tech University found that drone delivery at scale in an average U.S. metro area could save the average consumer up to 56 hours per year by reducing unnecessary errands and trips; generate up to $284,000 USD per year in new sales for a typical restaurant; reduce vehicle traffic by 294 million miles per year, equivalent to taking 25,565 cars off the road; avoid up to 568 car crashes per year; and displace up to 113,900 tonnes of CO2 per year, equivalent to planting 46,000 acres of new forest. Our model also allows businesses to reach more customers. According to a study by Gaia Consulting in Finland, the use of drones in home deliveries could expand the market reach of local businesses by 2x or 3x by 2030. The wider operating area could enable companies to reach 250,000 more households and would increase product variety for consumers by 3x to 8x.

ably and very quickly. Once a customer submits an order, our drone picks up the package at our delivery facility. The drone then climbs to a cruise height on average of about 45 metres above ground, flying to the designated delivery destination typically in several minutes. Once at the customer destination, the drone slows down, hovers, descends to a delivery height approximately seven metres above the ground, and then lowers the tether and automatically releases the package in the desired delivery area. There is no need to unclip or assist with the delivery of the package. Needless to say, the whole process is fully Covid-19 friendly, allowing customers, notably the most vulnerable ones, to shop safely from their homes.

FS: In the past, safety concerns have been raised about the proliferation of drones in both commercial and recreational capacities. How would you respond to these concerns? W: Safety is the number one priority at Wing. We have flown more than 100,000 flights to confirm the safety of our operations, and have had no safety incidents in the tens of thousands of deliveries made across three continents. We have multiple levels of redundancy built into our operations, including real-time systems that conduct health and safety checks on our drones and qualified pilots who oversee operations. To enable us to offer our services, civil aviation authorities (CAA’s) in the US, Australia and Finland have all rigorously reviewed the safety of Wing’s aircraft, personnel and operations to ensure operations meet the highest level of safety. Lightweight delivery drones are among the safest ways to transport goods; they are safer for the community than having goods delivered by Packaging Europe | 17 |



truck or car or driving yourself to pick up an item from the store. According to the Queensland Government’s report in Australia, if drone deliveries replaced only 0.7% of motor vehicle journeys, this could result in 1100 fewer accidents on Queensland roads for instance.

FS: Sustainability is perhaps the biggest issue in the packaging industry today. Would the increased use of drones in a delivery context bring sustainability benefits? W: Wing prides itself on being a good steward of airspace and the environment. Small drone deliveries can produce 99% fewer emissions than pick-ups via car. In fact, it takes less energy to deliver a box of pasta via a Wing drone than it does to heat water to boil it. These energy savings are a result of the energy-efficient all-electric design of our delivery drones. When a delivery is made by Wing aircraft, it takes a car off the road that would otherwise make that trip. Overall, this means less traffic, fewer emissions, and safer roads. A study by Gaia Consulting in Finland suggests that by 2030 drone delivery could lead to 11 million fewer vehicle delivery kilometres reducing congestion and overall emissions. The study goes on to posit that drones could reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Helsinki by 2,000t CO2 in 2030. This reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is equivalent to almost 350,000 electric sauna heating sessions or an estimated annual carbon sink of about 250 hectares of forest, which equates to approximately 350 football fields.

FS: Wing’s solutions are currently being trialled in Finland. Could you give us some background on this trial and tell us about any lessons you have learned from it thus far? W: Finns are internationally renowned for being early adopters of new technologies, and Wing has been working with local communities and businesses to find the best way to implement our services in the Helsinki area. Another reason why Helsinki made sense is their ambitious goals on cutting greenhouse gas emissions as well as decreasing the need for private cars in the city centre.

We believe that our drones can make transport of goods more efficient and more sustainable and can partly replace transport by car. Our early users in Finland told us they wanted greater product variety. In response to that, we have partnered with Alepa, Fazer and other merchants, and are introducing new meals, snacks and beverages. We knew that the Finnish weather would be a challenge, and the strong winds, rain, ice and snow in its various forms lured us to Finland in the first place. We know that if we can fly in the heat of Australia, and in the cold of Finland, we can fly almost anywhere! We started doing cold weather tests in the Finnish city of Tampere in 2018, and during our winter breaks in 2019 and 2020, we continued this work with a series of tests in the north. Weather-proofing our drone is no easy feat. But, we have started flying a more weather-resistant model of our aircraft, so we can offer a more reliable service in a range of bad weather – from below zero conditions to rain. Finland is also the first place where we began offering our service in public parks. Passers-by can spot a Wing sign, download our app, and order a picnic within minutes.

FS: Looking ahead, when can we expect to see drone delivery become mainstream, and what barriers are in the way? W: You are going to see much more collaborative and creative solutions! Through our collaborations, trials and test runs, we have shown how drones are creating a new era of accessible aviation that can bring incredible benefits when we need them most. Drone delivery has the potential to reduce inequalities in access to quality products, notably for the elderly, for people with disabilities or health issues and for those in more rural areas. The transformation of air traffic management is firmly underway and over the past two years Wing has been committed to global initiatives (research, technology development and policy and advocacy) that demonstrate how the air traffic management ecosystem can evolve to support the volume and diversity of unmanned aviation. Currently, drone delivery is confined to a number of communities that have received special permissions to pilot these services. We are grateful for the innovative spirit of these communities and the respective aviation regulators with whom we have worked to make drone delivery possible in the US, Australia and Finland. Industry and governments must work together to empower companies like Wing to scale beyond these trials to make commercial drone n deliveries at global scale a reality. Packaging Europe | 19 |


COLLECTION – THE FOUNDATION FOR FLEXIBLE PACKAGING’S CIRCULAR ECONOMY Collecting flexible packaging is key for a circular economy because it sources the feedstock for future sustainable products and CEFLEX, an industry-led project, thinks minor adjustments to Europe’s existing waste systems can help send more of these soft plastics where they need to go.

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round 26 million tonnes of plastic waste are generated in Europe each year with just under a third of that collected for recycling – it’s even less for flexible packaging where around 17% is transformed into a new raw material. “Most flexible packaging in Europe is collected through the residual general waste stream, but only some of it is captured in separate collection schemes,” said Michael Minch-Dixon, who works on collection at the Circular Economy for Flexible Packaging (CEFLEX) project, a collaboration of over 170 European companies, associations and organizations representing the entire value chain of flexible packaging. “We estimate that about 5.6 million tonnes per year of consumer flexible packaging is placed on the market. This includes plastic, paper and aluminum. Approximately 60% of this is mono material packaging to be sorted into recycling streams. These significant volumes of material need to be collected for sorting as we move to the circular economy – and collection is the key point where it moves from the consumer into a formal waste collection system” says Michael. In a recent position statement, CEFLEX stakeholders agreed that 100% of flexible packaging must be targeted for collection and sorting, including on-the-go packaging. ‘Separate collection of flexible packaging at source is preferred or alternatively combined with other packaging, including rigid plastics, metal and beverage cartons’ states the position. “Waste needs to be made available for sorting in a way that maximizes recycling and material returned to the economy. Separately collected material tends to be easier to sort, cheaper to recycle and helps maximize quality” adds Minch-Dixon. “We need to make this easy, convenient and effective for consumers and sorters with a recognizable and harmonized approach across Europe.” Michael continues to explain there are also higher participation rates from society when there is kerbside collection, rather than a drop-off system. Another element that should be harmonized according to CEFLEX is that paper and plastic flexible packaging is not collected together. “Whilst these two materials can, and are, sorted together, experience shows that it’s not easy and the contamination levels of both the paper and plastic bales are higher where sorting plants processes these together,” Michael says. | 20 | Packaging Europe

A relatively ‘quick win’ to boost circularity? “Separate collection can and is happening – and it doesn’t have to cost the Earth, as the systems are broadly already in place,” states Michael. According to CEFLEX, consumer flexible packaging is being separately collected in at least 18 EU countries and post sorting of municipal solid waste is extending the quantity of material targeted for sorting in key countries. An entire spectrum of collection strategies, like deposit schemes for bottles for example, deployed across Europe exist and provide opportunities to collect more, better. But Michael believes scaling up separate collection would see Europe “make significant strides towards circularity” of flexible packaging with only minor adjustments to existing infrastructure and investment. In Belgium, 95% of all household packaging was collected in 2020 through Fost Plus. Their ‘New Blue Bag’ of PMD mixed recyclables collected an additional 90,000 tonnes of extra packaging annually that, until recently, still ended up in the residual waste. An average of 8 kilograms of additional PMD is now collected per person. Even when flexible packaging is not separately collected meaningful progress can be made. “In countries like Spain and The Netherlands there are examples of wind sifters and other sorting equipment being used to extract plastic packaging from the waste stream going into incinerators. This enables the incinerator to process greater volumes of material and also an opportunity for the packaging to re-enter the circular economy. Material can then go into a sorting plant and be baled into relevant fractions,” he outlines. “We have the understanding of the technologies, and they are operating at scale, so we just have to replicate best practice,” said Michael. “What we need to do is work on the business case for circularity on a national basis because each country has a different collection strategy.”

Putting the pieces into practice CEFLEX suggests that collection systems have good potential to evolve – relatively quickly and easily compared to other end of life systems – to give far more access to raw materials for sorting and recycling. For example, CEFLEX’s


recommendations would not require a new fleet of trucks to start doing additional rounds or introducing dedicated containers and end collecting flexibles and paper together. Separate collection scheme costs vary, but recent analysis by Suez commissioned by CEFLEX looked at real world data and put the cost of collection between €100–250 per tonne and a CO2e footprint of between 30–50kg CO2 per tonne in northern European countries. The main economic challenge facing widespread adoption of separate collection is found further up the value chain, where sorting and recycling facilities need the right infrastructure to incentivize the right collection of flexible packaging. CEFLEX hopes their economic analysis and position paper can generate greater investor confidence in the right circular solutions. “The economics for recycling of flexible packaging is, by and large, not there yet. For example, if you want to sort out a non-LDPE (low-density polyethylene) flexible packaging and create a mixed plastic bale, you’re going to have to pay at least €200 a tonne,” Michael said. “But economic opportunities and environmental benefits are within reach; and a range of political and market forces are giving added momentum to the circular economy of flexible packaging. One systemic piece of the puzzle is Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR). “Recycling flexible packaging needs the support of EPR schemes to bridge the difference between returning materials to the circular economy and what people are currently willing to pay for these products. Evolving the EPR system to incentivize better design as well as drive better sorting. Sorted bales currently have a wide range of values from +100 euro for very high-quality bales of municipally collected waste to -200 euro for mixed plastics,” outlines Minch-Dixon.

“But the bottom line is: if it isn’t collected, then we cannot make progress throughout the system. As we move to circularity and more ambitious recycling targets, there’s an additional incentive to put more thought into the collection, sorting and recycling of flexible packaging. “Out of these three steps, we can and should be making light work of progress through separate collection to capture resources in the best way n possible,” says Michael. https://twitter.com/MissionCircular

Michael Minch-Dixon Packaging Europe | 21 |


PROJECT STOP – TACKLING OCEAN PLASTIC LEAKAGE

The problem of ocean plastics remains a crucial issue for the plastics packaging industry. Elisabeth Skoda takes a closer look at Project Stop, which aims to address the challenge at the source, gaining insights from project founders SYSTEMIQ and Borealis. She talks to Joi Danielson, Asia Programme Director at SYSTEMIQ, and Craig Halgreen, Sustainability & Public affairs Director at Borealis. ES: To start off: Joi, can you give us a brief overview of SYSTEMIQ’s work? ES: And Craig – what made Borealis decide to create this project together JD: We are a group of leaders committed to working together to stop environmental destruction, and to reduce deepening social inequalities. We work in three areas: renewable energy, land use and material use. As a company we work at the systems level. We think for true change to happen you have to adjust the underlying system. We work on an advisory capacity with different companies, integrating new ventures and mobilizing large-scale capital towards climate action and UN SDGs.

with SYSTEMIQ?

CH: For Borealis, as a manufacturer of a wide range of plastic products, it is

us a quick overview of what the project would like to achieve?

distressing when you see the visuals of animals and sea life with plastics in their bellies etc. No responsible company could continue to operate and do nothing about this. We believe that life demands progress. Of course we need to manufacture the plastics that people need and plastics can provide a high quality of life, but at the same time we had to do something about the end of life. We saw an opportunity to join forces with SYSTEMIQ and create something that could stop the leakage of plastics into the ocean. I think the greatest input from both companies is the pragmatic ‘let’s get it done’ attitude. Walk rather than talk.

JD: I think all of us were impatient to see real change in ocean plastic

ES: On a more general level, why did you choose Indonesia as the loca-

and wanted to work on a project that resulted in permanent reduction. Up to this point we hadn’t been seeing many real shifts on the ground. The idea with Borealis and SYSTEMIQ was to create a front-line project that resulted in permanent reduction with zero leakage. We partner with cities with very little if any waste management in place and put a team on the ground for two to three years to build circular economically sustainable zero leakage waste systems. The systems should be circular in nature so as many non-organic materials recycled and non-organic materials composted as possible. This creates better social and economic situations for the cities we work with.

tion for Project Stop?

ES: Can you tell us a bit more about what inspired Project Stop and give

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CH: It’s the country that has the second highest leakage into the sea; I think China is first but it would have been more complicated for us to go there. JD: Indonesia has one of the lowest waste collection rates for its GDP per capita in the world so only 39% of waste is actually collected. The choice is therefore to burn or dump waste and sometimes they dump it in the water. What this means is you have 40 million tonnes going into the environment every year which has huge environmental, health, social and economic consequences.


Joi Danielson

Craig Halgreen

ES: Why do you think it is that such a big proportion of these ocean plastics come from Asia? Why is the problem so serious there?

JD: They are developing economies, and oftentimes the pace of development is faster than the waste management system can keep up with. You have a very different consumer behaviour than you did 10 or 15 years ago. We find many similarities in countries with low waste collection levels but there is always a different mix of challenges.

CH: I would add that the geographical nature of the countries is quite specific. Indonesia has something like 17,000 islands and some are quite small. In the Philippines it is the same so it’s very difficult to put effective waste management systems in place. ES: Could you tell us more about the work you do in different Indonesian cities? What have been the challenges in setting up different or more sustainable systems?

JD: We target cities where the need is highest and where there is very strong governmental will to change the situation. When we get here we have to develop a full waste management system, from buying trucks and tricycles to building governance systems, laws and regulations, behaviour change, building sorting facilities etc. so we can make a circular waste system. What’s lovely about Indonesia is that there are lots of different types of groups so we work with: women’s groups, religious groups etc. and most of the cities we work in also have very strong fishing communities so in all there can be more than 1000 people inputting into each city and it becomes THEIR waste system. We create it together with them so they have ownership and we stay there for multiple years to make sure it’s embedded and economically sustainable before we leave.

ES: How scalable and transferrable is this process to other cities and countries around the world?

JD: I think this overarching model of supporting cities can be replicated all around the world. The specifics would need to be customized, however. We have tended to work in small-to-medium cities but there are also megacities or extremely remote smaller areas such as remote islands that again require a very different type of solution. We are trying to grow so we can figure out new archetypes and create ‘play-books’ for each of these. Then it can get a bit easier and more efficient each time. Packaging Europe | 23 |


CH: We started off with Muncar in Java with 130,000 people and the second city was Pasuruan in Java with about one million people. The third city is Jembrana, Bali, which is different in that it is only an island and more mountainous. So there is some transferability to other archetypes even now. I think it also proves some level of scalability. JD: What we see with projects around the world is a mushroom effect. There will be a successful pilot then areas close to it will learn from it so there will then be a cluster of locations showing progress but often you don’t really get beyond that. If you really want to change across the entire country you can’t just do the city work so it’s really about using the city work as examples of what’s possible but also working top-down on the root cause structural constraints that have made the waste collection so low in the first place. Governance, for example.

ES: What would you stay are the next steps for the project in the coming years? CH: I certainly can see us expanding where we are today in Muncar but there’s a great opportunity to take what we’ve learned in the city across the region and I think that’s probably the immediate step. We also have some great sorting plants that are nearly complete so it’s all about getting the work done. ES: Could you share some success stories? CH: One critical success point is the partners we have on board. Without companies putting their money and expertise on the table this wouldn’t happen. Of course Borealis is the mainstay in this but since we started we have engaged the Norwegian Embassy, NOVA Chemicals, Borouge, and from the packaging side we have Nestle and the Alliance to End Plastic Waste. Most recently. Siegwerk has also come on board. I think the way that SYSTEMIQ has been able to build a very solid team of local individuals with a lot of experience building a circular economy that is suitable for their environment is quite phenomenal. It’s amazing how committed the people in the local teams are and how much they have learned. JD: Just to give some numbers. We’ve just passed bringing waste collection to 100,000 people who have never had this before; we’ve also stopped more than 7000 tonnes of waste going into the environment. | 24 | Packaging Europe

We’ve also created many safe, reliable green jobs that are valuable in the community. We’re the first to trial different types of governance systems that have never been used for waste management. We’re also going to be trialling plastic credits and that funding goes into helping the operating costs of the system. In our first project city of Muncar, we hear that spawning areas are coming back where they hadn’t had fish for years so that is heartening as it proves that change can happen.

ES: In conclusion, collaboration across the value chain is key. But what can be done on a government level and across the value chain to address the problem?

CH: For a circular economy to work we need to have products designed for this in the first place. We can put mechanical recycling into Indonesia etc. but for that to happen efficiently you need to have products that are easy to recycle. Therefore the packaging and plastic industries need to go back to square one and start designing products for circularity. In some cases we may have to reinvent the type of packaging or redistribution models that we’ve been used to. If we continue the way we are today then packages will continue to go to landfills rather than being used as the valuable materials that they are. The industry should look at designing products for circularity and recyclability. We were so focused before on the functionality of the packaging itself that we over-engineered some solutions and now when it comes to end of life we don’t know what to do with the waste. JD: In countries like Indonesia there are two challenges. First is the lack of collection, so you need to set up new waste systems where before they didn’t exist; and there’s a second effort that really needs to make sure that once those systems are set up they are economically sustainable and robust longterm. You also need more funding going into the waste system. It generally costs around 18 dollars per person per year to provide circular waste management services but in Indonesia there’s around 65–90 cents per person being spent. We’re trying to get voluntary and mandatory EPR systems in place, but then once you have accountability you also need to have strong, transparent governance systems. What needs to be done is actually fairly simple, but that n doesn’t mean it’s easy to implement.


Packaging Europe | 25 |


ROVEMA: TACKLING THE MULTI-MATERIAL AND SUSTAINABILITY CHALLENGES Demand for sustainable packaging solutions is continuously growing. Consumers nowadays often demand paper packaging for their products, which poses a range of challenges to packaging machines. Sometimes, of course, flexible plastics packaging, especially monomaterials, remain a better packaging material both from a sustainability and functionality point of view. Here, the flexibility of being able to seamlessly switch between paper and flexible plastics is key. Elisabeth Skoda discusses the challenges and opportunities when it comes to packaging demanding products in both plastics and paper with ROVEMA, and looks at trends and solutions in the sector.

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rands are increasingly concerned about the potential publicity and damage that can result from images of their branded plastic packaging in the waste stream or being featured in discussions of sustainability and waste. As a consequence, food manufacturers face the urgent challenge of reducing plastic, increasing paper and increasing recyclability, while simultaneously mitigating the negative impacts on manufacturing efficiency, logistics and product safety and quality. Ingo Hamel, ROVEMA’s Head of Innovation and R&D is keen to point out that ROVEMA has already been involved with paper packaging materials for several years. “For the past three years, we have had a machine in our test centre dedicated exclusively to paper packaging material testing. Here we test the latest developments both based on specific customer requests or in direct cooperation with packaging material manufacturers. This way we can support customers at an early stage in the decision-making process for machine-compatible paper packaging materials” A pack is only as good as its seal, so the company also continuously develops them further, for example through special geometries, better heat distribution and heat transfer.

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“The optimized motion control of our machines enables us to realize the longest possible sealing times per cycle. We also consistently and continuously adapt our machine software to the special requirements of new packaging materials. The servo-motor drives thus run with even smoother movements to start in a soft manner, reducing forces on packaging material and machine,” says Mr Hamel.

Material flexibility ROVEMA’s machines have been prepared for processing a wide variety of paper packaging materials, he adds. “Today, there are paper material options for products that require only low barrier properties, and whose machine processability and output rates are almost equal to plastic composite results. “In principle, we are able to convert any existing machine to specific bag shapes or to new alternative packaging materials, including papers, at the customer’s site.” However, as things stand today, paper is not yet the best solution for all packaging tasks, and it is important to understand paper as a packaging material, which differs seriously from plastic packaging materials in terms of handling, look and feel.


“We have a large selection of sealing tools in our technical centre for this type of testing in particular. As part of these tests, we also coordinate with packaging material manufacturers to make the respective packaging materials even more efficient to process on machines.” “Current papers, including barrier papers, are not suitable for every packaged product due to limited water vapour, gas and grease barriers. In addition to considering sustainability aspects, product protection also plays an important role. Especially for highly sensitive products such as baby food, grated cheese, coffee or pet food, a recyclable plastic packaging material makes more sense than a non-recyclable paper packaging material with a barrier, as for these products in particular, the barrier layer needs to be very thick and often results in the paper-based packaging being non-recyclable,” says Mr Hamel.

Making the switch For manufacturers who want to satisfy rapidly shifting consumer expectations without full-scale reinvestment in their vertical bagging infrastructure, ROVEMA in many cases can modify existing equipment to run paper – and even to run both paper and plastic, and the company is on hand to support companies with their switch from plastics to paper, and vice versa. Mr Hamel explains that if a machine has been prepared for the processing of paper and plastic packaging materials, customers can usually implement a changeover between these two packaging material types themselves within the usual format changeover times. “Important elements here are the format set, folding and sealing tools, and an adapted motion profile when forming and sealing the bag. The focus is on not damaging the more sensitive paper packaging material. In addition, sealing temperature and sealing pressure must be significantly changed compared to plastic packaging materials. This is easily possible as standard for all ROVEMA machines on the market with servo-motor jaw drive and side gusseted tools (tuck-in fingers). In addition, the changes between the packaging materials can be saved as a recipe in the HMI.” Different types of food come with their own challenges when it comes to packing them, and each product has certain properties that must be taken into account during the packaging process. “In the case of pasta, for example, care must be taken to ensure gentle feeding, as sharp edges resulting from breakage can pierce the packaging material, and an excessively high proportion of damaged pasta is not well received by the consumer. Dusty products, like oat flakes, have completely different requirements.” explains Mr Hamel.

Case study – Altmühlthaler Teigwaren Germany-based company Altmühlthaler Teigwaren recently switched its pasta packaging to paper following consumer demand, and the company chose a ROVEMA SBS system to allow it to grow flexibly. A single version of the SBS 250 with one Form Fill and Seal machine has been installed, and the company reports that the changeover to paper was managed smoothly. The compact SBS block packaging machine can offer differentiation of products at the point of sale, flexibility for a wide product range and 40 different bag top shapes. It enables the processing of different packaging materials, is flexibly expandable and offers conveyor filling for fragile products.

Case study – Bauck Looking at another example where ROVEMA’s SBS is successfully used, the Demeter farm Bauck packs gluten-free flakes and flours in paper bags. The different products have different requirements, and with the help of the ROVEMA SBS Twin packaging machine, it is easy to switch between different bag top shapes, packaging materials and format sizes – including block bottom bags. Bauck uses pre-made paper bags and paper bags from flat film web. The latter are also produced with SBS packaging machines from ROVEMA. Bauck worked on testing and optimizing the system with ROVEMA at their technical centre ‘Technikum’. In this instance, Sappi Guard Nature 1-MS was used, a paper based packaging solution with integrated barrier against mineral oil (MOSH/MOAH) and grease and heat sealable properties. Production started with block-bottom bags after Easter 2021, a format that is still quite rare on the market. This bag shape posed a technical challenge and adjustments of downstream process steps. However, this was outweighed by the fact that the compact block-bottom bags saves transport and storage costs. Bags and cartons become flatter, more units fit on the pallet. The company switched to paper bags for the majority of their product range, but stuck to plastic for products such as oat pops, as they absorb moisture, which makes them less suitable for using paper. Product protection is key here. Both paper bags and plastic bags can be produced on the SBS Twin from ROVEMA, at Bauck in formats from 250 grams to 1-kilogram bags. Packaging Europe | 27 |


“We have a large selection of sealing tools in our technical centre for this type of testing in particular. As part of these tests, we also coordinate with packaging material manufacturers to make the respective packaging materials even more efficient to process on machines.” Before the oat flakes fall into the bags, they are transported directly from the silo to the auger feeder, a special feature, as flakes are often dosed with multi-head weighers.

Filling expertise As mentioned above, packaging in bags from the flat film can be significantly more efficient and cost effective than using pre-fabricated bags. This is supported by the method of low-dust and compacted dosing through the VacuumPowder Filler (SDH), which results in a substantial increase in dosing accuracy of up to 50%. In addition, the compression of product allows a reduction of bag size – this saves packaging materials and improves transport volumes.

Sealing challenges Mr Hamel points out that particularly in the case of recyclable paper packaging materials, for which only minimal amounts of sealing medium are used, dust particles in the seam are an important quality criterion. “Due to the thin sealing layer, these often cannot be compensated for and then lead to lower bag tightness. Knowledge of product properties and suitable dosing and packaging technology is therefore very important, especially when selecting an alternative packaging material.” It’s not always obvious at first glance whether paper or flexible packaging is the better packaging solution for a particular product. ROVEMA works with customers to help them determine what solution will work best for them. “We advise the customer on machine processability, bag tightness and output rate, and work out parameters based on packaging material tests in

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our technical centre. In this way, our customers can usually anticipate what additional costs will be incurred by the change, or whether a possible lower output resulting from the alternative packaging material is acceptable within the framework of the overall project and will be supported by the consumer. All other requirements such as barrier properties, migration values, handling behaviour in the distribution channel and optical appearance/market appearance are clarified directly between our customers and the respective packaging material manufacturer. The final evaluation of the packaging material in terms of recyclability is usually carried out by the customer with institutes,” explains Mr Hamel.

Paper requirements ROVEMA can process a wide range of papers on its machines, as long as they fulfil a certain set of criteria. The packaging material must be machine-compatible, i.e. formable, which generally excludes paper qualities over 150 g/m². In addition, the packaging material must be coated with a sealing medium. This can be a PE film or a sealing compound that can be melted in the heat-sealing process and ensures the seam strength. “We have a large selection of sealing tools in our technical centre for this type of testing in particular. As part of these tests, we also coordinate with packaging material manufacturers to make the respective packaging materials even more efficient to process on machines. In this area in particular, we have had some very fruitful collaborations in recent years with large international suppliers of materials, but also with smaller, very specialized ones,” says Mr Hamel. In conclusion, while it is safe to assume that demand for paper packaging is set to grow further in the future, it is important to remember that plastics, especially monomaterials, also have their merits when it comes to functionality, especially product protection. Packaging machines and upgrade kits that offer the flexibility to work with a wide range of paper materials as well as plastics n can offer companies the choice that they need.


THE ROAD TOWARDS FULLY CIRCULAR POLYOLEFINS Elisabeth Skoda speaks to Trevor Davis, Head of Marketing Consumer Products at Borealis, to discuss strategies and ways forward to address the most pressing sustainability issues of today.

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olyolefin provider Borealis set itself the ambitious goal to achieve a truly circular economy by combining different technologies in a complementary and cascading way through R&D and collaborations across the value chain. As a recent example, the company announced a partnership with Renasci N.V., a provider recycling solutions who created the novel Smart Chain Processing (SCP) concept. This concept is a proprietary method of maximizing material recovery in order to achieve zero waste and enables the processing of multiple waste streams using different recycling technologies under one roof. Mixed waste – plastics, metals, and biomass – is automatically selected and sorted multiple times. After sorting, plastic waste is first mechanically recycled, and then in a second step any remaining material is chemically recycled into circular pyrolysis oil and lighter product fractions, which are used to fuel the process. He identifies the core challenge around sustainability as finding solutions that address all aspects of the problem, not just a part of it, but is confident that Borealis is on the right track to helping with finding these solutions. “I speak daily with brand owners and converters who are passionately working on sustainability. The value chain faces a difficult task to find solutions that tackle both the waste and CO2 challenges at speed and scale. But sustainability and circularity are woven throughout the Borealis strategy. We are simultaneously focused on the sustainability of our own operations as we develop our circular portfolio of products. We are committed to growing our circular portfolio including renewables to address CO2, chemical recycling to address plastic waste, and advanced mechanical recycling which covers both waste and CO2.”

Focus on R&D Packaging R&D plays a crucial role at Borealis, and the company works hard on ensuring that every solution fulfils strict sustainability criteria.

“Each innovation for the Consumer Products team is reviewed through an intense sustainability analysis as part of our development process. We are also heavily focused on innovating to improve and expand our circular portfolio while offering products globally as we expand into North America and work with Borouge in the Middle East and Asia. Design for recycling is a key innovation pillar with our existing mono-material 100% full polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) solutions. In short, sustainability is the present and future for Consumer Products as we offer packaging solutions that make everyday life easier.” In 2020, the company launched five products in the area of the Bornewables™, a portfolio of circular polyolefin products manufactured with renewable feedstocks, described as offering the same material performance as virgin polyolefins while being decoupled from fossil-based feedstock, and also Borcycle™ M for advanced mechanical recycling. “In 2021, we have even bigger plans for Consumer Products with additional launches in the area of the Bornewables, Borcycle™ C chemical recycling and Borcycle M advanced mechanical recycling,” adds Mr Davis.

Collaborations Borealis works in collaboration with partners across the value chain to deliver new solutions. A notable example is a prototype food packaging made with 100% recycled raw materials (a Packaging Europe Sustainability Awards finalist), and a new closure made of post-consumer recycled resin in collaboration with Menshen. This came with its own set of challenges, but ultimately yielded valuable insights for the company. “One challenge we faced when launching products using mechanically recycled and renewable materials was ensuring that we had the right feed-

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“High quality recycled material is in strong demand and supply is currently limited. And, if I look from a planet perspective, it makes sense that recycled material carries a premium as it encourages investment that benefits society.” stock for our mechanical recycling operations. Brand owners and consumers are not willing to compromise and we are dedicated to reaching the quality demanded. We learned a lot along the way thanks to our Ecoplast and mtm recycling plants, and we are very excited about our operational start of the advanced mechanical recycling demo plant in Lahnstein, Germany – the result of a partnership that combines chemistry with technology for unsurpassed results. The state-of-the-art plant processes both rigid and flexible PE and PP plastic waste from households. Operation of the plant is a joint enterprise between Borealis, TOMRA and Zimmermann.” Another example of success across the value chain collaboration is Borealis’ EverMindsTM platform. Mr Davis explains some highlights and milestones. “We created EverMinds™ to show commitment and inspire our partners by designing sustainable solutions for a better future. We have already established a ‘thinking circular’ mind-set by putting EverMinds™ at the forefront of all things circular economy related and we have steered the discussion on circularity. We had big plans for an EverMinds™ Summit that we needed to cancel in 2020, so we took a digital approach to EverMinds™: watch this space as we continue to advance our collaboration. We are proud of the blog where we invite our value chain partners to exchange with us and offer their best practices to advance the circularity in the whole plastics industry. Our goal remains to collaborate across the value chain to reinvent for more sustainable living. Now, the journey continues, and we want to take the next step. EverMinds™ is evolving into a platform that is all about action and accelerating that action in circularity.”

for business growth through offering transformative innovation meeting the various technical challenges. “We see significant potential for growth in packaging. The Consumer Products team has embraced the challenge to continue expanding our product offering. We are careful to devote time and attention to transformation, as we are ever mindful to continue pushing big ideas. One key proof point is that we obtained ISCC+ certification across our plants where we produce resin for packaging solutions, to enable mass balance certification as we transform to feedstock from both renewable and chemically recycled sources. High quality recycled material is in strong demand and supply is currently limited. And, if I look from a planet perspective, it makes sense that recycled material carries a premium as it encourages investment that benefits society. We see plastic as a valuable resource that should be reused and recycled. We are also closely monitoring data from NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business that shows n the clear value for the brand owners that embrace sustainability.” Trevor Davis

The business case for sustainability

The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted and transformed the industry beyond conference schedules. While the pandemic was at its peak, there was a clear shift in consumers’ perception of packaging, especially plastics packaging, as Mr Davis notes. “We saw an increase of packaging in light of Covid-19 as consumers were focused on the safety and security that plastic provides. At the same time, consumers are also becoming more aware of their footprint, so at the same time we see an increase in plastic combined with an increased focus on the demand for sustainability.” In conclusion, there is a lot of talk about the cost of sustainability, but it is important to bear in mind that it has the potential to offer opportunities Packaging Europe | 31 |


ON SECOND THOUGHTS... WHEN REUSABLE PACKAGING IS NOT THE RIGHT CHOICE… Jocelyne Ehret of TheRightPackaging.com tells us why reusable packaging is not automatically the most sustainable option.

F

irst, before going any further, and because there are many different understandings, what is the meaning of reuse? According to the DIRECTIVE (EU) 2018/852 of the European Parliament, “reusable packaging shall mean packaging which has been conceived, designed and placed on the market to accomplish within its life cycle multiple trips or rotations by being refilled or reused for the same purpose for which it was conceived”. In other words, if packaging is not especially designed for reuse or if it is reused for another purpose, it is not considered as reusable. Why is this? Common sense would go in favour of reusable – but the reality in sustainable development is never so simple and several key parameters must be taken into consideration. Reusable packaging could be the right or wrong choice, depending on the weight of packaging, the transport distance, the type of cleaning (industrial, dishwashing machine, handwashing) and the number of feasible reuse cycles before packaging breakage. However, reuse also depends on the environmental impact that we would like to minimize. Most of the published studies and research consider CO2 emissions or carbon footprint as the main criteria – but we must not forget the water footprint. Water scarcity is a crucial element of sustainable design. Seasonal changes in water availability, long-term water shortages and unsustainable consumption of water create constraints in many geographical areas. Each raw material used to manufacture packaging has a specific water footprint. The water footprint of packaging raw material is an indicator of the appropriation of freshwater resources, measured in terms of amount of water consumed (blue) and polluted (grey). Green water footprint should be also measured for bio-based material (rainwater consumed by plant). Let’s look at the two cases below:

When reuse doesn’t need any cleaning step: For packaging, containers, or any items for which a simple visual inspection is necessary to prepare for reuse, you can reuse it as much as you can, and the benefit will be positive against a single-use material. In this case, transport distance will impact the CO2 emission and will be the main decisive factor when choosing between reusable and single-use.

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When the reuse cycle requires a cleaning step: For packaging or containers which need more than visual inspection and require a cleaning stage, the process steps need to be taken into consideration: rinsing, washing and consumption of detergent, water and energy. These steps as well as transport distance will impact the decision for reuse versus single use. For these items, the minimum number of reuse cycles in order to create a genuine benefit can drastically increase; not so many companies look at it this way. Between global warming and water scarcity, we need to find the right balance. A preliminary estimation can be made without launching a full LCA every time. Let’s illustrate this issue with the following example to estimate the minimum reuse cycle, for the same product, of a reusable one-litre glass container against a single-use virgin PET container. – Packaging virgin glass 0.813 kgCO2e/kg (source ADEME, scope Europe) – Packaging virgin PET 3.270 kgCO2e/kg (source ADEME, scope France) • Minimum reuses for CO2 emission benefit without transport = 5. • Minimum reuses for CO2 emission benefit with transport = 7 (with 3.5 t van for 20 km); 16 (with 3.5 t van for 60 km) one way and return. • Minimum reuses for water footprint benefit =180 The numbers above are based on CO2 emissions and water footprint of raw materials, transport type CO2 emission per km and per weight and cleaning step emissions per volume. It doesn’t include end of life (even if these two containers can theoretically be recycled). In addition to the minimum number of reuses, it is important to know the tipping point regarding number of cycles before breakage (or any unrepairable damage) of the packaging to confirm the viability of the solution. In conclusion, reuse yes, but not just anywhere and not just anyhow. Preliminary estimation of the number of reuse cycles for a net benefit in terms of CO2 emissions and water footprint should be done before scaling up any solution. n


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