PET Plastic In Food And Beverage Packaging Design
By M. Maritz , V. Eriksson and V. Barnes Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa *email@example.com DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/dsd.2020.83 Abstract This article draws inspiration from two concepts, which initially appear to be at odds with each other. The first refers to the impact that plastics use has had on the environment and human health, while the second explores the prevalence and continued increase in the use of plastic materials. The manufacturing of plastic packaging will be reviewed to identify appropriate intervention. This article focuses on the future development of PET packaging in South Africa, exploring current literature and legislation which aid in the holistic development of the plastic packaging value chain. 1. IntroductionOver the last two decades, user behaviour has become an integral part of plastic packaging design. Initially, plastic packaging was invented as an affordable response to the consumer need for convenience (Macdonald and Vaughan, 2008, p.9). Since the start of the 21st century, the role of plastics has changed. Plastic packaging now must comply with three user categories: it needs to be eco-friendly, financially viable and socially appropriate. Regarding recycling, South Africa proves to be an interesting case study as its recycling system is in direct contrast with Europe. In 2018, South Africa ranked number 10 globally as one of the countries with the worst plastic waste management (d’Ambrières, 2019, p.15). Even though no developed countries are on this list (e.g. Europe), that same year, South Africa recycled 63% of all PET bottles whilst collecting and recycling 46.3% of all other plastic waste. South Africa recycled 15.2% more post-consumer plastic waste than Europe in 2018, making SA a world leader in mechanical recycling (Plastics SA, 2019). Another consideration is the availability of extensive research on plastic waste management in developing countries. According to the systematic literature review, there seems to be very little available literature on how developing countries manage their plastic waste. South Africa is one of the only developing countries with extensive research showing conclusive results. Plastic packaging is currently designed using a linear model, which is based on planned obsolescence (United Nations, 2018, p.9). Short product life cycles are causing plastic packaging to account for half of all plastic waste in the world (Schweitzer et al., 2018a, p.5). The design and manufacturing of plastic packaging must therefore be reviewed - to propose design changes focused on immediate impact - while longer term solutions are implemented (United Nations, 2018, p.6). Hammer and Pivo (2017, p.1) have argued that sustainable development cannot take place without recognising that current development patterns need to change. Carrying on with the same systems can jeopardise the environmental structure of both the planet and economy. For holistic development to take place, it is essential for designers to learn from previous generations (Hammer and Pivo, 2017, p.1). ‘Holistic’ here refers to the key players within the plastic packaging industry working together in order to create a sustainable future. The intention of this article is to highlight challenges and opportunities, through a systematic review of literature, as well as policy and reporting within the context of South Africa. The problems within the plastic packaging industry can only be addressed properly if all facets of the system are considered. This article will present the results from a review of current literature and data, which focuses on user behaviour, packaging design, system design and sustainable development. Although inspiration will be drawn from international studies and the global climate of user behaviour in packaging, the key focus will be on the South African industry. 2. Research approachFor this study, a systematic literature review was used to review current findings and discussions around PET plastic in the food and beverage industries, within the context of South Africa. A systematic literature review is useful when “a general overall picture of the evidence in a topic area is needed to direct future research efforts” (Petticrew and Roberts, 2008, p.21). By asking a specific question, or using a key phrase, the researcher can identify a body of knowledge to work with. A systematic review details all decisions used in compiling, including and excluding articles/ sources – this allows “the reader to gauge for him- or herself the quality of the review process and the potential for bias” (Garg et al., 2008, p.253). For the first analysis, the systematic literature review, the following range of keyword combinations were used when conducting searches: “South Africa and PET and packaging and food” and well as “South Africa and PET and packaging and beverage”. A range of electronic databases were searched (Table 1). Table 1. Databases included in the literature search The range of databases was extensive, as the range of fields which research PET is varied. As the study mainly focussed on current discussions and considerations, journal articles older than 2010 were not deemed appropriate. Additional inclusion criteria were that the final article was accessible in English and available as full text. Peer review was used as an exclusion criteria – this was because the peer review process is a generally accepted indicator of quality – although it is not always reliable. In fact, Jefferson, Wager and Davidoff suggest that it is near impossible to “estimate the effectiveness of the process”, and consequently make any improvements Jefferson et al. (2002, p.2789). The range of identified literature, and exclusions, are detailed in Table 2. As the challenges and opportunities of the PET plastic in the food and beverage industries may also be captured directly by industry, a second phase of analysis was completed - using industry reports and publications issued by relevant organisations and industry watchdogs. The need to include industry findings and reports speaks to an integrated and holistic review of data available. The review of identified journal articles and industry findings are discussed in the context of international trends and findings (discussed as a systematic literature overview). The plastic packaging industry is a vast field which is still being developed and so is the relevant legislation. In combination with academic literature, policy was reviewed to gain a holistic understanding of the context. When selecting applicable legislation and industry documents for this article, only the most current version of legislation and policies in South Africa were selected (currency was thus applied as the main selection criteria). All the international policies which are mentioned, have been used to influence South African policies, regarding the environment and plastic packaging. In 2016, South Africa signed the Paris agreement. The Paris agreement is a legally-binding framework set out by the United Nations. It is an internationally coordinated effort aimed at tackling climate change. Each country which signed the document is obligated to prepare, communicate and maintain successive nationally determined contributions (Adoption of the Paris Agreement, 2015). Table 2. Identified literature and exclusions Plastics SA is the umbrella body which represents the entire value chain of the South African Plastics industry. On 12 August 2016, the South African Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) published a call for Industry (Section 28) to create Waste Management Plans. This call was for all industries within Paper, Packaging, Electrical, Electronic Equipment and Lighting Industries. This call came under sections 28(1) and 28(5) of the National Environmental Management: Waste Act, 2008 (Act no.59 of 2008) (Department of Environmental Affairs, 2016). In response, Plastics SA published an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Plan on 5 September 2018. The EPR plan promotes waste minimisation, re-use, recycling and recovery of all plastic waste (PETCO, 2016). This development plan is completely on par with the current goals of the Paris agreement, showing SA’s willingness and continuous research to move towards sustainable plastic packaging. In July 2019, Plastics SA announced the formation of the South African Alliance. Its main goal is to End Plastic Pollution in the SA Environment. The South African Alliance is compiled of a group of plastics industry role players - that will collaborate on an initiative to ultimately end plastic pollution throughout the value chain. Their first priority is to find sustainable solutions to “single use” plastics. Their main goal is to increase the plastics recycling rate, and ultimately contribute to the National Development Plan (NDP) together with the objectives of the EPR plan (Plastics SA, 2019). The NDP was released by the South African Department of Social Development in 2015. The key objective of the NDP is to create an outline for industry in which people suffering from disabilities can contribute to the growth of South Africa’s economy, thus creating jobs. Through appropriate intervention and legislation, the NDP aims to: raise per capita income and increase the employment rate from 13 million in 2010 to 24 million in 2030 (Department of Social Development, 2015). 3. Literature overview: The challenge in context Papanek’s 1974 book, Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change, the author discusses the designer’s obligation to society and the environment when designing (Papanek, 1995, p.265). Since the 1950’s, more than 42% of all plastics produced globally have been used for packaging (Schweitzer et al., 2018a, p.4). Currently plastic packaging (both rigid and flexible) accounts for one third of the total packaging industry (Foster, 2019). The design and manufacturing of plastic packaging must therefore be reviewed, to propose design changes focussed on immediate impact, while longer term solutions are implemented. It is essential for users to realise that plastic is a valuable resource that can be reused, instead of a disposable material (United Nations, 2018, p.6). The World Commission for the Environment and Development (1987, p.15) defines sustainable development as “…a morally defensible form of economic and social development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet the needs of others”. The sustainable development of a product has implications for the entire value chain from cradle to grave (Lee and Xu, 2005, p.15). The life cycle of food and beverage packaging has 5 stages namely: raw material production, fabrication of the packaging, distribution/transport, post-consumer disposal and recycling (Franklin Associates, 2014, p.5). Typically, only a few packaging and distribution methods are considered when doing a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). Thus, the outcome provides a choice between ‘bad’ and ‘less bad’, irrespective of the implications (Schweitzer et al., 2018b, p.12). The global plastic packaging market will be worth $998 Billion by 2020, indicating 3.5% growth per annum (Foster, 2019). In South Africa alone, the informal job creation within the plastic packaging industry was estimated at 52 300 in 2017 (Hanekom, 2019). These statistics prove that the plastics industry plays an integral part in both the financial and social economy. In order to understand where the most waste takes place in the current system, all stages of plastic packaging needs to be analysed (Hanekom, 2019). This will aid in moving towards closed loop, carbon-neutral production cycles (United Nations, 2018, p.15). With an active user involved, it is important to consider psychology. Gestalt psychology attempts to understand why and how certain user behaviours can be triggered through appropriate patterns and interventions (Wagemans et al., 2012, p.1219). Gestalt principles are applicable to user behavioural design, as gestalt shows the subconscious relationship between the consumer expectation and the designed product. Gestalt principles are based on the idea that the consumer will react to certain products or shapes based on previous experiences (Chang et al., 2002, p.6). Waste management within the packaging industry is based on the knowledge of the user. In a survey done by the UK based Which?, 94% of respondents agreed that the amount of plastic packaging should be reduced, 23% of respondents reiterated that they avoid buying products which they feel are ‘over-packaged’. Another survey by the Industry Council for Research on Packaging proved that 79% of consumers agree that plastic is malevolent and that the products are ‘over packaged’ (Schweitzer et al., 2018a, p.14). These studies prove that consumers believe plastic packaging is bad, without even considering factors like the implication other materials can have on the environment. Currently, bioplastics are being investigated and tested - to find the best possible alternative for petroleum-based plastics (Risch, 2009, p.8091). In the sector of plastic packaging, it is integral for consumers to understand what they are buying and the implications thereof. The terms ‘biodegradable’ & ‘bio-based’ packaging is commonly mistaken for something that can break down naturally and quickly in the natural environment. The majority of biodegradable plastics only biodegrade under high temperatures at incineration plants (United Nations, 2018, p.8). This will allow uninformed consumers to discard ‘biodegradable’ packaging into the natural environment. There have been many alternatives to plastic suggested, but they also introduce a range of new consequences. Currently biodegradable plastics which show the best alternatives to synthetic based single-use plastic packaging include Polylactic Acid (PLA), Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) and Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPS) (United Nations, 2018, p.15). Although they are great alternatives, they can only be recycled with industrial composting or anaerobic digestion facilities. This means PLA, PHA and TPS are only viable in a closed loop system where the packaging waste is well managed, otherwise they will end up in landfills and the natural environment (United Nations, 2018, p.15). These alternatives are only viable if they are managed correctly and if the correct infrastructure is available (Schweitzer et al., 2018a, p.10). Most current bioplastic packaging does not specify the biodegradability or compost-ability of the product. This may lead to uninformed consumers discarding packaging recklessly. These factors reinforce the importance for governments to apply strict labelling policies, to ensure that consumers are educated and informed (United Nations, 2018, p.8). It has been proved that plastic packaging increases shelf life of food, which can in turn reduce food waste. To name one example; it is estimated that the plastic around a cucumber increases its shelf life from 3 to 14 days (Sonesson et al., 2009, p.16). Although proving that plastic shrink wrap increases the shelf life of a product, this research makes no mention of consumer behaviour (Schweitzer et al., 2018a, p.16). 4. Results and discussionFindings from the literature identified through the systematic review offered a limited view of the South African plastics industry. However, they clearly represent a shift in scientific, technical and design driven research towards environmentally-conscious solutions. Between 2000 and 2017, South Africa imported approximately 13.7 Mt of plastics which equated to about 11.6% of plastics consumption in Africa (Babayemi et al., 2019, p.10). Lightweight plastics - which find their way into bodies of water when disposed of in open dump sites - and PET bottles make up the largest percentage of marine litter (Babayemi et al., 2019, p.16). Ways in which PET can be improved, including for the food and beverage packaging, is constantly being researched. These alterations include the addition of thin films to the surface of a PET container (including diamond-like carbon) to increase the barrier performance in relation to gasses (Ray et al., 2017, p.63). The effect that such additions would have, both from a production perspective and from an environmental perspective is not addressed in the findings but does speak to a growing need to understand how PET packaging can be improved to support the life cycle of food and beverage packaging. These studies, in combination with studies exploring the maximum reduction of PET thickness, speak to a growing industry awareness of environmental concerns (Siracusa et al., 2014, p.152). These concerns must be balanced by the need for food to arrive at the point of consumption in a safe and wholesome state. This may include the effects of temperature and light fluctuation as a packaged item travels and is stored in a variety of environments (Aneck-Hahn et al., 2018, p.260). In South Africa, and also globally, PET water bottles offer convenience in a hot climate, and access to water when no other safe source is available. The same is true of other food and beverage packaging examples. Besides only exploring the product itself, literature indicates a review of the production and usage ecosystems. More holistic methodologies are used, such as the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology, to understand the impact of how packaging was used: to review the production, use and impact thereof. For a better understanding of this, it is enough to observe, for instance, that: using low-thickness multilayer films and PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) bottles, respectively for food and beverages packaging, allows for a reduction of the environmental cost due to the phases of transportation to the food production and packaging plant, handling and dismantling...(Siracusa et al., 2014, p.151) When the entire ecosystem is understood, the potential of product design interventions, technologies and new developments - in areas such as bio-based materials - becomes apparent. Even with plastics being more recyclable than ever, one cannot assume that consumers will recycle them. A lack of consumer knowledge and appropriate waste management systems, at local government level, impacts this. The South African government-implemented legislation to lessen the demand for plastic shopping bags, banning thicker bags and charging consumers for the thinner (polythene bags > 30 μm) options had the opposite effect. Instead of reducing the number of bags being used, consumers adjusted and accepted the cost with the demand for plastic steadily increasing in South Africa (Dikgang et al., 2012, quoted in Lam et al., 2018, p.345). In order to pursue sustainability within packaging design, alternative materials should be researched, awareness raised among consumers, plastic products must be properly labelled, and the design of packaging reviewed. The packaging of food and beverages must be considered as individual elements, and as a whole. This means that when one considers the environmental impact of a disposable water bottle, it is critical to analyse the labelling and the PET bottle itself, as well as the marketing strategies, trends and consumer behaviour associated with the life cycle of the product (Sherwood et al., 2017). Design interventions are needed to facilitate better experiences and infrastructure, which would allow the consumer to rethink the way they look at plastic packaging. A new holistic approach needs to be introduced, which encompasses ‘the issues not only of cost, shelf-life, safety and practicality, but also of environmental sustainability’ (Siracusa et al., 2014, p.152). Within South Africa, the plastics recycling industry is based on economic principles. This is in contrast with Europe, where recycling is based on environmental legislation which is enforced by the local government. South Africa relies on manual labour and waste picking, whereas in Europe, the entire system is automated (Plastics SA, 2018). The importance of creating sustainable recycling systems which are tailor-made for different countries are shown in Table 3 (Adapted from Plastics SA, 2019). Table 3. Difference in SA and EU recycling climate In Europe, the user interaction stops after the packaging has been discarded. The post-consumer waste is collected by formal waste management companies (United Nations, 2018, p.8). In South Africa, there are two user interaction phases; consumer and post-consumer interaction. The post-consumer interaction is defined by informal waste pickers and manual sorting centres. Waste pickers represent individuals who are unqualified or unable to find a job. This is where the NDP becomes applicable, the manual sorting and waste picking culture in SA, creates jobs for disabled people. Waste pickers represent the informal employment sector of SA. In 2017, 74% of all plastic materials that were recycled, originated from landfill and post-consumer sources (pickers). In 2017 +/-313780 tons of plastic were collected for recycling, in 2018 +/-519370 tons were collected and recycled. This indicates a growth of 6,7% from 2017-2018 (Plastics SA, 2019). Plastic recycling in SA is continually growing, and has significant financial gain for pickers, as can be seen in Figure 1 (Adapted from Plastics SA, 2019; Hanekom, 2019). Figure 1.Formal & Informal employment in SA plastic packaging An example of the importance of tailor making waste management systems according to specific regions or resources is black plastic containers. In 2015, one of Europe’s largest recycling companies Waste Management confirmed that their equipment generally cannot process black plastic due to equipment limitations. Black plastic is a favourite to use for many quick service restaurants (QSR), and as a result, this causes major concern (MacKerron, 2015, p.21). Whereas in SA, the waste picking culture (informal employment) creates the perfect solution as it can be easily sorted and recycled (Plastics SA, 2019). In the EPR plan published by Plastics SA, they emphasise the importance of the user factor within the plastic packaging economy by using the Ellen Macarthur Foundation Circular economy model. This model can be seen in Figure 2 (Adapted from Plastics SA, 2019; Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2012, p.24).Figure 2 divides the circular economy into three spheres: biosphere, human-sphere and technosphere. The Human-sphere is highlighted as being the most important aspect within the system, showing the importance of taking user behaviours into account when designing. Figure 2.Circular economy model focused on user behaviour 5. Conclusion and outlookThrough doing a systematic literature and policy review, this article analysed the context of the South African PET packaging industry. Taking into consideration the global plastics climate, there is clear legislation and industry reports which prove that SA has pursued the global sustainability targets. Incorporating waste pickers into waste management and recycling programs is socially desirable, economically viable, and environmentally sound. Recommendations for the future development of PET plastic in the food and beverage industry are as follows:1. Reconsider PET plastic production and design in a holistic manner.2. Consider all facets of the system when designing PET packaging.3. Utilise gestalt principles to understand the necessary intervention needed to show what can be achieved by users.4. Combine expertise of different designers and exchange data, to develop sustainable products which cross disciplinary boundaries.5. Study supporting alternative materials and create legislation that is enforced by the local government.6. 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Researchers to teach robots how to differentiate between sandwich ingredients so they can make your favourite BLT
Loughborough University computer scientists have teamed up with a food production automation company for a project that looks to teach AI robots how to differentiate between food items so they can make sandwiches in real-world factory environments. Project lead Dr Baihua Li, of the School of Science, hopes the research with Millitec Food Systems will “empower a range of new automation functions on food production conveyors and pipelines”. Food manufacturing is the largest manufacturing industry within Europe, but the industry faces major problems with labour supply due to increased costs and a shortage of workers willing to undertake less-skilled roles. Millitec supplies hi-tech manufacturing machinery and a range of robotic products for food production automation that look to plug this gap in the industry. It has developed a range of technology that can assemble and pack sandwiches, with the intention of reducing intensive labour work required on production conveyors. Their current sandwich-assemblers are able to assist in the sandwich-making process – for example, they can butter bread and cut sandwiches – but they are unable to undertake tasks that require them to differentiate between items, such as selecting salad toppings to put inside a sandwich. The project with Loughborough University looks to take the robotic technology to the next level of intelligence. Dr Li and her team of researchers are to develop machine vision and embedded artificial intelligence (AI) technology for the robot manipulators that will enable them to recognise a variety of items and carry out more advanced tasks such as picking up the right elements in the right amount and order. They will investigate using a low-cost reliable camera and sensing system on Millitec’s ‘Delta robots', which, in essence, will allow the machines to ‘see’. They will then develop algorithms that train the robots to recognise various breads and food ingredients, and accurately detect their location and orientation. The academics will create the algorithms using ‘deep learning’ – a method of teaching a machine how to carry out tasks automatically without explicit human instructions. This involves collecting thousands of images and getting a computer system to analyse them, so it learns what different items look like. As well as being taught how to identify food items, the Millitec robots will be trained to spot and deal with errors on production conveyors, such as missing ingredients or items in the wrong position. The developed technology will be deployed as an embedded system on Millitec’s existing automation machines, meaning the prepacked sandwich you purchase from the petrol station in the near future could have been made from start to finish by robots. The machines will be taught how to differentiate between different food items – meaning one day the sandwich you purchase may have been prepared entirely by robots. Photo by Sara Cervera on Unsplash Dr Li commented: “Loughborough's Computer Science department has a solid track record and expertise in AI. “Industry presents new challenges to our research and this project will deal with various challenges in real-world factory conditions and meet the commercial requirements in accuracy, safety and speed. “The developed robust vision algorithms and camera-based sensing system will also reduce the system manufacturing cost. “We will transfer the latest advances of our research in machine vision, deep learning and robotics to drive innovation for high care food manufacturing. “Successful development and commercialisation of the robotics system will significantly reduce the human workforce and improve production quality and efficiency, allowing employees to focus on higher-value activities.” Richard Ledger, Managing Director of Millitec, said: “We’re thrilled to be developing the latest range of food production robotics in conjunction with Loughborough University. “Throughout our 15 years in the industry, we have seen the challenges presented by skills shortages, and a clear need for a technological solution to support food manufacturers. “This development project will be a major leap forward in food production automation.” This research is a 24-month KTP (Knowledge Transfer Partnership)* project, jointly funded by Millitec and Innovate UK. KTPs aim to help businesses improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK knowledge base. For further information on Loughborough University’s Computer Science department, click here. Reference: *Knowledge Transfer Partnerships Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) are funded by UKRI through Innovate UK with the support of co-funders, including the Scottish Funding Council, Welsh Government, Invest Northern Ireland, Defra and BEIS. Innovate UK manages the KTP programme and facilitates its delivery through a range of partners including the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), Knowledge Bases and Businesses. Each partner plays a specific role in the support and delivery of the programme. Loughborough University Loughborough University is equipped with a live in-house broadcast unit via the Globelynx network. To arrange an interview with one of our experts please contact the press office on 01509 223491. Bookings can be made online via www.globelynx.com Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines. It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2019 QS World University Rankings, University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2019 and top in the country for its student experience in the 2018 THE Student Experience Survey. Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 4th in the Guardian University League Table 2020, 5th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019 and 8th in The UK Complete University Guide 2020. Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes. The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking. Loughborough staff, students and alumni make a real difference. They challenge convention, think creatively and find solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing society today and in the future. Meet the #LboroGameChangers at lboro.ac.uk/lborogamechangers Article source:https://www.lboro.ac.uk/media-centre/press-releases/2020/january/robotic-sandwich-making-project/
Importance of Developing Sustainable Food Packaging
By Carol Wiley “Sustainability has become one of the biggest issues in food and beverage today—and packaging is a key component of the move toward sustainable business practices,” states the 2020 Sustainable Packaging Report from Winsight Grocery. “Sustainable packaging is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have for any brands looking to future-proof their operations against the rising tide of consumer scrutiny,” statesSustainable Packaging Unwrapped, a 2019 report from GlobalWebIndex. CPG leaders identified concerns about plastic and packaging waste as the second-most likely issue they believed would affect their businesses in 2020, according to Industry View 2020 from the Consumer Brands Association. CBA also reports all 25 of the largest CPG companies have committed to increasing recyclable content, reducing packaging, or reusing material. Eighty percent of those companies are working toward fully recyclable packaging for all products within the next 10 years. What is sustainable packaging? Although sustainable can be defined in a number of ways, the Sustainable Packaging Coalition has a vision for sustainable packaging that meets the following criteria: Is beneficial, safe, and healthy for individuals and communities throughout the packaging’s life cycle Meets market criteria for performance and cost Is sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy Optimizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials Is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices Is made from materials healthy throughout the life cycle Is physically designed to optimize materials and energy Is effectively recovered and used in biological and/or industrial closed loop cycles What do consumers want? GlobalWebIndex asked consumers in the U.S. and UK what’s most important to them when it comes to environmentally friendly packaging. Here’s what they said: 64% want recyclable 53% want reusable 46% want products that don’t overpackage 39% want compostable/biodegradable 36% want packaging made from renewable sources 35% want packaging that makes it easy to separate different materials for disposal Also, over 50% of consumers told GlobalWebIndex they had reduced the amount of disposable plastic they used in the last 12 months. While consumers now prefer materials made from recycled goods that can also be recycled, “the next frontier of sustainability is the biodegradable and compostable markets,” according to 2019 Trends and Advances in Food Packaging and Processing from PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies. Where are companies going with package sustainability? “Statistics on sustainable packaging from leading industry sources paint a picture of an industry striving for change,” states the 2020 Sustainable Packaging Report. In a recent Packaging Digest article, Tristanne Davis, senior manager with the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, laid out five trends she sees for 2020: More companies announce sustainable packaging goals and create action plans. Companies find ways to increase end markets for recycled plastics. Brands replace substrates to meet recovery goals — for example, paper-based solutions. Companies look at reusable packaging more seriously. Material health becomes more important — in particular, more efforts to reduce per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Developing sustainable packaging is a challenge for food companies that also need to keep their products fresh and safe while making a profit. However, it’s a challenge more companies will have to meet in this evolving world. Orign source: https://foodindustryexecutive.com/2020/03/importance-of-developing-sustainable-food-packaging/
FEFCO “unboxes” the future of sustainable Corrugated Cardboard
On 6th July 2020, FEFCO co-hosted a virtual panel with Politico “Unwrapping the future of sustainable packaging?” was the theme of the debate which attracted an outstanding number of 2700 unique viewers, demonstrating that the sustainability of packaging is an issue of great interest. Among the event’s panellists were Johanna Drake, Deputy Director General, DG Environment, European Commission; Dr Christoph Epping, Head of Directorate, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany; Outi Marin, Head of Sustainability reporting, Smurfit Kappa Group representing industry, and Piotr Barczak, Senior Policy Officer for Waste, European Environmental Bureau. The discussion was moderated by Eline Schaart, a sustainability reporter at Politico. The virtual panel touched upon many topics such as the EU Commission’s Circular Economy Action Plan and its objectives to prevent waste. Johanna Drake made the point that “we need to continue being smarter in terms of packaging innovation to make it more recyclable and more reusable.” Exchanges of views then continued, covering other topics related to the design of packaging, the role of EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility), how consumers are involved, the implementation of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive and the tax on plastics. Speakers also debated how businesses could be incentivised. One proposed option was to encourage producers to consider the end of life of a product from the design phase which could accelerate the transition to a greener economy. During the coronavirus pandemic, packaging has been recognised for its essential role, and the consumers receiving orders at home have become more aware of the vital function packaging plays. At the event, panellists believed that it was the right moment to work together to find innovative and fit-for-purpose solutions that can respond to the increasing need for sustainability. Outi Marin, the panellist from the industry, stressed that “packaging has multiple functions: to protect packaged goods from damage and theft and to support logistics and fraud. Packaging also has a significant role in the way we communicate with the consumer regarding content but also by creating interaction. In the end, the most sustainable packaging is the one that gets the product sold.” During the event, the audience responded to several polls which showed that what is needed to make packaging more sustainable is to reduce the complexity of materials and products. This is something corrugated is really good at! Have a look at the results of one poll: In his closing remarks, Fady Gemayel, FEFCO President, thanked the speakers and organisers and wrapped up the debate by reminding the audience of the unique sustainable benefits of Corrugated packaging. One of the important points he made was that “Corrugated Cardboard is an example for sustainable circular packaging as it is made on average from 89% recycled paper. Corrugated is also an active player of the bioeconomy.” He added that “Corrugated already has established structures in place for efficient recycling that allows for the highest recycling rates of all materials. We are best in class!" Finally, he welcomed the fact that “EU institutions have recognised the need for a sustainable economy, and we are happy that we can support this process by producing a real sustainable product.” For the full digital event and the chance to make up your own mind about what a sustainable packaging is, you can watch the recording of this engaging discussion on the event page: https://www.politico.eu/event/future-of-packaging/. And have a look at the online discussion by using the event hashtag #FutureOfPackaging
New Proseal Innovation Provides Revolutionary Tray- Positioning Solution
Tray sealing specialist Proseal has launched a revolutionary tray positioning system - the first of its kind - that calculates the required tray-spacing set-up parameters for individual tray sealing tool-sets, eliminating the trial and error usually associated with this process. The new patent-pending ProPosition™ feature automatically identifies the best position for trays, to ensure the perfect alignment every time. Its advanced technology provides food manufacturers and processors with a simple one-step tool-set-up, and removes the time consuming and potentially wasteful process of running test trays through the tray sealer to ascertain the best position. Instead operators are guided through the set-up via easy to follow animated instructions on the machine’s touch screen. The system then permanently saves the relevant parameters for each tool, which greatly speeds up product changeovers and avoids operator errors during set-up. ProPosition is fitted as standard to all new Proseal GT platform machines. Additionally, as part of Proseal’s ongoing strategy of futureproofing its equipment, the software can be retrofitted to any pre-existing machines which have the suffix GTe and GTs. “The new ProPosition system showcases our incredible engineering innovation and underlines Proseal’s commitment to being at the forefront of product development and innovation,” comments Paul Watkin, Proseal Systems Development Manager. “This pioneering technology helps to minimise downtime, reduce errors and minimise waste to deliver valuable cost savings that will deliver a fast return on investment.” Founded in 1998, Proseal designs and manufactures high quality tray sealing machines, conveyor systems and sealing tools for food industry markets worldwide. Proseal is part of the JBT family, and together they remain committed to continually supporting customers’ needs.
Complete Packing Solution For Dried Fruit Snacks
A complete packing line solution from Ishida Europe has enabled an entrepreneurial French company to automate and bring in-house the packing of its dehydrated fruit and vegetable snacks, with the ability to increase throughput six-fold. Il Était Un Fruit, based in Montpellier, was founded in 2014 by Laure Vidal, who wanted to ensure her children were able to eat the required five portions of fruit and vegetables each day. She devised a means of drying seasonal fruits from the region, such as apples, pears, strawberries and apricots. In 2016, the company raised €1.2m to support its commercial development, including investment in equipment to industrialise the process. Further investment is planned for 2020. In addition, in 2019 the product offering was diversified with the introduction of dried sliced vegetables, including a special Apéritif range. Il Était Un Fruit’s products are sold in a variety of bag sizes for the retail sector – 10, 15, 30, 50 and 80g – as well as 1 and 2kg bags for specialist retail companies. With the many different fruit and vegetable varieties, this equates to around 40 different product lines, requiring a fast and flexible weighing and bagging solution. Initially the company contracted out its packing operation but when the decision was made to take it in-house, Ishida was selected for its ability to provide a complete solution for which it had total responsibility, as well as the company’s reputation for accurate weighing and reliable after-sales service. The Ishida designed line comprises a 14 head CCW-RV multihead weigher mounted directly over an Astro 103S vertical bagmaker, which provides a compact and space-efficient combination, together with a DACS-GN-SE-012 checkweigher with integrated CEIA metal detector. The RV-214 weigher incorporates a special C4 coating which prevents product sticking to the contact parts. This ensures a consistent flow of the dried fruit and vegetables throughout the weigher. Thirteen of the weighing heads are dedicated to the main ingredient, such as apple, while a small quantity of a second, high value item, for example fig, is manually fed into the fourteenth head and weighed. Once this individual ingredient has been weighed, the weigher combines it with the main product, delivering accuracy to within 0.02g of the target weight. The intermittent motion Astro bagmaker features servo motors and software controlled variable seal time, jaw temperature and pressure to ensure a high level of precision. Stripping plates clear the seal area before sealing which ensures good pack quality and servo driven and vacuum assisted pull down belts enable accurate and consistent bag lengths to maximise film use and optimise pack presentation. Nitrogen gas flushing is used to support the preservation and freshness of products that are naturally susceptible to air (oxygen) degrading the product, giving an ambient shelf life of around six to ten months depending on the product. The weigher and bagmaker combination is currently running at 30 bags per minute on a 30g pack, well within its top speed of 70 packs per minute. The DACS checkweigher and integrated metal detector provides a final quality and weight check. Rejected packs are directed into two separate containers, depending on whether they are non-compliant in terms of weight or contain foreign bodies. The checkweigher features an intuitive and robust display with an easy to learn menu structure that ensures quick and easy set up and is fully compliant with the European directive on measuring instruments. The checkweigher’s open frame design ensures easy cleaning and maintenance, including a complete washdown of the line every week. “We are pleased with our investment,” comments Nicolas Rey, industrial director at Il Était Un Fruit. “The various machines have all lived up to their expectation, while Ishida’s after-sales service is quick to react if there is a problem. We are currently producing one million bags a year but are confident we can continue to grow because the line can cope with up to six million bags a year.” Il Était Un Fruit Il Était Un Fruit has developed a special technique for the drying of fruit and vegetables with no added sugar, additives or preservatives. The fruit is sourced from eco-responsible orchards and organic fruit and vegetables are Ecocert certified. 95% of the fruit and vegetables are supplied by local growers in the Occitanie region. The products are washed in water, disinfected, peeled, diced and then dried using a patented drying method developed in partnership with the CIRAD (French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development). The new Apéritif range has been developed in association with leading French chef Gérard Cabiron, recipient of the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France.
ProPak China 2020 – A Powerful Business Enabler for Processing and Packaging Maret in Asia
Publishing Area：Shanghai, China
SHANGHAI, April 2020 As the premier processing and packaging event for China, ProPak China 2020, the 26th International Processing & Packaging Exhibition will take place at the National Exhibition Convention Center Shanghai (NECC) from 25 to 27 November 2020. It offers solutions on food processing, packaging, labelling, weighing, printing, logistics, automation, containers and materials to food, beverage, dairy, confectionery, bakery, condiment, FMCG, pharmaceutical, personal care, cosmetic, home appliance and 3C, e-commerce, courier and other industries. Various highlighted events held concurrently Alongside with trade fairs covering the entire industry value chain including FoodPack China, Health Ingredients China, Food Ingredients Asia-China, Healthplex and Natural & Nutraceutical Products China, and Starch Expo, ProPak China 2020 will build an ideal platform for industry professionals to connect with their target markets, showcase their brands to decision makers and network with the industry buyers that matter most. The joint exhibition is estimated to attract more than 2,000 leading exhibitors and 100,000 trade buyers from across the globe and cover a record-breaking floor space of 200,000 sqm. And this event will also provide participants with opportunities to observe machinery in action and at full scale, explore multiple approaches to solving production and packaging challenges, discover packaging ideas from other industries and grow their network by connecting with insiders who are active in the processing and packaging industries In addition, on-site demonstrations from reputable enterprises together with a valued-added visit offered by various forums and technical seminars make it the must attend event of this year. Renowned experts will speak about the latest topics and challenges facing processing and packaging and its applications during the forum including snack food processing and packaging, smart packaging and automation trend, beverage packaging and more. Tap the flourishing Asia market ProPak China is organised by Sinoexpo Informa Markets (Former UBM Sinoexpo), a joint venture between Shanghai Sinoexpo International Exhibition Ltd and Informa PLC. As the world’s leading exhibitions organizer, Informa Markets creates platforms for industries and specialist markets to trade, innovate and grow. Its portfolio is comprised of more than 550 international B2B events and brands. With the expertise in operating events and exhibitions and global network in a diverse range of industries, ProPak China 2020 will help you unlock opportunities to tap the flourishing Asia market. For more information, please visit www.propakchina.com Contact us: Space Booking Ms. Vicky Leung (Asia & China) Sinoexpo Informa Markets Tel: +86 131 4389 6198 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Mr. Marek Szandrowski (Worldwide) Informa Markets Tel: +44 (0)20 7560 4321 Email: email@example.com Visitor Enquiry Mr. Spric Tian Sinoexpo Informa Markets Tel: +86-21-3339 2260 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Essentra Launches ‘industry First’ Recycled PET Tear Tape
Essentra Tapes has launched the first tear tape for flexible packaging to combine the sustainability of recycled polyester (rPET) alongside the benefits of easy-opening and brand enhancement. Responding to both consumer demand for packaging sustainability and the latest legislative requirements for recycled content, the new SupaStrip® PCR is made from rPET and contains 70 percent post-consumer resin (PCR) in a single ply, 23micron film. Using recycled content supports a circular system where plastic is kept in the economy and out of the natural environment and is in line with the latest roadmap outlined by The UK Plastics Pact. Like all Essentra tear tape solutions, SupaStrip PCR is easy to implement within flexible packaging lines and intuitive to use, providing fast, safe, and immediate access to the contents. In addition, the ability to print the tape allows a diverse range of brand messages and logos to be added for enhanced on-shelf impact and consumer interaction. Ian Beresford, head of marketing and development for Essentra, said: “Research has shown that consumers are positively influenced by solutions using recycled content in plastic. The addition of SupaStrip PCR to our range is another step on our sustainability journey and cements our commitment to providing customers with environmental packaging solutions without compromising on product performance.” SupaStrip PCR is ideally suited for PET based packaging films, making it the perfect partner for bottles and shrink sleeves where the use of one material type creates a simple recycling route for consumers. Equally important, the tape builds on the growing demand consumers have not just for packaging functionality, but also for brand integrity. As well as ensuring ease of opening, using SupaStrip PCR means knives or other sharp implements are removed from the process thereby minimising the risk of product damage and possible personal injury. At the same time, the tamper-evident nature of tear tape gives a clear indication if a product has been opened previously, providing customer confidence in the goods they buy. The innovation team at Essentra Tapes has focused its development work on ensuring that the inclusion of recycled material in SupaStrip PCR still delivers the same easy opening and branding functionality available from the company’s other tapes. “SupaStrip PCR offers all the performance benefits users expect from the SupaStrip range, but with a greener footprint,” concluded Ian. “We are particularly proud to launch this latest tape as it perfectly demonstrates the sustainability advances that we have made at Essentra, delivering both functionality and environmental advantages for brands and consumers alike.” ABOUT ESSENTRA TAPES https://www.essentra.com/en/capabilities/tapes Essentra Tapes is part of Essentra plc and is a global provider of tapes that deliver benefits to consumers, combining easy opening and closing for a wide range of products with creative design & print to deliver brand communication and protection - all promoted under four core themes of Open, Close, Inform and Protect. Significant experience in the field of security technologies also enables us to combine overt and covert security into our tapes to protect brands and products. Supported by a global manufacturing base, in-house design studio, R&D facilities and multi-million-pound print facilities, Essentra Tapes is positioned to deliver the very best in quality, service and reliability to help make customers’ and consumers’ lives easier.
Chemical recycling makes useful product from waste bioplastic
A faster, more efficient way of recycling plant-based “bioplastics” has been developed by a team of scientists at the Universities of Bath and Birmingham. Published on Thursday 21 May 2020 The team has shown how their chemical recycling method not only speeds up the process, it can also be converted into a new product – a biodegradable solvent – which can be sold for use in a wide variety of industries including cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Bioplastics, made from polylactic acid (PLA), are becoming increasingly common in products such as disposable cups, packaging materials and even children’s toys. Typically, once they reach the end of their useful life, they are disposed of in landfill or composted, biodegrading over periods of up to several months. In a new study, researchers have shown that a chemical process, using a zinc-based catalyst developed at the University of Bath and methanol, can be used to break down real consumer plastics and produce the green solvent, called methyl lactate. Their results are published in the journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research. The team tested their method on three separate PLA products– a disposable cup, some 3D printer waste, and a children’s toy. They found the cup was most easily converted to methyl lactate at lower temperatures, but even the bulkier plastic in the children’s toy could be converted using higher temperatures. Professor Matthew Jones from the University of Bath’s Centre for Sustainable & Circular Technologies said: “It is exciting to see our catalysts being used for real materials from a variety of different applications. It is great to see that our catalysts are stable to additives in the polymer.” Lead researcher Professor Joe Wood, at the University of Birmingham, said: “The process we’ve designed has real potential to contribute to ongoing efforts to reduce the amount of plastic going into landfill or being incinerated creating new valuable products from waste. “Our technique breaks down the plastics into their chemical building blocks before ‘rebuilding’ them into a new product, so we can guarantee that the new product is of sufficiently high quality for use in other products and processes.” The chemical process has been tried up to 300 ml, so next steps would include scaling up the reactor further before it can be used in an industrial setting. The research was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Luis A Román-Ramírez, Paul McKeown, Chanak Shah, Joshua Abraham, Matthew D Jones and Joseph Wood (2020) “Chemical Degradation of end-of-life Poly(lactic acid) into Methyl Lactate by a Zn(II) Complex” is published in Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research. DOI: 10.1021/acs.iecr.0c01122 Origin source: University of Bath, https://www.bath.ac.uk/announcements/chemical-recycling-makes-useful-product-from-waste-bioplastic/
Sustainability Shifts: Three Consumer Trends Brewing
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tuesday, May 19, 2020 – While not mainstream quite yet, three pandemic-era consumer trends are bubbling just beneath the surface and set for significant growth, according to new online ethnography research that monitors millions of conversations in real time. Regardless of the topic, consumers are looking to the food industry to find sustainable solutions using technology. “The dominant motivation driving the consumer here is this notion of overcoming human limitation through technological innovation,” said Ujwal Arkalgud, chief executive officer of MotivBase, a big data ethnography research company, and member of The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) Consumer Trust Insights Council. Pre-pandemic the sustainability conversation was peppered with criticism about large corporations and their profit motives, he said. “That sentiment is now taking a backseat as online conversations revolve around the use of technology for the betterment of the food system, particularly as it relates to the supply chain.” Three emerging trends Shortening the supply chain, which has been crippled as a result of the pandemic, is the most dominant of three emerging trends that help us understand the current consumer psyche, he said. Arkalgud shared his insights as one of three panelists during a recent CFI webcast on shifting sustainability priorities. Consumers are talking about “food miles,” a term Arkalgud said is “something we haven’t seen in the consumer language. They want to buy foods that potentially travel shorter distances.” While the conversation is happening among early adopters, those at the front end of the adoption curve, the number of people talking about this issue is expected to grow by nearly 50 percent over the next 48 months. A topic that once was confusing is now accelerating and gaining understanding. The second emerging conversation is around hydroponics and vertical farming as sustainable solutions. While there has been online chatter about both to some extent, they are coming into increased focus, particularly in terms of leveraging the technology to improve taste.“We’re seeing more discourse now in the mainstream media and more consumerssharing these types of articles.” Currently in the U.S. 17-million people are engaged in this conversation, a “relatively tiny segment,” said Arkalgud. “What’s interesting is the growth in consumers’ knowledge about this. We’re predicting this topic of hydroponics to be relevant to an additional 10-million consumers in the next two years.” Finally, lab-cultured meat is gaining traction primarily as a means to reduce the environmental impact of traditional animal agriculture, as well as to solve for the concerns around animal welfare. “While there is plenty of growth in the conversation around this topic, it is one that exhibits the most amount of volatility, suggesting that consumers are still quite hesitant about the idea of consuming meat produced in a lab,” he said. Innovation and acceptance All three are seeing growth so now is the time for the food system to step forward with innovation solutions that can address the emerging needs “Consumers want to advocate for solutions that are scientifically driven,” he said. Whether consumers accept or reject innovation going forward largely depends on how its brought to market by food and agriculture, according to Charlie Arnot, CFI CEO. “As we think about shifting sustainability priorities, particularly when it comes to consumers’ new appetite for technology solutions, it’s important for the food system to engage early and often in transparent conversations about how technology benefits people, animals and our planet, not just the food industry,” said Arnot. “Often the conversation revolves around technology as it relates to productivity and efficiency. While that’s important, consumers want to know about the greater societal benefit.” Arnot encourages the food industry to acknowledge the risks and challenges, as well. Authentic transparency is the most effective strategy to build trust, he said. Strategic approach It’s anticipated that pressure from groups with sustainability demands will come back even stronger once the pandemic subsides. Arnot warns against making knee-jerk sustainability decisions and caving to demands that are deemed sustainable, but may fall short. Instead, approach sustainability carefully and strategically. “The first step is setting priorities based on company values and those of its stakeholders; defining values provides a framework from which to make all decisions going forward,” said Arnot. If a proposed change falls within the values framework it should be considered. If it falls outside, it’s discarded – a non-negotiable.” Next, conduct a comprehensive assessment of the potential impacts of recommended changes on the company, itssupply chain and consumers. “Understanding the tradeoffs is a critical step and can take some time, but it’s worth the investment,” he said. “Leave no stone unturned.” Finally, with values as the foundation, communicate sustainability decisions to both the group making the request and the public in a way that’s transparent and earns trust. “If you’ve done your research, you can confidently justify any decision that speaks to your commitment to topics like food safety, worker safety, animal well-being and environmental stewardship,” said Arnot. For more information, visit www.foodintegrity.org. To access the sustainability webinar, visit www.optimizingsustainability.org. The Center for Food Integrity is a not-for-profit organization that helps today’s food system earn consumer trust. Its members and project partners, who represent the diversity of the food system, are committed to providing accurate information and working together to address important issues in food and agriculture. The Center does not lobby or advocate for individual companies or brands. For more information, visit www.foodintegrity.org.
Winkworth Claim Hygienic Mixer/Extruder Design Is A World's First
As the result of an intensive 3-year design programme, Winkworth, the UK’s leading designer and manufacturer of industrial mixing and blending machinery, says that it has produced the world’s most hygienic kneader mixer extruder machine to suit the most demanding application requirements. Built to match a client’s exacting needs: high-powered, totally reliable and in a compact design which could be fully integrated within ancillary equipment, the machine also had to be cross-contamination free. For this particular application, a high level of automation was also demanded, covering full control of the mixing process, precision and control of the blade and screw speeds, full integration with inlet systems, mixing durations, vacuum levels and duration, temperature control, zone management during mixing and, critically, during discharge. “Machine cleaning requirements vary from machine to machine and applications – some permit wet washing and CIP (cleaning in place) approaches, other strictly forbid liquids,” said Winkworth’s managing director, Grant Jamieson. “Designing and building a machine as complex as this was in itself a challenge, but with the product to be mixed being ‘sticky’ by definition, this added a further challenge as this was to be a strictly ‘no liquids’ cleaning procedure.” Despite the need for all product contact services to be cleaned between formulas, downtime due to cleaning had to be minimised. To meet this requirement, the machine has been designed to the latest pharmaceutical GMP standards – more stringent, though similar to EHEDG – which supports a simple yet effective independent verification of ‘clean’. Providing access to allow ergonomic safe cleaning behaviours was critical, the human factors of reach, touch, line of sight, lifting, pulling, pressing and trip hazards – all were considered. To facilitate these requirements, the machine is fully retractable, thus allowing kneader blade access. Simultaneously the extruder screw is retracted, allowing full 360° access to the screw itself. A pivoting, hinged, non-drive end door to the mixer chamber, allows full access from the end of the mixer chamber and full access to the inside surfaces. Closure after cleaning and inspection is an automated reversal of opening, allowing for a fast and verifiable process that promotes high levels of productivity. All of this operation is fully automated using electrics, hydraulics, pneumatics and optical control sensors with safety guards, incorporating proximity sensors, fitted to verify safety systems are intact. “I’m very proud of the quality demonstrated throughout this project and the strategic relationship we have developed with our client. The result is a super-efficient machine, having an unprecedented level of automation that is capable of being cleaned in a fraction of the cleaning times of similar machines, thereby providing total confidence in the efficacy of the hygiene process. Incorporating several innovative design features, the machine is certainly state-of-the-art and one of three supplied so far. It will provide our client with a totally dependable solution for decades to come,” concluded Jamieson.
The circular economy in packaging technology
The requirements placed on food packaging are immense. It needs to provide protection while simultaneously conveying the brand image, be tightly sealed yet easy to open, and create a reliable barrier while also being breathable when required. During the production process, it must also enable high-speed food packaging while of course remaining cost efficient. Decades of research and development have gone into tackling these diverse tasks. In recent years, the demand for sustainability has become huge. New packaging solutions need to be developed as soon as possible. They need to meet the same requirements as conventional packaging without burdening the environment or the purse. Syntegon Technology, formerly Bosch Packaging Technology, has set itself this Herculean task, which it is tackling in cooperation with all supply chain participants. On the road to sustainable packaging solutions, the “circular economy” is pointing the way. This approach seeks to close energy and material cycles through the efficient use of resources, recycling and waste reduction. The aim is to achieve a sustainable improvement in environmental and climate protection. With this goal in mind, the EU passed the Circular Economy Act in 2012. The core of this legislation is a five-level hierarchy of waste, which helps to consistently orient the circular economy towards waste avoidance and recycling. It defines a sequence of waste avoidance, reuse, recycling and waste recovery (including energy recovery) and finally waste disposal. In each case, the most environmentally friendly option has priority. Syntegon Technology has set itself the goal of making a contribution to sustainability through its packaging solutions. This calls for collaboration with customers as well as packaging material manufacturers and suppliers, which Syntegon Technology sees as part of the solution. In concrete terms, the aim is to make both the packaging itself and the packaging process more sustainable. This includes, in particular, the development of machines that can process new, more environmentally friendly packaging materials. Syntegon Technology has developed a number of solutions with customers that target the first three stages of the waste hierarchy: waste avoidance, preparation for recovery, and recycling. The hierarchy of waste forms part of the EU Circular Economy Act (2012). Stage 1 – Avoidance: no product and material waste Packaging requirements are not necessarily at odds with sustainability. Primary and transport packaging offer product protection, and therefore contribute to sustainability by preventing food spoilage or waste during transport. An optimized packaging process also helps to prevent product waste. During necessary downtime for cleaning or format changes, batches can spoil and have to be disposed of. Minimizing downtime thanks to easier cleaning and faster format changeovers helps to reduce waste. In addition, more efficient production processes also mean resources such as energy and water are used more efficiently. The new blank feeding motion of the Elematic 2001 case packer can even accommodate blanks that have been bent by moisture and changing temperatures. As a result, fewer blanks need to be thrown away, which contributes to more sustainable production processes. Optimizing machines can also help to reduce the amount of packaging material. The continuous development of sealing technologies is already doing its bit. Thanks to technological advances, thinner films can now be used while packs can be sealed more tightly around the product. This helps to reduce the amount of material used. Syntegon Technology has also developed cartoners and case packers that are more material-efficient thanks to higher tolerances. These include systems that can process slightly bent cardboard blanks or those made from recycled material. This wider tolerance range means that blanks are now being processed that would previously have been discarded as rejects by the machine. Efficiently designed secondary packaging and outer packaging also helps to minimize transport costs. According to Olivier Cottard, Head of Industries Business Units at DS Smith Packaging, shrinking standard secondary packaging by 5mm reduces shipping requirements by 20 truckloads per year. This results in carbon emissions savings of 100 metric tons as well as significant cost savings. Put differently, the carbon emissions savings are equivalent to the amount of carbon absorbed by 2,500 conifer seedlings in 10 years. Waste prevention also involves replacing environmentally harmful packaging materials with more environmentally friendly options such as using paper instead of plastic. Paper or cardboard already account for around 65 percent of all packaging, but the application possibilities for paper in primary packaging are far from exhausted. Syntegon Technology is currently working on making conventional plastic packaging solutions usable with paper as well. Up to now, using monomaterial paper for packaging has only been possible with glued, prefabricated bags or glued paper packaging produced using pinwheel technology. In collaboration with the paper manufacturer BillerudKorsnäs Syntegon Technology, formerly Bosch Packaging Technology, has developed a solution to securely package and seal food in monomaterial paper using vertical baggers. This pioneering sealed paper packaging is suitable for dry foods such as sugar, pasta, cereals and powders without compromising on product protection and dust tightness. Thanks to the use of FSC- or PEFC-certified paper, the sustainable characteristics are maintained from the raw material through to recycling – fully in keeping with the principles of the circular economy. Even specially shaped and optimally dimensioned small paper pods can contribute to a more sustainable future by replacing plastic sleeves. Recently, the new “Pearl” packaging concept was developed together with BillerudKorsnäs. The patented 3D-formable paper can be processed into creative and sustainable packaging solutions on Syntegon Technology machines. This further reduces the amount of plastic used. The demand for this type of packaging solution is already high, meaning that more of it will soon be appearing on supermarket shelves. Stage 2 – Preparation for recycling: long-lasting quality and good service For packaging machine manufacturers, recycling also means preventing machinery already in circulation from becoming obsolete prematurely. In this regard, a comprehensive retrofitting program and appropriate service support are the decisive factors. Syntegon Technology offers its customers the option of upgrading existing machines so they can handle more sustainable packaging materials. This includes comprehensive customer-specific tests for new packaging materials as well as the necessary upgrade kits. Furthermore, Syntegon Technology offers to overhaul their customers’ equipment and thus considerably extend their life cycle. Stage 3 – Design for recycling In the field of plastic packaging, the trend is increasingly moving towards using monomaterial wherever possible; in other words, preparing the packaging material for recycling within an available recycling stream. This poses challenges for the composition and processing of the packaging material. Multi-layer films assign different tasks, such as barrier protection, sealing or printing to individual layers made from different materials. These multi-layer films are not homogenous and cannot be separated in the recycling process because they consist of several plastics. In many cases, the only option is thermal recovery. Monomaterial packaging – even if it consists of several layers of the same material – will have to do all the work on its own. This may mean that previous assumptions, for example regarding shelf life, need to be reconsidered or that new, optimized processes in the supply chain will need to compensate for shorter shelf lives. When it comes to recycling, however, things are much simpler: the monomaterial can be directly fed into the recycling stream and be fully recycled. Another challenge is that consumers cannot immediately tell the difference between recyclable monomaterial and multi-layer film. Food manufacturers would do well to take this into account when designing their packaging and, if necessary, to print additional information on the pack or make it available via QR code. Syntegon Technology already offers proven track and trace solutions, whereby a QR code is linked to additional consumer information. Many research projects are devoted to the development of bio-based and biodegradable plastics that meet the requirements of food packaging. Compared to conventional plastics, so-called drop-in bioplastics, such as bio-PE (polyethylene) and bio-PET (polyethylene terephthalate), have a better carbon footprint as they are made from renewable raw materials. Because they have the same chemical structure as conventional plastics, they can be processed into end products using the same machines and processes. Biodegradable plastics offer advantages if they can be decomposed easily by microorganisms. The use of these compostable materials is especially beneficial when product remains and packaging are disposed of together. This for instance applies to coffee capsules or tea bags. Sustainable packaging is certainly a sales argument, as it can increase both revenue and customer loyalty. Today’s consumers want to avoid material waste as much as possible and prefer biodegradable or recyclable packaging materials. According to a global retail survey conducted by Nielsen, 55 percent of online consumers in 60 countries are willing to pay more for products if the companies involved are committed to positive social and environmental change. Circular economy by uniting everyone involved in the supply chain Machine manufacturers can only develop solutions that close the material cycle, avoid waste and yet still fulfill the extensive requirements placed on packaging if the relevant stakeholders are involved at an early stage. This includes material manufacturers, brand owners and their customers, right through to packaging material recycling facilities. The successful use of sustainable packaging can only succeed if all parties along the supply chain pool their respective areas of expertise. The objective is to test the machine capability of new types of packaging materials and to provide support in the development of packaging designs. Food manufacturers can here benefit from Syntegon Technology’s international network of material suppliers. By working together, they are able to find pragmatic, innovative solutions that meet complex market, consumer and legal requirements and thus open up new, more sustainable avenues.  https://www.bmu.de/en/law/circular-economy-and-safeguard-the-environmentally-compatible-management-of-waste/  The benefits of packaging in an increasingly waste-conscious world, DS Smith, https://www.dssmith.com/company/newsroom/2018/2/the-benefits-of-packaging-in-an-increasingly-waste-conscious-world  The current state of the paper packaging market, Smithers Pira, https://www.smitherspira.com/resources/2014/june/current-state-of-the-paper-packaging-market  Global consumers are willing to put their money where their heart is when it comes to goods and services from companies committed to social responsibility, Nielsen 2014, http://www.nielsen.com/content/corporate/us/en/press-room/2014/global-consumers-are-willing-to-put-their-money-where-their-heart-is.html Author and Contact Torsten Sauer Project Manager Sustainability Syntegon Technology Tel: +49 711 811 57137 Email: torsten.sauer2@Syntegon.com
Increased payload and wider reach: Sidel's M version of CoboAccess™_Pal answers growing cobotic palletising needs
The trend to reduce End-of-Line production cost in low-speed lines by replacing manual palletising operations with compact and user-friendly cobotic palletisers continues to rise – especially due to the very fast Return on Investment of these solutions. Nevertheless, the spread of this still rather new automation technology has often been limited by its payload capability and working envelope. But today, Sidel launch an extension to their CoboAccess_Pal cobotic palletising range featuring the highest case payload on the market in its category. The new M version of Sidel’s cobotic palletiser features a Yaskawa HC20, allowing for a case payload of up to 14 kg with a very significant reach of 1,700 mm – thus addressing the two most sought after factors for palletising. “Sidel are the first in Europe to embed the Yaskawa HC20 for palletising tasks. With the CoboAccess_Pal M version, we can now answer a wider scope of palletising needs within the Food, Home and Personal Care segments,” says Florian Marlot, product manager for the CoboAccess_Pal platform at Sidel. Reaching any expected pallet height up to 1,900 mm and speeds up to 6 cycles per minute, the equipment still allows for free and safe interactions between the operators and the fenceless cell. Florian Marlot explains: “Cobotics is an increasingly crucial asset in End-of-Line operations. It reduces End-of-Line production cost while improving the operators’ working conditions, freeing them from the very strenuous manual palletising tasks.” Delivering maximum performance on a reduced overall footprint, CoboAccess_Pal M version maintains the best attributes of Sidel’s established cobotic palletising range. It still includes its proven industrial automation platform based on PC and PLC, guaranteeing high machine reliability and fast machine re-start after stoppages. Moreover, the intuitive HMI offers a user-friendly experience. Also, PalDesigner®, which has been used on the market to this end for many years across various Sidel palletising solutions, allows for an autonomous new format and pallet pattern creation. “Almost two years after the initial launch of the S version and with more than 50 installed units, this latest expansion of our portfolio is perfectly completing our range of cobotic palletisers to answer any type of need,” concludes Florian Marlot.
Plastic packaging still confronting sustainability challenges
The coronavirus has only helped to underscore the importance of plastic packaging when it comes to keeping food contamination-free and to preserving its freshness and usability for longer. This is particularly vital now, given how millions of people worldwide are sheltering in place, and doing their best to make their provisions stretch. But the COVID-19 pandemic has also accelerated another trend that has a major impact on product packaging -- e-commerce. Online shopping already was showing strong growth, but the current stay-at-home phenomenon has only increased demand. An even broader awakening to the convenience of delivery to your doorstep may forever reshape parts of the retail sector. An April 4 story by DigitalCommerce360 cites data to underscore the current trends. In North America, it reported, the number of online orders for web-only online retailers soared 52% year-over-year in the United States and Canada for the period of March 22 through April 4, according to an online tracker from marketing platform Emarsys and analytics platform GoodData. Revenue for web-only retailers in the U.S. and Canada was up 30% year-over-year for the period. In the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region during the same two-week period, year-over-year transactions for web-only retailers grew by 23%, according to Emarsys/GoodData. During the same period, year-over-year revenue was up 19% in the region. E-commerce growing sharply Virus or not, retail e-commerce is rising sharply. New York-based consumer research firm Statista Inc. said that U.S. online retail sales of physical goods amounted to $365.2 billion in 2019, and projects that will rise to nearly $600 billion in 2024. Consider also that China’s annual, 24-hour online shopping spree known as Single’s Day -- last held on Nov. 11, 2019 -- generated record sales estimated at some $38 billion. The darker side of such a sales boom relates to the impact on the environment of so much product packaging. China’s State Post Bureau reported that e-commerce giants delivered 1.88 billion packages from Nov. 11 to Nov. 16 last year, an annual increase of almost 26%. Greenpeace estimated that the waste generated exceeded 250,000 tonnes. The volume of packaging material used by China's e-commerce and express delivery sectors hit 9.4 million tonnes last year, and is on course to more than quadruple to 41.3 million tonnes by 2025 if they keep up the rate of increase, according to Greenpeace and other non-government bodies. Sustainability still important So, booming e-commerce offers sales growth for key sectors as well as greater convenience (and safety) now for many, but it clearly comes at a cost. While public health trumps sustainability concerns at the moment, it’s clear that the packaging sector cannot afford to take its collective eye off the ball when it comes to being eco-conscious. As Dow Inc. CEO Jim Fitterling mentioned in ANTEC 2020 virtual conference on March 31: The COVID-19 crisis is going to end, "but the air we breathe, our water and the land we live on is here forever. And we can't afford to lose the momentum that we've started to gain already to safeguard the environment and help us move to a more circular economy." Leaders in the European Union also are concerned that the current virus-driven economic slump will cause the focus on sustainability to wane, writing in a joint statement in mid-April, “We should withstand the temptations of short-term solutions in response to the present crisis that risk locking the EU in a fossil fuel economy for decades to come.” These conditions offer both extreme challenges and enormous opportunities for brand owners, consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies, and for those designing and manufacturing the packaging. Multiple approaches being pursued Such firms are exploring and advancing multiple strategies to address these issues, including increased plastics recycling, more reusable packaging, greater use of biomaterials, reduced material use, and design for circularity. Package designers also need to take into account the different priorities for on-shelf vs. e-commerce products. Eye-catching package design is less vital for products sold online than in the store, but ensuring the shipped product arrives at its destination undamaged is vital. Advances in these areas take diverse forms, but consider the efforts being by CPGs to redesign the e-commerce-friendly and highly popular –– but largely unrecyclable –– flexible pouches to make them more eco-friendly. This mostly involves finding a way to convert those pouches’ multilayer, multimaterial constructions, which till now have been needed to protect the contents from such unwelcome factors such as moisture, oxygen, and ultraviolet light, into recyclable, mono-material structures. For example: mono-material pouches Several advances are happening in this area. Austria’s Mondi Group, for just one example, worked with several partners for four years to develop an all-polyethyelene, stand-up pouch for Germany’s Werner & Mertz GmbH to use with its Frosch-brand detergent. This patented pouch features detachable decorative panels on both sides, to help enable easier recycling. ▲ Mondi helped develop this fully recyclable, all-PE pouch Another new technology, called AeroFlexx and developed by Procter & Gamble Co., enables liquid packaging in a flexible yet rigid package. Made with coextruded flexible film, the product leverages compressed air to inflate specific portions of the pouch, specifically along the edges, to bring a degree of rigidity not otherwise possible in a flexible package. An AeroFlexx package uses half the plastic needed to blow mold a traditional bottle and can be delivered as roll stock to a filling facility, meaning it is easier to ship throughout the supply chain. In addition to significantly reducing plastic at the source, the Chicago-based company’s vision is to be 100% recycle ready by 2025. While enabling seamless, edge-to-edge artwork, AeroFlexx also features a no-leak, self-sealing valve that offers easy, one-handed operation by the consumer. ▲ An AeroFlexx pouch uses half the plastic as a comparably sized, blow molded bottle Loop platform touts reusability New Jersey recycler TerraCycle Inc., meanwhile, is taking a completely different approach with its Loop circular shopping platform. Loop has gained support from many of the world’s best-known brands, ranging from Unilever, PepsiCo, and Nestlé to Danone, Procter & Gamble, and UPS. ▲The Loop circular shopping platform aims to get brand owners to develop durable, reusable packages that get picked up, sanitized and reused over and over again. The Loop system uses UPS to ship a variety of food, household cleaning, and personal-care products in a reusable and collapsible, padded container called the Loop tote. The products are dispensed from reusable containers, which are returned in the same reusable tote when empty. Some have dubbed it “the milkman model,” in a nod to the old days when milk was delivered to your doorstep in glass bottles, which were later collected, cleaned, and reused. Loop,” maintains TerraCycle founder and CEO Tom Szaky, “is an engine for CPGs to shift from disposable products that consumers own to durable ones they borrow.” The brand owners, meanwhile, actually own the package, which is meant to be reused at least 100 times. The impact on packaging is obvious – instead of trying to make the cheapest possible disposable package or container, the brands are incented instead to design handsome, reusable containers out of durable materials. Numerous companies are also investing in initiatives and technologies to advance both mechanical and chemical recycling, and to develop biocompatible and compostable materials. See you at CHINAPLAS 2021 CHINAPLAS is further postponed to April 13-16, 2021 to be held in the Shenzhen World Exhibition & Convention Center, PR China. Focusing on “Smart Manufacturing” , “Innovative Materials”, and “Green & Circular Solutions”, the organizer is expect to present 400,000 square meters of exhibition space. For more information about CHINAPLAS 2021, please visit www.ChinaplasOnline.com.
Updated study confirms flexible packaging plays a key role in prevention of packaging waste and mitigation of global warming
A recently updated and extended study by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (ifeu), commissioned by Flexible Packaging Europe (FPE), has underlined the original study’s findings. It shows clearly that flexible packaging is a more effective route to resource efficiency and reducing carbon footprint than using rigid packaging formats or focusing entirely on recycling. The study uses a scenario in which all non-flexible packaging (i.e. rigid packaging) for Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) are substituted by flexible packaging wherever possible. As carbonated drinks cannot be packed this way, for the purpose of the study, theoretical substitution excluded all beverages (as a conservative approach). It showed that, by substituting all rigid packaging of non-beverage FMCG at the EU level, the amount of primary packaging waste could be reduced by 21 million tonnes per year. This means a 70% reduction of the total amount of non-beverage FMCG primary packaging in the EU, highlighting the huge packaging waste prevention potential of flexible packaging. Even more striking are the consequences on the environment. By using a life cycle assessment (LCA) approach the study shows that such a theoretical substitution would decrease total Global Warming Potential (GWP) of all European non-beverage FMCG primary packaging by 33%, even if it is assumed, for the purpose of the demonstration, that no material recycling processes for flexible packaging would take place. The opposite scenario – the substitution in the EU of all flexible packaging used for non-beverage FMCG by rigid packaging formats – would increase total GWP of the primary packaging to about 30%, the study shows. This is despite the much higher actual recycling rates of rigid packaging. Indeed, even if the recycling rate of rigid packaging was raised to 100%, this theoretical substitution would still lead to 14% higher GWP, it says. In addition to GWP, the environmental impact of Abiotic Depletion, which refers to the use of non-renewable resources, and Use of Water have also been assessed using the LCA approach. The study shows very similar results in the same order of magnitude for all three impact categories. The report’s authors conclude that for packaging the focus should not be on recyclability only but also and foremost on prevention. This can be achieved by a higher use of flexible packaging, which would lead not only to less primary packaging waste, they claim, but also to lower carbon footprint and use of resources. Conversely, a focus only on recyclability and achieving recycling targets might lead to the substitution of flexible packaging solutions by more easily recyclable, rigid packaging. This approach would clearly be detrimental for climate change and resource efficiency, besides running counter to the objective enshrined in the EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive to prevent the production of packaging waste. Commenting on the study, Jean-Paul Duquet (Director Sustainability FPE) said, “Prevention is on top of the waste hierarchy defined by the European Commission’s Waste Framework Directive, before other approaches like reuse, recycling and energy recovery. The priority accorded to prevention before recycling is highly relevant for packaging, as this study demonstrates. Flexible packaging perfectly fulfils this prevention requirement and proves to be a major part of the solution to today’s challenges facing the packaging sector and the environment. Not to mention the important ongoing efforts to reach high recyclability performances and make flexible packaging even more resource efficient.” Flexible Packaging Europe’s (FPE) members manufacture all types of flexible packaging. FPE comprises more than 80 small and medium sized companies as well as the major European producers of flexible packaging for all materials. These companies cover more than 85% of the European flexible packaging turnover. Also, six national flexible packaging associations are members of FPE ensuring consistency between national and European activities and lobbying. www.flexpack-europe.org Thumbnail & Head Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash