Sustainable packaging sustains its prominence

Today, it is nearly impossible to read about packaging innovations without seeing some mention of sustainability. In this issue alone, there is mention of a more sustainable packaging for spray paint in the household trend article on page 54. There are several more sustainable packaging innovations throughout the PACK EXPO coverage and New Packages sections. Last month, Packaging Strategies featured the new Method laundry detergent bottle made from 100% post-consumer PET, the plant-based EarthBottle packaging offering an alternative to petroleum-based plastics, and single-serve fish packaging from Orca Bay that eliminated an outer packaging later for a more sustainable approach.

According to a recent survey conducted by Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) (asiapulppaper.com) 46% of Americans say they actively seek out packaging that can be recycled or reused. The survey also showed that more environmentally-friendly packaging is in demand with 62% of consumers.

Even while consumers demand more convenient packaging, they also want it to be more sustainable. The single-serve coffee market has boomed over the last few years, but all of those coffee pods are creating a lot of waste. Italian coffee brand, Lavazza, has partnered with biochemical corporation, Novamont (novamont.com) to introduce a compostable coffee capsule for Italian expresso. This comes on the heels of several such innovations for coffee pods compatible with popular single-cup brewing systems. Lavazza’s capsule will be compatible with the Lavazza Minu Coffee machine and will launch in Italy in 2016. The capsule can be disposed of with organic waste and process industrially to become compost.

“Innovation and sustainability are two of the most important pillars of Lavazza’s business, which makes the introduction of the first compostable coffee capsule extremely gratifying,” says Marco Lavazza, group vice chairman. “With this product, we intend to provide our consumers with a perfect espresso, while at the same time contributing to good and sustainable practices.”

“What we’re presenting today is not just a technical solution that improves the environmental sustainability of a product, but a concrete demonstration of the potential of bio-economy,” says Catia Bastoli, managing director of Novamont. “Something as simple as an everyday cup of coffee obtained from this new compostable capsule also serves as a driver for economic growth, within a territorially integrated production process focused on biodiversity.”

Many brands are looking for ways to create a more sustainable package not only to serve consumer demand, but to protect the future of their product. John Dewar & Sons Ltd. has partnered with the Scotch Whisky Association to promote sustainability in the industry.

“The environment is so important to Scotch whisky,” says Iain Lochhead, operations director for John Dewar & Sons Ltd., part of the Bacardi group of companies. “We are so closely tied to the air, the water and the landscape where we grow our barley and distill our whiskies that it’s crucial we have a sustainable future. Without our barley, there is no Scotch whisky industry.”

As part of the Bacardi group, John Dewar & Sons has participated in group-wide sustainability initiatives, which include Bacardi’s commitment to use eco-design to craft sustainability into its brand packaging. By 2017, Bacardi says it plans to reduce the weight of its packaging by 10%, and by 2022, it plans to achieve a 15% weight reduction.

In support of demands from brands to create more sustainable materials, packaging suppliers and materials companies have been developing more sustainable materials that also work to provide the functionality and form needed by brands and expected by consumers. Milliken (Milliken.com) has created UltraClear PP for use in thermoformed food packaging. As the name suggests the polypropylene materials offers better clarity than previously seen in PP packaging. UltraClear PP offers a low-weight, high-aesthetic appeal packaging option that is also easily recycled. The new material can be used for sheet and thermoformed applications such as meat trays, clamshell containers and lids. UltraClear PP’s heat resistance also extends its application options to microwavability and hot filling.

“UltraClear PP offers a highly-desirable set of performance and sustainability benefits for thermoformed food packaging for converters and during and post-consumer use. As a mono-material solution UltraClear PP can be recycled easily, unlike multi-material or multi-layered PET alternatives. This supports a circular economy that results in end-of-life solutions in further applications, such as automotive, furniture, containers and appliances,” says Sami T.K. Palanisami, Milliken’s marketing & sales manager plastic additives.

Similarly, Eastman (Eastman.com) offers the Eastman Aspira family of resins designed for extrusion blow molded packaging. The resins offer clarity, gloss, design freedom, strength and recyclability for the large handleware containers. The Eastman Aspira One polymer allows for the creation of extrusion blow molded packaging that works in the existing PET recycling stream. This resin allows packagers to create eye-catching and recyclable packaging for beverages, foods and household goods. It can work as a glass bottle alternative and functions well for use in large liquid containers.

Brands and consumers alike are moving toward more sustainable packaging. When it comes to sustainability the changes cannot simply be made in one area of package creation. Corporate goals must align with package design and material creation. The collaboration throughout the areas of packaging will continue to drive the development of more sustainable materials that also meet design and durability demands. As changes like these continue the future looks “green” and bright.

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