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The green light for packaging

You can’t talk about packaging these days without mentioning sustainability

the two quite simply go hand in hand.

There are lots of exciting things happening in the world of sustainable packaging, with many companies working in partnership with their customers to produce ever more eco friendly applications. Here, we highlight just a few (six) great green ideas.

Replacing single use plastic

Smurfit Kappa has worked with a well known Belgian specialty brewer to produce a sustainable packaging concept that eliminated the need for shrink film.

The Kasteel Brouwerij Vanhonsebrouck in Belgium was seeking to implement a completely circular supply chain and made a number of changes. These included using recyclable cans instead of glass, to provide an additional, more future proof packaging solution, and remove the plastic.

Smurfit Kappa made recommendations for a 100% recyclable, paper based solution which eliminated the requirement for shrink film. The sustainable new pack was also attractively designed and featured an in-built handle to facilitate easy transportation for the consumer.

Speaking about the collaboration, Kasteel Brouwerij Vanhonsebrouck CEO, Xavier Vanhonsebrouck, said: ‘It was very nice to be able to discuss our plans with Smurfit Kappa because it also has a culture of innovation and worked with us to find the right solution. We have the perfect packaging for the future now.’

Smurfit Kappa CEO of Europe, Saverio Mayer added: ‘Both our companies share a deep commitment to sustainability and the Smurfit Kappa Better Planet Packaging initiative opens up a world of possibilities for us both.’

In the year following the launch of Smurfit Kappa Better Planet Packaging, the number of customers choosing paper based packaging as an alternative to less recyclable alternatives has grown steadily.

The best of both worlds

GEA has launched a new sustainable solution, FoodTray, that combines all the advantages of thermoforming technology, cardboard and film, to create sustainable packaging that helps reduce food waste and meets the demands for significantly higher recycling rates for plastic packaging.

FoodTray is an ecological carton/film composite developed by GEA and its industry partners to be assembled on the company’s thermoforming packaging machine, an innovative consumer friendly solution whose components can easily be separated at

the end of the supply chain.

GEA has been offering a proven alternative to pure plastic packaging for years with a carton/film composite solution, which has now been further adapted to market requirements and guarantees maximum flexibility.

Thanks to the cooperation from the cardboard, film and engineering sectors, including the Roba Group, Schur Flexibles Germany and Van de Velde Packaging, FoodTray combines the criteria of product claim, haptics, safety, sustainability and industrial production processes.

This latest packaging innovation is made from cardboard formed almost entirely from natural raw or recycled material, whilst film provides an outstanding barrier, helping to extend food shelf life.

Greg Austin, GEA’s UK sales manager – slicing and packaging equipment, said: ‘FoodTray is a great solution for customers looking to reduce plastic in packaging without compromising on shelf life, food safety and presentation. It is also an in line system that fully integrates into our thermoformer process.’

Reducing film content by up to 70%, fossil based raw materials are replaced with fibres from renewable raw materials so that content is more than 80% recycled. At the same time, there is no compromise in terms of stability and, likewise, the cardboard and film can be easily separated and recycled by the consumer.

The film is thermoformed and sealed directly to the inside of the cardboard box, at which point the customer specific packaging process can be implemented. Investment costs are low and the result is ecologically sustainable packaging with MAP heights ranging from 20 mm to 60 mm and skin versions up to 20 mm, while cardboard is used on the outer box.

Brand information can be printed over the entire surface, facilitating high quality product presentation and labelling as required.

A growing solution

Mr Fothergill’s was looking to re-design its range of ‘Little Gardener’ starter propagator packs, ideal for young gardeners or the smaller garden, that could also be easily packed and printed.

The company chose to approach thermoforming packaging manufacturer, Macpac, with its highly efficient thermoforming machinery and low cost tooling, allowing for increased flexibility and highly cost effective minimum runs from as little as 1000 units upwards.

Mr Fothergill’s had collaborated with Macpac on earlier highly successful projects and was therefore well aware of the company’s capabilities in designing bespoke packaging to brief, time and budget. With environmental protection also being a key driver, it was equally anxious to provide a plastic mini propagator tray that would safeguard its customers’ green credentials, whilst satisfying the product’s environmental promises.

For both Macpac, protection of the environment is a company wide objective, and it continually strives to eliminate any damaging effects across the range of product designs, with the considered choice of material, manufacture and in the distribution of products to customers. Its design therefore was to engineer a propagator tray that contained dimples in the base to retain moisture, the renewably sourced material chosen was blended with 90% post consumer recyclate (R-PET), the finished pack itself being 100% fully recyclable, and end product weight was reduced without compromising on functionality.

Getting fruity

Waitrose & Partners wanted to reduce the unnecessary use of plastic packaging to help meet a company wide pledge on packaging sustainability. To provide an innovative and sustainable solution for its Duchy Organic grape punnet, the supermarket turned to fruit supplier Primafruit and DS Smith to begin a collaborative packaging design process.

By bringing the three leading companies together, Waitrose & Partners achieved a packaging solution that would not only reduce the use of plastic packaging but also optimise the pack line to ensure efficiencies were gained through-out the supply chain.

In collaboration, Waitrose & Partners, DS Smith and Primafruit produced a cardboard punnet – a closed loop solution consisting of recycled fibres which are fully recyclable at their end of life.

By simply exchanging the plastic punnet for a cardboard version, the sustainable credentials of the packaging were instantly increased – and predicted to save Waitrose & Partners 12 tonnes of plastic packaging a year.

David Ellerington, head of business development, UK Packaging for DS Smith, explained: ‘The increasing focus on sustainability and environmental impact means that consumers are very aware of the impact of their product’s packaging. By transitioning to cardboard, the entire supply chain benefits and consumers can more easily recycle the packaging.

‘Cardboard is a truly biodegradable and 100% recyclable packaging material – made from the fibres of recycled paper and cardboard. This not only avoids the felling of new trees, but also ensures that the packaging is easily recyclable at the kerbside for consumers at its end of life.’

Cardboard is a lightweight but strong packaging material that also makes transporting the punnets more manageable for Waitrose & Partners in-store.

The move to a cardboard tray for Waitrose Duchy Organic grapes was the first pledge to be met as part of the company’s seven packaging pledges to honour The Prince of Wales’s seven decades and leadership on sustainability. The step change is expected to save an initial 12 tonnes of plastic a year.

Tor Harris, Waitrose & Partners, said: ‘The amount of plastic we will remove by switching from plastic punnets to cardboard is significant and this packaging first for our Waitrose Duchy Organic and Waitrose 1 Sable grapes highlights our continued efforts to reduce unnecessary plastic packaging wherever we possibly can.’ 

Not only is the new packaging solution environmentally friendly, but it also offers Waitrose Duchy Organic the opportunity to increase its brand visibility in-store. The shape of the new punnet also allows for

a flexible shelf position, making in-store merchandising of the

produce easier and more adaptable to the layout of each individual supermarket.

Going organic

Parkside has collaborated with Planet Organic to create a new compostable pack as the health food brand makes significant inroads to its sustainability goals.

The innovative solution created by Parkside for the health food company’s range of organic cupboard ingredients replaces its previously non recyclable plastic packaging for products such as red rice, apple chips, flaked almonds and gluten free oats. The new packaging also possesses improved oxygen barriers performance, which further extends the shelf life of the goods.

Buying director at Planet Organic, Al Overton, said: ‘As a company, we strive to be ethically innovative in every aspect of our operation. The new packaging created by Parkside has ensured we are achieving that objective, enabling us to sustainably package a large portion of our product range. Parkside is an industry leader in compostable packaging, so

it was the obvious first choice to work with us on this new venture.’

The durable laminate is safe to use for food packaging and is designed to break down within 26 weeks in a home composting environment, gaining full accreditation from TUV (formerly Vincotte). The packaging is also tested for eco toxicity and various other criteria against EN 13432.

‘Our new range of compostable packaging has helped position us at the forefront of the market when it comes to sustainability,’ commented Al. ‘With the current plastic debate not showing any signs

of slowing down, our innovative solution is beneficial both for the environment and in terms of being a powerful marketing tool to environmentally conscious consumers.’

The innovation team at Parkside has dedicated over eight years

of research and development into compostable laminates. This has led to the creation of more than 20 accredited home and industrial compostable structures which make up its Park2Nature range.

New business development manager for Parkside, Paul Lenihan, added: ‘It was a privilege to be asked by Planet Organic to col-laborate on this project. The ethos of the company fits perfectly with our Park2Nature range and we are delighted we were able to create such an excellent product for the company.’

Cheers to a carrier return scheme

WaveGrip is providing a packaging solution and carrier return scheme for Orpheus Brewing to help reduce packaging waste and reduce the brewery’s annual packaging footprint by approximately 85%.

With the aim of reducing overall packaging footprint, the WaveGrip carriers were the perfect choice for Orpheus. Weighing only 3.5 g for a standard six pack carrier, WaveGrip provides an 85% reduction in material use when compared to HDPE plastic handles and 10% savings when compared to traditional ring carriers.

Reduced manufacturing footprint, transport costs, and ease of storage also contributed to the brewery’s decision in choosing WaveGrip. Compared to HDPE carriers WaveGrip allows for up to 370% more carriers per pallet, thereby reducing overall shipment costs as well as fuel consumption and the greenhouse gas footprint for the brewery.

WaveGrip carriers are recyclable, being made from LDPE, however the challenge remained to ensure that the carriers were collected for recycling. This, together with understanding the differences in recycling capabilities, led to the ‘Orpheus Carrier Recycle Programme’ being established.

Orpheus drinkers can now return their used carriers to any of its taprooms and receive an incentive off future beer purchases for their efforts (we like that!). Once a sufficient number of carriers have been returned, they are collected in bulk by WaveGrip and recycled into a diverse range of products such as decking, road paving and other types of packaging – or even more WaveGrip carriers. As part of the bpi Group, over 120,000 tonnes of plastic is currently recycled every year, minimising waste and maximising resources as part of the circular economy.

‘The sustainability of WaveGrip was fundamental to our choice of carriers and has helped to significantly reduce our packaging usage,’ commented Remco Bos, CEO of Orpheus Brewing.

‘The final part for us was ensuring that with its recyclability we could ensure that each WaveGrip carrier was not wasted. Our Carrier Recycle Programme now delivers this and by incentivising our customers to return their carriers we have a win-win situation for both the environment and them.’

Aaron McIvor, managing director for WaveGrip concluded, ‘We know how important sustainability is to our customers and it is integral to our WaveGrip products and development. We are there-fore delighted to support this initiative by Orpheus Brewing and ensure that WaveGrip carriers are collected as part of a circular approach to packaging.’

Kasteel Brouwerij Vanhonsebrouck -

Waitrose & Partners -

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