Food Manufacturers Rethink Flexible Packaging

Processors are rethinking and improving existing products and make new ones possible thanks to advances in pouch packaging. Flexible packaging suppliers focus on the sustainable end of life scenarios for pouch packaging, bags and film wrappers due to the plethora of green benefits. Unfortunately one area where most flexible packaging is not green is recyclability.  The flexible packaging industry is working on a solution for this problem. One solution is the recyclable 100% polyethylene stand up pouch developed by Dow Chemical. Recyclable pouches can be recycled through bag and film recycling programs. These recycle programs require the end user to bring the clean, empty packaging back to a retail store.

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Source: Food Processing

Top 25 impacts on flexible packaging supply chain

Smithers Pira has released a report listing the trends that will influence flexible packaging over the next ten years. The report ‘Ten Year Forecast of Disruptive Technologies in Flexible Packaging to 2023’ explores technological, economic, consumer, sociological, environmental and regulatory changes. The report also lists the top 25 developments. The focus of the report is food and beverage packaging, but pharmaceutical and household chemical applications are also included

According to Chandra Leister, Marketing and Production Manager at Smithers Pira, the top five disruptive technologies in flexible packaging are forecast to be intelligent packaging, recyclability, packaging openability, biobased polymers and digital printing. The report claims there will be continuous development of new flexible packaging products for new markets and applications encroaching on traditional rigid packaging. High growth is expected in Europe and North America, as well as in the emerging markets of Asia and Central and South America.

The report states that smart packaging will be the key disruptive factor affecting the flexible packaging industry due to high cost, consumer resistance to items such as sachets in packaging and concerns about excessive packaging. Though, intelligent packaging is expected to decrease cost, increase emphasis on food safety, anti-counterfeiting, new regulations and brand owner/consumer demand. This will lead to radically new views on the function of packaging to include monitoring, tracking, warning, remediation, authentication, communication and brand protection.

The report states the second most disruptive technology is recyclability. Because of the small amount of material used in a flexible package, it produces much less waste than other formats. However, it is not currently feasible to mechanically recycle postconsumer flexible packaging because of its thin film structure, multi-layered composition and often contamination by food waste. This situation could create problems with the sustainability and recyclability goals of many major corporations or with the reduced or zero landfill policies of many governments. More easily recyclable materials and barrier structures, including monolayers, are expected to be introduced over the next 10 years, but this will not resolve the problem unless improved collection, sorting and recycling infrastructure is implemented.

Source: Smithers Pira

A Holistic Approach to Packaging

As flexible packaging is becoming more popular suppliers must know the right credentials when it comes to the sustainable disposal or recycling of materials. Ensuring waste is correctly disposed of reduces a supplier’s carbon footprint and improves warehouse efficiencies. The importance of sustainable waste disposal cannot be underestimated – closed loop recycling processes are just one way of addressing this.

Closed loop recycling processes work by ensuring all disposed packaging in the warehouse is recycled in-house and then cultivated back into the business for use. Closed loop recycling processes significantly reduce the amount of waste going into the landfill. The demand on businesses to incorporate processes that drive real reductions in energy and waste is greater than ever before. Closed-loop systems can therefore go a long way towards meeting this requirement. One of the packaging methods that is coming to the forefront is the bag and tote system, where products are packed and placed in a tote bag then returned by the customer for re-use.

In regards to the carbon footprint of a supplier, good organization and customer convenience should be at the core of initiatives that cut down the amount of packaging used per customer – especially where the customer has numerous individual orders. Warehouse layout should allow these orders to be combined to cut down wastage and reinforce a one-stop-shop status in the process. Sustainable measures such as these can also help drive more efficient ways of working.

Source: Packaging Europe