Thomas Reiner

Thomas Reiner

Thomas Reiner

CEO, Berndt+Partner Group

As Co-Founder and CEO of Berndt+Partner I advise my clients worldwide on packaging design and business strategy, helping them to take the next step.

 

My current topics:

  • Digital Transformation
  • Circular Economy
  • Culture + Agility

 

Further involvement:

  • Chairman of the German Packaging Institute (DVI)
  • Founder and Chairman of the Global Local Branding Alliance (glba)
  • Member of the Board of the World Packaging Organization
  • Co-Founder of the German Packaging Museum
  • Speaker and presenter at important events in the packaging industry
  • Worldwide publications in trade journals and the daily press
  • Member of the jury for the Sustainability Awards, Worldstar, Dupont Award, 3M-Scothban Award, ECMA Award, FEDES-Star
  • Guest speakers at universities worldwide

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Without a closed cycle, plastic has no future. Water now in aluminium bottles

Photo source: Lofoten Arctic Water AS

Without closed cycle, plastic has no future. Water now in aluminium bottles

Thomas Reiner | 12.02.2021

Without closed cycles, no packaging material has a future. Furthermore, the primacy of the climate discussion is becoming stronger and stronger and the CO2 balance is becoming the most important yardstick. This has repercussions with serious consequences. Many in the industry are not yet aware of this. Time for a wake-up call.


 

The current example shows once again how important recyclability has become in the choice of packaging. Without recyclability, no packaging material has a future. A circumstance that plastics are increasingly feeling the pain of. Metal can score points here. But closed cycles alone are no longer enough.

Focus on CO2 and climate balance
Because the primacy of the climate discussion is becoming increasingly stronger and the CO2 balance is becoming the decisive factor. But it’s not just about the carbon footprint of the packaging material itself! The design (for recycling) and the recycling process itself are also being weighed in the balance. This is only logical, because material recycling also requires energy, which is reflected in the CO2 balance.

Why aluminium?
With the new, recyclable aluminium bottles from Ball for its natural premium water, Lofoten Arctic Water says it wants to avoid microplastic pollution of the waterways and at the same time conserve natural resources.
Another important point in the company’s choice was that the bottles are also suitable for the deposit systems and reverse vending machines used in the Nordic countries.
The bottles will initially only be used in Norway, France, Germany, Taiwan and the UK, but will be rolled out to other countries in the future.

Wake-up call for industry
The primacy of the climate balance will lead to new challenges for industry in the future. Closed cycles alone are no longer enough. The effects of “Green Deal”, the obligation for companies to be climate-neutral and the overall dynamic regulatory activity in the climate sector will increasingly lead to the climate balance of the recycling process also being included in the sustainability balance. The industry would do well not only to hear this wake-up call, but to take it seriously!

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Dove’s refill deodorant: Two birds with one stone?

Photo source: Josh Power

Dove’s refill deodorant: Two birds with one stone?

Thomas Reiner | 05.02.2021

Unilever’s new stainless steel refill solution not only halves the use of plastic, but also scores points for recycling via a closed metal cycle. The refillability also proves to be a trump card when it comes to the carbon footprint. Should we all multitrack now?


 

Climate and recycling benefits: The new deodorant stick in a stainless steel casing not only pays off in terms of the circular economy, but also in terms of the climate issue. The packaging uses a lot of material that can be recycled in closed cycles. At the same time, the packaging addresses the climate issue, because the refill principle also reduces the CO2 balance by reducing the amount of material used.

Refill and reduction of plastic
Lifetime instead of disposable: Whereas deodorants in plastic packaging used to disappear in the rubbish once used up, the refillable deodorant stick from Unilever’s personal care brand Dove is supposed to last a lifetime. For this purpose, the (durable) stainless steel casing is refilled with (exchangeable) inserts that snap into the casing. Dove gives a “Lifetime Guarantee” on the housing.

The new packaging does not completely dispense with plastic, as this cannot yet be completely replaced in the inserts. But Unilever says it achieves a plastic reduction of 54 percent compared to the previous solution. In addition, 98 percent of the plastic used can be recycled, according to the company.

In 2019, Unilever set a goal to halve the use of new plastic by 2025, save a total of 100,000 tonnes of plastic packaging and initiate a complete move away from single-use plastic. The new packaging pays off towards this goal. The plan is to completely eliminate the use of plastic in the future by improving the design of the deodorant stick. For the time being, the refillable deodorant will only be available in US Target and Walmart shops.

Is that enough in terms of sustainability?
Multi-track on the way to the same goal: the new deodorant stick solution shows that it is possible. The solution is not yet perfect and is only a first step. On the other hand, it is a (much needed) step! And it is going in the right direction.

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Glass conquers further market segments

Photo source: Voelkel GmbH and Black Forest Nature GmbH

Glass conquers further market segments

Thomas Reiner | 01.02.2021

Without a functioning plastic cycle, reusable and glass will continue to conquer further market segments. For instance, in contrast to classic milk, plant-based drinks have so far mainly been offered in beverage cartons. But that is now slowly changing.

 


 

Unlike classic milk, plant-based drinks have so far mainly been offered in beverage cartons. But that is now slowly changing: since recently, both the organic juice producer Voelkel and the brand Velike, which specializes in oat milk, have been selling their plant-based milks in reusable glass bottles. Especially with the vegan market segments, this plastic substitution is well received and creates valuable differentiation. It pays off if the product concept is carried through to the packaging. Without a functioning plastic cycle, reusable and glass will conquer further market segments.

Oat drinks have been gaining popularity as a milk substitute for some time. At Voelkl and Velike, they consist of water, oats, sunflower oil and sea salt. The drinks cater to vegan market segments and consumers who suffer from lactose intolerance or are critical of factory farming.

Voelkl says it is Germany’s largest natural food juice company. The company produces fruit juices, vegetable juices, soft drinks, wellness drinks and other beverages in Demeter and organic quality for German and international natural food retailers, health food stores and the catering industry. But the products can also be found in classic supermarkets.
The reusable bottle of Voelkl’s certified organic oat milk has been in use since February of this year. It is made of amber glass and can be filled up to 50 times, according to the company. The glass is then recycled, it adds.

Velike is a fairly young supplier from the Black Forest that relies on regional production and supply chains for its vegan oat milk. The company has been using the reusable bottle made of clear glass since March of this year. It is currently sold mainly in organic markets and supermarket chains in southern and western Germany.

The fact that it is precisely the producers of vegan foods who are opting for glass and reusable bottles is not surprising. Vegan market segments are clearly more critical and demanding when it comes to sustainability and packaging. The change from beverage cartons and their “plastic image” to reusable glass packaging is particularly well received here and creates valuable differentiation for the brand.

Packaging is the most important brand and product ambassador, especially among packaging-critical market segments. Voelkl and Velike have recognized this. A product concept must be coherent and follow through to the packaging.

The trend from disposable and plastic to reusable and glass will continue, especially for suitable product concepts. And starting from the “niches” of vegan and organic food, it will conquer further segments. Because plastic lacks the arguments as long as it does not get its cycles closed and remains in the linear path of disposable.

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Refill is experiencing a renaissance

Photo source: wirestock

Refill is experiencing a renaissance

Thomas Reiner | 28.01.2021

The renaissance of refill is the logical outcome of efforts to reduce high volumes of packaging. Procter & Gamble will introduce a system of reusable and refillable aluminum bottles in Europe in 2021. The move is further evidence of the huge market shift towards refill.

 


 

Procter & Gamble will introduce a system of reusable and refillable aluminum bottles in Europe in 2021. Part of the system will also include a recyclable refillable plastic pouch. With the system change, the company aims to reduce the use of virgin plastic by around 50 percent and make all shampoo and conditioner bottles fully recyclable. The move is further evidence of the huge market shift towards reusables. The renaissance of reusable and refill are the logical consequence of the effort to reduce high volumes of packaging.

Specifically, P&G Beauty’s promotion includes the Head & Shoulders, Pantene Pro-V, Herbal Essences and Aussie brands. The reusable bottle will be made of 100 percent aluminum. It will be supplemented by a recyclable plastic refill pouch. Compared with the standard shampoo bottle used to date, the company says this will result in a reduction in plastic consumption of around 60 percent. 300 million bottles made of new plastic are expected to be saved each year as a result.

Compared to the 2016 benchmark, Procter & Gamble hopes to reduce the use of virgin plastic by 50 percent as early as the end of 2021. Part of the plan is also to make all shampoo and conditioner bottles fully recyclable.

We’ve pointed out the vigorous renaissance of reusables at the expense of disposables on our blog before. Procter & Gamble’s system change is further evidence of the huge market shift. The fact that the new reusable packaging is fully recyclable is a necessary prerequisite in times of circular economy. Without recyclability, even reusable packaging cannot be truly sustainable.

The refill principle, in which the consumer independently refills the reusable packaging via refill bags or refill stations, is a logical component of reusable packaging. Refill pays into the effort to minimize the much-criticized, high volume of packaging, which is perceived as too high.

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