More than 80% of steel packaging is recycled in Europe. The pressure on plastics is growing

Source: Pixabay

More than 80% of steel packaging is recycled in Europe.

The pressure on plastics is growing

Thomas Reiner | 07.08.2020

82.5 percent of steel packaging has been recycled in Europe in 2017. This is shown by the latest evaluations of the Association of European Producers of Steel for Packaging (APEAL). The steel industry has thus achieved its target of an 80% recycling rate by 2020.

Metal packaging is becoming the recycling king. The fact that steel is 100 percent recyclable helps in this process. In Europe, metal packaging also benefits from well-established and highly efficient recycling structures.

There is a lot of potential. Not only in communication activities on the material’s sustainability advantages. But above all on the road to the circular economy. It is no coincidence that companies in the metal packaging industry are increasingly discovering the topic of circular economy for themselves. They are consistently optimising systems and structures in this sense, making their product visibly more attractive.

A renaissance of metal packaging can already be observed in individual segments. The renaissance is at the expense of plastic, which – in addition to paper – is now receiving pressure from different sides.

This pressure is not to be take easy, because metal is not only, like paper, strong in recycling. Metal also provides valuable barrier properties. This is a strong package. In baby food we are already seeing examples of the substitution of plastic by metal. More are likely to follow.

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2.7x as many cucumbers spoil without packaging: We need system answers

Source: Pixabay

2.7x as many cucumbers spoil without packaging: We need system answers

Thomas Reiner | 31.07.2020

A new study from Austria has examined the effects of dispensing with packaging for food. In the case of the cucumber, the amount of food waste increases by a factor of 2.7 on the retail side alone, and the climate footprint increases fourfold due to the additional amount of waste. The study shows that with all the focus on circular economy and reduced material consumption, the basic performance of the packaging is still the most important – also ecologically. Without hygiene and product protection it is not possible. And the question of sustainability is not decided with the plastic film alone.

Study “Stop Waste – Save Food”
The current study “Stop Waste – Save Food” was carried out by a network of scientists, the packaging industry and the food industry in Austria. The aim of the study was to clarify the role of packaging in the prevention of food waste.

The core message of the results report: Packaging can make a significant contribution to preventing food waste. Concretely examined examples showed in detail:

The results:

  • A doubling of the minimum shelf life reduces the waste rate in the retail sector by about 40 percent on average.
  • By dispensing with shrink film for salad cucumbers, an Austrian retail chain increased its food waste for salad cucumbers by a factor of 2.7. The climate footprint of the additional waste volume is four times higher than the climate benefit of the saved packaging.
  • About 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are related to food. One third of all food produced is lost. Avoiding food waste can reduce our overall climate footprint by up to 8 percent.
  • With its protective function, packaging often helps to reduce food waste. If this is the case, then the environmental benefit from avoided waste is usually 5-10 times greater than the environmental cost of packaging. Product protection pays off particularly well in the case of foodstuffs with a high production input (e.g. meat, cheese).

Back to the basics
The study is a valuable reminder of what packaging fundamentally achieves, as a product protector, as a guardian of hygiene and as a preserver of values and resources. We must not forget this, especially when it comes to sustainability and the circular economy.

System answers
In principle, it is quite conceivable that the cucumber could be deprived of its protective packaging without ecological disadvantages. However, it is then important that processes and accelerated logistics can compensate for the loss of shelf life by reducing the time required between harvesting and sale.

As long as we do not have these system answers, it is negligent to dispense with the protection of the packaging.

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Market for sustainable plastic packaging offers great growth opportunities

Source: Freepik

Market for sustainable plastic packaging offers great growth opportunities

Thomas Reiner | 23.07.2020

According to a new market research report, the market for sustainable plastic packaging will grow by 5.6% annually to 117.3 billion US dollars by 2025. Among the most important drivers are the strict requirements of the regulators and changing consumer preferences. One thing seems clear: the future belongs to sustainable plastic packaging. But the question must be asked what exactly does “sustainable” mean? The answers show similarities. They all aim for the circular economy. And they offer great growth opportunities for the industry.

In the report, MarketsandMarkets distinguishes between packaging types (rigid, flexible, industrial), packaging formats (primary, secondary, tertiary), process (recyclable, reusable, biodegradable), end-use sector and region. Results:

  • Market growth to USD 89.0 billion in 2020
  • Growth of the market to UDS 117.4 billion in 2025
  • Annual growth rate 5.6 percent
  • The “biodegradable” segment will show the strongest growth between 2020 and 2025.
  • The APAC region will account for the largest share of the market for sustainable plastic packaging in 2025.
  • The largest end-use sector in 2019 was the food and beverage segment.

The forecasts of the market report underline the importance of sustainable plastic packaging. Without doubt, the future belongs to them.

An interesting question here is what constitutes “sustainable” plastic packaging. Is it recyclable? Is it reusable? Is it biodegradable?

Common to all approaches is that they all aim at the circular economy. What is sustainable is what is recyclable. Recyclability is not only an answer to the current pressure from regulators and consumers. Above all, it is also a huge growth opportunity for the industry based on sustainability.

We should take up this opportunity

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Packaging machine manufacturers are the hidden champions of the circular economy

Source: Pixabay

Packaging machine manufacturers are the hidden champions of the circular economy

Thomas Reiner | 21.07.2020

Expert interviews conducted by Berndt+Partner with leading brands show the central role of packaging machine manufacturing for the circular economy. In response to the question “Who do you see in principle as a development partner for the topic “Circular Economy?”, nine out of ten respondents named the manufacturers of packaging machinery. Eight out of ten also name the manufacturers of packaging materials.

The impression that packaging machinery is in demand as a central development partner is not deceptive. The consumer goods companies have long been aware of this. They need and seek the help of packaging machine manufacturers in order to achieve their own recycling targets.

After all, it is not just a matter of finding alternative packaging materials. The decisive factor is that they can be produced and filled safely and efficiently. But this only works if the appropriate technical solutions are available.

Some packaging machine manufacturers have already reacted to this. Others are in the process of orienting themselves, seeking clear approaches or their own role. Many, however, have not yet recognized the new reality.

But the machine manufacturers can not only become a driver of the circular economy. They can also develop completely new customers and market groups. There are opportunities on a grand scale.

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