Established cycles shape thinking at Coca-Cola

Source: Coca-Cola

Established cycles shape thinking at Coca-Cola

Thomas Reiner | 15.11.2019

As long as image and real life cycle assessment are unequal brothers, a solution found is not really sustainable. Rather, it marks a transition and an emergency solution in disruptive times.

From an ecological point of view, it makes no sense to replace a few grams of shrink film with a multiple of cardboard. Nevertheless, Coca-Cola European Partners is now following this path with its can multipacks. The image is the lead here. And existing cycles exert agenda-setting power.

The changeover will start in the UK. More than 30 million can multipacks are sold there every year. In addition to the complete Coca-Cola product range, the changeover also affects Fanta, Sprite, Dr Pepper and Lilt.

Previously, the multipacks of shrink film were covered. The material used was minimal and the film used was recyclable. From an ecological point of view, it makes little sense to switch to cardboard that has a multiple of material and weight.

One reason why the company is still pressing ahead with the changeover is the meagre collection rate for shrink films in the UK. According to Coca-Cola, these are only collected in 10 percent of communities, whereas cardboard is collected in 98 percent of communities. It is clear how strong the design power of established, already functioning cycles is: they shape thinking and decisions.

One can perceive the upheaval, the digital transformation and the circular economy as a time of uncertainty – or as a time for new opportunities and possibilities. It is therefore essential that the sustainability aspect of packaging is taken into account, planned and implemented holistically from the very first product idea.

Since it is our mission at B+P to close cycles by helping companies prepare themselves for the circular economy, I find it exciting to find out what you think about this topic. Leave a comment below.

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A pragmatism that is reshaping the industry: Labelprint24 points the way

A pragmatism that is reshaping the industry:

Labelprint24 points the way

Thomas Reiner | 23.10.2019

The top dogs must be careful that disruptive newcomers don’t get the better of them within a very short time. The dynamics of digital transformation are not necessarily waiting for the perfect product. What counts is speed – and a pragmatic approach that works.

Fresh impulses and disruptive thinking can also come from outside.

One of the first digitally printed and stamped folding cartons comes from the system manufacturer Labelprint24. The young company, which describes itself as an online print shop and system provider of packaging materials, recently presented the “digiBOX” in September at the trade fair FachPack in Nuremberg in addition to its digitally printed laminate tubes.

It marks a 100% web-to-pack solution for the digital production of custom printed and finished boxes. The box is computed online and then produced completely digitally, automatically and networked.

Even though the “digiBOX” is not yet a perfect solution visually and haptically, it points the way – and that not only in theory, but especially in practice. What counts here is the dynamism and flexibility as well as the pragmatism and explorative courage that the newcomer shows. It is no coincidence that this is an actor who comes “from outside”.

The necessary spirit could be even more pronounced among established companies in the industry, where more courage, flexibility and pragmatic willingness to compromise are generally needed.

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Rethinking the role of reusable packaging in e-commerce: Pioneers like Zalando are in demand.

Source: Zalando SE

Rethinking the role of reusable packaging in e-commerce:

Pioneers like Zalando are in demand.

Thomas Reiner | 21.10.2019

The dark side of the dynamically growing mail-order business is revealed when looking into the overflowing paper and waste bins. Nice if these masses of waste are easy to recycle. However, we must rethink the circular economy altogether because reusable packaging can remain directly in the cycle. Reusable packaging reduces the volume of packaging and avoids new production, as well as the associated ecological burdens. Zalando gives it a try.

Pilot project
The company is launching a four-week pilot project. 10,000 customers in Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark are to receive their goods in reusable packaging.

Benefits of reusable packaging
Reusable packaging kills two birds with one stone: it reduces the basic packaging volume and thus the amount of waste that has to be recycled. In addition, it extends the lifetime of the materials used. This also reduces the need for new production, which brings great environmental benefits. According to Zalando’s calculation, for example, it equates to a CO2 reduction of up to 80 percent.

1.) The conversion to reusable packaging requires the cooperation of the consumers. These must now return the packaging, even if they do not intend to make returns. Zalando explored in advance whether this could work through a customer survey. It will be interesting to see how big the usual gap between expression of will and actual action on the part of the consumer will be.
2.) For reusable packaging to work in practice, the concept needs to be scalable. This requires the participation of the entire e-commerce industry. Only standardized processes and centralized return facilities will ultimately help the concept to achieve a breakthrough.

Consumers want solutions, not tasks. Zalando has therefore correctly recognized that a unified system is needed for a real breakthrough in reusable packaging. An example of this is the deposit system, which allows consumers to return their returnable bottles to any supermarket, regardless of the place of purchase.

Until then, we still have a long way to go. It’s even more important that not everyone is waiting for the first step of the other. Zalando is proceeding boldly with its pilot project. The increasingly sensitive consumers in environmental and sustainability issues will appreciate this.

There is always room and possibility for meaningful steps. Be it in the direction of sustainability or digital transformation. Essential for that is the conviction to really want to tackle it. And a partner who makes your cause his own.

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We need more of that! An innovative project allows for the identification of materials in the recycling process.

We need more of that! 

An innovative project allows for the identification of materials in the recycling process.

Thomas Reiner | 18.10.2019

Three steps close the cycle: collecting, sorting and recycling. The basic requirement for sorting is that the materials collected can be identified safely and efficiently. Until now though, this is where hurdles have arisen. Fortunately, an important step in the right direction now goes to the award-winning HolyGrail project.

It is as banal as it is true: recycling can only be done by what has been clearly identified and sorted before. The most extensive collection uses little if the materials can’t be properly recognized and separated.

Without pure separation, no high-quality recyclate is possible. But that’s exactly what we need in order to close cycles without downcycling and to obtain secondary raw materials in their required, high quality. The only question is: How to label packaging materials permanently and that without functional restrictions?

The project “HolyGrail”, led by Procter & Gamble and made possible by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation within the framework of the New Plastics Economy, has tackled this issue. The focus was on two approaches, for each of which appropriate, basic proof-of-concepts were developed.
• Chemical Tracers (proof of concept: “P.R.I.S.M.”, 2018)
• Digital Watermarks (proof-of-concept: “Filigrade” and “Digimarc”, 2019)

Digital Watermarks
Existing sorting systems can be supplemented with modules that can read digital watermarks much like a barcode. In this way, for example, it is safe to distinguish between packaging for food and non-food. Colored and black packaging can be clearly distinguished, as well as recyclable and compostable packaging, multi-layer or full-body shrink sleeved bottles.
The digital marking can be invisible to the human eye via the printing process or integrated directly into the material.

HolyGrail won the first prize at this year’s Sustainability Award and at the same time secured the award ‘Driving the Circular Economy’.

The prize is well earned because a holistic design for recycling absolutely requires clearly identifiable materials. The best and most sustainable material uses little if it can’t be recognized and separated during sorting.

It is no coincidence that HolyGrail is a project that unites stakeholders from the entire value chain. The time of the lone fighters is over. The complexity of the requirements can only be solved satisfactorily as a team. Too great is the risk that the individual company, with its highly specialized expertise, will develop solutions that are later not compatible. But that’s what it’s all about when closing cycles.

With it being our mission at B+P to close cycles by helping companies get fit for the circular economy, I love finding out what your thoughts concerning the topic are. Comment below.

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