Circular economy, always circular economy: Rarely has the focus of our industry been so clear and massive. At Fachpack, too, it was possible to observe how strongly the industry’s actions are shaped by mastering the challenges surrounding the circular economy. This could be observed very vividly in the area of flexible packaging. However, the crowning glory of the highly exciting innovation competition was seen in the cup solutions presented. Anyone who wasn’t at Fachpack really missed out. There is light on the circular horizon. In our article, we summarize some particularly exciting developments for you.
“Environmentally friendly packaging” was the guiding theme of Fachpack 2021. For the industry, this means above all: closing loops and establishing a circular economy. Rarely has the focus of an entire industry been so clear. And rarely has such massive and exciting innovation competition been observed.
In the area of flexible packaging, the companies presented a variety of recyclable monomaterial approaches based on PP and PE. In parallel, there was also a significantly expanded and improved range of paper-based packaging solutions that substitute plastic.
The incredible innovation competition that companies are currently engaged in was particularly evident in the cup solutions that were presented.
- Cardboard-plastic combinations
- With the companies Fernholz and the injection molding specialist Spies, new innovators are expanding the market for hybrids of plastic and paper. They bring new solutions and even more competition for the well-known top dogs.
- The Greiner company presented an outstanding advancement. The Austrians presented K3® r100, a self-separating cup innovation. The special highlight of the recycling cup: in the waste disposal process, the cardboard wrap opens by itself without further human intervention and exposes the plastic cup. The result: more than 90 percent recyclability. By using a PP board, recyclability can even be increased to up to 98 percent.
- Use of recycled materials
- The Fernholz company presented cups on the market that are produced as standard with 35 percent PS recyclate from the solvent process (Trinseo Dissolution). The recycled content of the cups, which are used by Arla and Zott, among others, is to be increased to 50 percent in the medium term. The required rPS quantities appear to be available at comparatively low additional cost. While the competing PP recyclates are still significantly more expensive and limited in availability, PS has clearly made significant progress and can provide strong evidence of its recycling capabilities.
- “Digital ecosystem” to ensure circular economy
- As a world premiere, the Paccor company presented a technical cloud solution that enables all participants in the value chain to access product data worldwide. This cloud solution is made possible not least by a digital watermark from Digimarc on the packaging.
Light on the horizon
Many companies in the packaging industry have now become aware that there is no circular economy without innovations. Players are working intensively and at full speed to improve the ecological profiles of their packaging. The use of recyclate is picking up speed and is now also reaching high-value food applications. This is an important step.
Circular economy is not a sprint, but a marathon. There is still a lot to be done. But the development is going in the right direction – and it is producing good results. This makes us optimistic that the packaging turnaround towards a true circular economy can succeed.