Technology Enablers for Sustainable Flexible Packaging – Post Webinar Report

Sustainable Flexible Packaging

Packaging360, an online knowledge sharing platform, organized a webinar on “Technology Enablers for Sustainable Flexible Packaging”. It was a privilege to have three technology leaders, Henkel, DSM Coating Resins Ltd & Siegwerk, address the theme of the webinar from the lens of Adhesives, Coatings & Printing inks respectively.

Dr. Dennis Bankmann, Senior Manager Circular Economy, Packaging & Consumer Goods Henkel, began his narrative by referring Henkel s an integral player in the packaging value chain, which is dedicated to driving innovations for more sustainability in production and packaging. Additionally, Henkel is a brand owner itself, with first-hand experience with regard to the industry’s needs.  Therefore, adhesives and coatings are designed particularly with recycling in mind, as they are able to effectively bond multiple compatible layers and have excellent mechanical recycling properties.

Sustainability is a task for the entire packaging industry, regardless of one’s place in the value chain. As a leader in adhesive technologies, Henkel is committed to actively supporting a circular economy by making it possible to return high-quality materials into the loop after use – turning waste back into valuable resources. The adhesives used in packages typically only make up no more than 5 percent of the total weight while their properties can actually make the difference when it comes to the overall recyclability of the material. With its new RE range that is “designed for recycling,” Henkel is introducing a range of adhesives and coatings that both improve the recyclability of flexible packaging and make it possible to use recycled content in new packaging.

Henkel is also committed to cross-industry initiatives for sustainable packaging. Henkel is a founding member of a new initiative focusing on plastic waste, the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW). Close to 30 international companies along the value chain for plastics and consumer goods have joined forces to tackle the global challenge of a circular economy together. The aim of the alliance is to promote solutions that put a stop to plastic waste in the environment, especially in the ocean. Another example is our membership in the New Plastics Economy (NPEC), an initiative led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation that brings key stakeholders together to rethink and reshape the future of plastics and build momentum toward a circular economy. In October 2018, the New Plastics Economy introduced its Global Commitment, which has been signed by more than 400 organizations – including Henkel. The collective goal is to stop plastic waste and pollution at the source. Henkel is also founding member of CEFLEX, a consortium of more than 130 European companies and organizations aiming to make flexible packaging – which usually consists of multiple layers of film or foil that are often difficult to separate – easier to recycle.

Henkel began working together with the German start-up Saperatec in 2016, with the aim of developing and enhancing customized recyclable adhesives. This collaboration led to the creation of tailor-made adhesives that are compatible with Saperatec’s technology. Together with Henkel, Saperatec offers manufacturers an innovative and cost-efficient recycling technology that makes it possible to reintroduce production waste consisting of polyethylene (PE), aluminum and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) into the raw-material cycle, also thanks to the right adhesive design.

Henkel is committed to actively supporting a circular economy by making it possible to return high-quality materials into the loop after use – turning waste back into valuable resources. For Henkel a circular economy covers:

Biobased and circular raw materials
Compatibility with recycling
New designs

Ms. Jacqueline Revet, Global Marketing Manager & Mr. Juan Guerrero, Industry Manager, Printing & Packaging at DSM Coating Resins highlighted the role of sustainable coatings in industry media & pointed to six major trends in moving towards sustainable packaging: Environmental concerns, food safety & preservation, E commerce, digitization in packaging industry, consumer convenience & evolution in printing technologies.

DSM aspires to develop the most sustainable product portfolio within the industry. DSM will accelerate the phase-out all chemicals of high concern from finished products. The company has already started this journey and it’s their ambition to have no sales of products containing chemicals of high concerns by 2025.  On average about 90% of the carbon footprint of every kg of products DSM sell is caused by the raw materials they use. Therefore, they have a target to reduce indirect value chain emissions by 28% per ton of product produced by 2030 (vs 2016). To accelerate this carbon-footprint reduction, DSM Resins and Functional Materials commits to ensuring by 2030 that at least 30% of the raw materials it sources are bio-based and/or recycled materials.

The move to more attractive, lightweight, flexible packaging brings with it, fantastic advantages for people, brands and, potentially, the planet – not least convenience and ease of use. Meanwhile, the latest developments in luxury packaging are opening up entirely new worlds for brands to explore when engaging their customers.

However, these innovations present major challenges for the coatings and packaging industry. Non-migration of materials in food is one. Adhesion and cohesion in multi-layer laminate systems is another. Creating a genuinely original sensory brand experience is another. And achieving all this responsibly and sustainably – without adding matting agents and toxic compounds – is perhaps the biggest challenge of all.

At DSM, packaging coating innovations are solving these challenges for the industry – via a range of resin technologies, including waterborne, UV cure, powder and solvent borne. And all while delivering an outstanding look, feel (and touch).

DSM’s high-performance monomaterial packaging is just one example of the trends emerging using the latest coating resin technology.

Mr. Jatin Takkar, Head Product safety & Regulatory at Siegwerk & Mr. Vinay Bhardwaj, Vice President – Flexible Packaging and Tobacco at Siegwerk India, presented their insights on the theme from the perspective of printing inks & their contribution towards ensuring safe & sustainable inks for flexible packaging sector.

Mr. Takkar began by alluding to some of the major events which have led to mishaps, eventually leading to an ecosystem in safety & regulations for all FCM.

In India, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through the regulation and supervision of food safety. FSSAI has been established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. FSSAI is now revamping their standard on Packaging and Labelling, and is laying more emphasis on packaging safety by bringing a specific regulation focused on food safety aspects of the packaging material. The standard prescribes that any material used for packaging, preparation, storing, wrapping, transportation and sale or service of food shall be of food grade quality (“Food grade” refers to materials made of substances which are safe and suitable for their intended use which shall not endanger human health and bring change in the composition of food or organoleptic characteristics). FSSAI has always promoted the principle of self-discipline in the industry, which eventually helps the brand owners to apply best practices available globally and produce safe products for the consumer.

Packaging regulation prescribed by FSSAI is a more stringent version of the current regulation and now encompasses more elements such as paper, metal, packaging inks etc. FSSAI now prescribes that printing inks for use on food packages shall conform to IS 15495. The standard is being developed by Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and will be mandatory post FSSAI notification of the regulation.

Packaging supply chain needs to understand the standard in order to ensure the adherence to the prescribed standard. Hence, Siegwerk being in the forefront of championing the cause of food safety, has made efforts to document the standard for the easy understanding and implementation.

The Indian Standard IS 15495:2004 ‘Printing Ink for food packaging – Code of Practice’ prescribes guidelines for printing inks for use in food packages. The standard differentiates between four categories of printing inks and gives guidance on the formulation of the respective inks

It is very important to understand that packaging safety can only be implemented when packaging supply chain partners share information among each other and follow an integrated approach. Integrated Packaging Supply chain is the key to success of packaging safety implementation.

Mr. Vinay Bhardwaj began with the belief that Inks and coatings are critically important for the recyclability of packaging. Inks and coatings play an essential role in the realization of a Circular Economy in the packaging industry. Due to their technical functionalities they concretely enable the implementation of all three levers in terms of reduction, reuse and recycling of packaging.

Innovative inks and coatings offer the opportunity to close technical performance gaps of certain materials, such as paper and mono-plastic, improving their properties and therefore allowing their use for new applications. Inks and coatings enable e.g. the switch from multi-material plastic to mono-material plastic packaging while maintaining the functionality of the original packaging such as the protection of food and thereby create recyclability of packaging components.

For reusable packaging different ink properties are required for each use cycle. While e.g. the best-before date might have to change with each use, the brand design should stay on the packaging across all use cycles. Here, inks and coatings play a crucial role to provide reusability with maximum cost-efficiency to achieve economies of scale.

Moreover, inks and coatings are critically important for the recyclability of packaging. This requires solutions that do not hinder the recycling process and are e.g. PVC-free. In this context, deinking of packaging is a major topic. The right selection of inks and coatings ensures that only product residues are removed during the washing process, but no color is discharged into the washing water. Good deinking properties of inks and coatings improve the recyclability of packaging and therefore support the transformation of packaging waste into a new valuable resource according to a Circular Economy.

Today, Siegwerk already has a strong track record in customer-specific ink development projects for circular packaging solutions that either increase recyclability, allow composting or reduce the need for plastic use and other non-renewable raw materials.

To realize a Circular Economy, packaging needs to be rethought based on “Design 4 Less” and “Design 4 Recycling” solutions. DESIGN 4 LESS means meeting the packaging demand with using less packaging by eliminating packaging components, using less plastic by substituting it with renewable materials such as paper and introducing new business models for reuse concepts. With wrapper-less ice cream, paper-packed snack bars, re-fillable packs or transparent mono-plastic packaging there are already some greatly improved packaging solutions on the market.

DESIGN 4 RECYCLING aims at increasing the recyclability of packaging by rethinking its design, e.g. by moving from multi-material to mono-plastic packaging or phasing out of materials like PVC. Going forward, reducing and recycling of packaging will play a tremendously important role.

Based on the poll conducted during the session, the 180 participants were fairly well conversant with the concept of monomaterial, ban on toluene in printing inks & recycled content in PET bottles. This augurs well for the packaging sustainability communication & commitment amongst the various stakeholders.

References: Websites of participating companies & presentations delivered during the webinar.

You can watch the webinar, right here !

Packaging 360 is a comprehensive knowledge sharing ecosystem for the Indian packaging industry. Our services include an online content platform to deliver news, insights and case studies; organising conferences seminars and customised training; Providing Bespoke Project Consulting, Market Research and Intelligence.

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