Company’s manufacturing plant in Debrecen, Hungary achieves ISCC PLUS recognition, broadening its eco-certified materials stream for tubes.
Thun, Switzerland – Hoffmann Neopac, a global provider of high-quality packaging for Pharma, Cosmetics and FMCG Industries, has successfully completed an audit conducted by the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC) at its tube manufacturing facility in Debrecen, Hungary.
Julia and Hannah, together with a cross-functional team you pushed for the new, more sustainable packaging of the NIVEA Natural Balance face care range. How did this happen and how did you find Sabic as a partner?
Hannah: Identifying sustainable raw materials and using them for packaging has long been an important topic for us in Packaging. Our aim is to explore innovative approaches that can reduce or replace our fossil raw materials. In this process, we carried out an extensive market research and looked at what alternative materials and technologies are available. We wanted to find a partner who could deliver a truly sustainable approach and reliable, high-quality materials. Among these requirements, Sabic's concept was particularly convincing.
Julia: We see Sabic as a pioneer in this field and their so-called feedstock concept is based on tall oil, a by-product from forestry. This means that, unlike "first generation" feedstocks such as sugar cane or corn, there is no competition with the food production – that was very important to us. Once we had found Sabic as a cooperation partner, things moved quickly. The commitment of the teams was there right from the start, so we were able to quickly put the idea into practice and start producing the new and more sustainable packaging.
What exactly is different about the new packaging? And how do you save fossil raw materials with it?
Hannah: Visually, the new renewable plastic packaging is indistinguishable from other plastic packaging. This is because the certified renewable plastic we use has no visual effects, impairments, or other special properties. Also, the material safety and recyclability is 1:1 just like fossil-based plastic packaging. That's really great, because when we chose the new material it was also very important to us to ensure a 100% recyclability – so that we don't have to compromise in this area. How we save fossil-based raw materials? It’s simple: In the production process of the plastic tall oil instead of crude oil is being added. The certified renewable polymers used for our packaging are based on a so-called mass balance system in accordance with the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC PLUS) scheme.
It doesn't sound that hard, but it's a big step ...
Julia: In fact, you have to dare to go new ways and build up new relationships with suppliers in order to open up to new markets for raw materials. This is a big effort and doesn't happen by itself. We want to be a transformation accelerator, actively driving change across our company and the industry. The more companies come on board to this sustainable approach of mass balancing, the greater the impact. We are currently a pioneer in our industry, but we would like to see the entire industry pulling together in the future to conserve resources and save CO2.
What has excited and driven you the most in this project? And what do you think about the fact that "your baby" will soon be on the shelves?
Hannah: It was great to see how much all colleagues – across many different functions – united on this topic and how fast you can be when the entire team is passionate about what they do. It took just nine months from the first idea to the first products on the shelves. The Can-Do spirit was amazing and omnipresent. Many thanks at this point to the entire project team for implementing and driving the project forward!
Julia: It was also exciting to see which new paths we took – because to become more sustainable, we have to go much deeper into our supply chain, look for new solutions together and build new relationships to suppliers. Becoming more sustainable means driving material development forward. It's about strategic partnerships beyond the tier 1 suppliers and bringing them together with our direct suppliers. Also, from this point of view, the whole process was a super exciting experience!
Shareholder advocacy firm As You Sow submitted a proposal requesting shareholders vote to have Amazon issue a report on packaging materials, citing the ocean plastics crisis that fatally impacting marine species and damages marine ecosystems.
“Amazon does not disclose how much plastic packaging it uses but is believed to be one of the largest corporate users of flexible plastic packaging, which cannot be recycled,” according to the proposal.
As You So alleged that Amazon has no goal to make all of its packaging recyclable and said up to 22 million pounds of its plastic packaging waste entered the world’s marine ecosystems last year.
“Shareholders request that the board of directors issue a report by December 2021 on plastic packaging, estimating the amount of plastics released to the environment due to plastic packaging attributable to all Amazon operations, and beginning with the manufacture of the plastic source materials, through disposal or recycling, and describing any company strategies or goals to reduce the use of plastic packaging to reduce these impacts.”
Amazon countered by noting its initiatives and its founding membership in The Climate Pledge, as well as its commitment that 50% of all Amazon shipments will be net-zero carbon by 2030, and renewable energy programs that “have put us on a path to powering our operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025.”
“We recognize the importance of reducing plastic waste by promoting reusable and recyclable packaging. As described in more detail below, including with respect to our goals, we have made progress in four primary areas in our efforts to reduce our use of plastics:
(1) plastics in packaging for products manufactured by other companies that we sell to our customers (where we can make the biggest impact),
(2) plastics in packaging to the extent we repackage a product for delivery,
(3) plastics in Amazon devices and our private label products, and
(4) plastics in physical stores, primarily Whole Foods Market and its use of plastic shopping bags and plastic straws.”
Amazon said it has a goal of having the packaging for Amazon devices be plastic-free and made up of entirely curbside recyclable material by 2023. “We will continue to share our efforts and progress to our shareholders and the public,” and the Board recommended that shareholders vote against the proposal.
06 May 2021 --- Instead of decrying plastic packaging as the root of environmental degradation, Philipp Pap, director of sustainability and corporate development at Coveris, is arguing the material could help lead industry to the opposite outcome.
The plastic packaging industry is “part of the solution” to environmental challenges like climate change rather than the cause, he tells PackagingInsights.
As a plastic packaging supplier, Coveris focuses on addressing waste in all its forms and reconceiving it as a valuable resource. “We focus our sustainability efforts on the idea of no waste of our products, our packaging or in our operations, enforcing recycling and second life approaches,” says Pap.
In this exclusive interview, Pap shares his views on the potential consequences of the anti-plastic movement on food waste prevention and global recycling efforts.
“Evil plastic” reduces food waste
Both single-use plastic use and accumulating CO2 emissions are increasingly viewed as detrimental to the environment. And legislative action is afoot – while the EU Single-Use Plastic Directive will ban the ten highest polluting disposable plastic items from July, the UN Paris Agreement is working to limit global warming to below 2°C, preferably to 1.5°C.
Pap highlights “the planet’s significant food waste problem” as a key climate change contributor. Despite global hunger continuing to rise, the Food and Agriculture Organization estimates a third of all food produced globally is lost or goes to waste. Crucially, food loss and waste produces up to 6 percent of global CO2 emissions.
Plastic packaging helps avoid food waste due to its barrier qualities and ability to extend shelf life, Pap points out.
Returning to carbon emissions, Pap says a maximum of 10 percent of CO2 emissions from an average packed food product results from its packaging. “This very much shows how the debate is biased toward the wrong subject in our opinion.”
“We believe the current discussions around plastics should be more data-based and built on scientific evidence. If that were done, we would realize plastic packaging has a pivotal role in reducing CO2 emissions via a significant reduction of food waste,” he stresses.
“The less we protect food with packaging, the more food waste is produced and the higher the CO2 emissions.”
Playing devil’s advocate
Plastic is not the only material on the market protecting food throughout supply chain transit.
Innova Market Insights’ third top packaging trend for 2021, “Fiber-Based Frenzy,” has spotlighted an accelerated movement to launch paper-based alternatives in fresh produce packaging and other food categories.
However, Pap highlights both glass and paper packaging require more material input than plastic, resulting in higher CO2 emissions. He adds that paper does not provide the same performance in terms of balancing barrier qualities with minimal material usage.
The trifecta to solidify recycling efforts
In Pap’s view, plastic packaging is “here to stay for a reason” and recycling is vital to keeping plastic in the circular economy. Currently, there are three main challenges – and critical success factors – to increasing the plastic packaging recycling rate:
- Public investment into waste collection.
- Public and private investment into chemical recycling.
- Legislative support to allow the use of recycled materials.
More studies are still needed to bolster waste collection systems. Packaging producers are in need of higher volumes of recycled plastic to actually increase recycled content, Pap flags.
Meanwhile, the need for chemical recycling is a topic which “has not called for sufficient attention in the past.” Chemical recycling can turn recycled plastic waste into food-grade packaging materials. “The technology is there but there are insufficient capacities out on the market so far,” Pap maintains.
Lacking food-grade recycled plastics supply brings about a third industry headache: governments’ role in supporting and incentivizing the use of recycling.
“At the moment, food products are already frequently packed with recyclable packaging solutions but legislation does not actually permit for the use of recycled materials,” he explains.
Coveris feeds nearly all of its production waste back into the manufacturing process where legislation allows and has established local Green Teams at its production sites to continuously reduce waste.
The manufacturer’s R&D teams devise product solutions made with mono-materials for enhanced recyclability. The manufacturer also develops packaging with recycled content, such as its 100 percent recycled Duralite-R film.
Can the packaging loop ever be fully closed? Pap argues it can be. “The question is how many times materials can go through the loop before they are no longer usable, or if the cost, effort and CO2 impact are too high to justify such efforts.”
“We all have a responsibility – consumers, retailers, producers and the government – to work toward closing that loop.”
By Anni Schleicher
PP accounts for around 20% of the world’s plastic. It is mostly used in pots, tubs, trays and films for food packaging, but it is also prevalent in non-food household and personal care products.
At this time precious resources are wasted when PP packaging is either down-cycled or going to waste-to-energy or landfill. As of now there is no possibility to make food-grade PP using mechanically recycled material – all PP food packaging needs to be made from virgin plastics or from rPP that was created through chemical recycling.
Besides packaging suppliers such as CCL Label brand-owners, universities and industry associations as well as end-users in the PP supply chain are supporting the initiative. The goal is to produce the first high-quality FGrPP (food-grade recycled PP) that will be available in the UK by 2022.
“We have two main reasons to be actively involved with NEXTLOOPP. First of all, the tracers to improve the sortability of polypropylene packaging will most likely be on the labels and sleeves on the pack. As the largest producer of labels we are happy to support to creating the ideal markers with our expertise. Secondly many of our solutions are made from the versatile polypropylene material and we want to include more recycled food grade PP into our products in the future. This is why we are joining the efforts to get the basics right and to establish a great opportunity to create more high-quality recyclate that has a much lower carbon footprint than virgin material”, says Marika Knorr, head of sustainability and communication at CCL Label.
Professor Edward Kosior, founder and CEO of Nextek Ltd, explains that creating a circular economy for food-grade PP packaging waste fills the enormous gap in the packaging recycling sector and helps reach Net Zero Carbon targets. “It will allow brand owners to meet their recycling targets and significantly reduce the use of virgin plastics from petrochemicals. It will also greatly reduce CO2 emissions and divert waste from landfill and waste-to-energy.”
The K3 thermoformed cup uses up to 33 per cent less PP than a conventional direct-printed, thermoformed cup of the same size, claims Greiner. To enable separation for recycling, the cup is wrapped with a removable cardboard outer layer, which can be produced with virgin or recycled board produced from sustainably managed forests.
“The next step, which will make separation for recycling even easier, will be the implementation of our new, improved tear-tab, which will be introduced very soon,” said Greiner Packaging’s sales director, Josef Zicha.
“We began working on reducing the weight of Olma’s packaging two years ago and the project is ongoing,” he continued. “The challenge is to find optimal weight reduction for cups, while ensuring that they remain stable in the production and filling process and during transport to retailers, and then into consumer’s homes across Czechia, Slovakia and Poland.”
Nowadays, those who shop for food in discount stores will almost always be buying plastic packaging as well. The vast majority of sausage, cheese, meat and fish is pre-packed. Fresh fruit, salad and vegetables too often come in plastic packaging. This method is hygienic and protects the food on its journey to the home. However, mineral oil-based plastics are contributing to the growing waste mountain.
In Germany, a total of 38.5 kilograms of plastic packaging waste per capita was generated in 2017 alone. This plastic waste floats on the oceans or is exported to Asian or African countries for disposal. Exposed to environmental factors, these large plastic items break down into microplastics, which eventually make their way into the food chain. Reducing plastic packaging in the food sector as well, then, is a matter of necessity.
The Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV and the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB have now presented an innovative and sustainable solution for food packaging. Just as with conventional packaging, it keeps the food fresher for longer. The new packaging, though, involves no plastic whatsoever. After use, it can be recycled without a problem.
Proteins, waxes and antioxidants extend the shelf life of the food
In the “BioActiveMaterials” project, the researchers use paper as the base material for producing typical and functional packaging materials: resealable bags or wrapping paper. The paper is provided with a special coating using standard processes. The researchers make this coating from proteins and waxes with biobased additives. The special formulation of this coating, which offers long-term stability, performs several functions at the same time.
“First, the proteins act as an oxygen barrier layer while the waxes form a water vapor barrier, preventing fruit, for example, from drying out quickly. Second, the biobased additives have an antioxidative and antimicrobial effect. This stops meat and fish spoiling as quickly. Overall, the food has a much longer shelf life,” explains Dr. Michaela Müller, Head of the Functional Surfaces and Materials Innovation Field at Fraunhofer IGB.
The proteins in the coating also play specific roles. They prevent mineral oil permeation from the paper to the food. Recovered paper in particular contains residues of mineral oil-containing printer’s ink.
The coated papers developed as part of the “BioActiveMaterials” project are an alternative to the packaging currently used for all kinds of food, no matter whether fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, cheese or even confectionery. Consumers can store and handle the paper-packed foods in exactly the same way as the food packed in plastic today.
“Our paper-based packaging is also suitable for goods that have to be chilled, meat for example. The anti-oxidant function remains,” adds Müller. This packaging can even be used for frozen foods. “After use, the packaging is placed in the waste paper recycling bin, the coating is biodegradable and does not impede the recycling process,” says Dr. Cornelia Stramm, Head of Department at the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV.
The Fraunhofer Institutes have pressed ahead with the project in close-knit teams. While the scientists at Fraunhofer IGB have taken care of the complex formulation and production of the coating, the researchers at Fraunhofer IVV were testing how well the coating works in practice.
“We have tested, for example, how effectively the coating protects the food against external influences such as water vapor, oxygen and mineral oil”, explains Stramm.
The team at Fraunhofer IVV also made sure the coating was capable of being applied to the paper using roll-to-roll technology. This is done using a machine on which the paper is guided over rolls. The coating is applied as an aqueous dispersion.
Proteins from waste materials, waxes from Brazil and North Mexico
When selecting the raw materials for the “BioActiveMaterials” project, the team chose natural substances approved for use in the food industry. For the protein element, for example, they experimented with rapeseed, lupins, whey or sunflowers. In practice, agricultural operations could deliver unused waste materials from production to the packaging industry. Turning to the waxes, the researchers went for beeswax and wax produced from the candelilla bush native to northern Mexico and from the Brazilian carnauba palm.
“We decided on these waxes because they are biodegradable, approved for food contact and readily available on the market,” explains Müller.
Conventional laboratory techniques, such as crushing, heating, agitating and mixing, are employed in production.
“The skill is in the mixing ratio and the sequence in which the individual substances are added. The flexibility with the ratio when mixing the different substances also allows us to optimize the coating for specific applications,” says Müller.
Packaging for meat, for example, containing more antioxidants, could have a particularly strong antimicrobial and antioxidative effect, whereas a wax coating protects salad packed in a pouch especially well against drying out.
Advantages for producers, retailers and consumers
The researchers have even thought of the very practical aspects. The bioactive coating can be used for cardboard as well as paper. And printing on the packaging is no problem either. A producer could print on their logo or the nutrition information required under food law. Discount stores and food retailers will also benefit from the Fraunhofer packaging. Because consumers are following the trend towards resource-efficient, biodegradable and plastic-free packaging.
The project partners at Fraunhofer IVV and Fraunhofer IGB are already experimenting with concepts for applying the coating directly to foods such as fruit or vegetables, thereby extending their shelf life. Edible coatings are harmless to health by their very nature.
‘Greening the Green’: PepsiCo to make snack packaging 100 percent recyclable, teams up with Clean Up AustraliaNews:
PepsiCo’s portfolio includes some of the most recognisable snack brands in Australia including Smith’s, Red Rock Deli, Sakata, and Doritos. With final snack packaging design changes underway, by the end of the year consumers will be able to recycle all of their PepsiCo snack packaging via their home curb side recycling for cardboard and plastic trays, and REDcycle collection bins for soft plastic packaging.
“Increased recycling rates are critical to the success of a circular economy for soft plastics. Key to this is making packaging recyclable and easy to recycle. We are proud to have achieved the first step – designing 100 percent of our snacks packaging to be recyclable – meeting Australia’s 2025 National Packaging Target four years ahead of schedule,” said PepsiCo Australia and New Zealand Chief Marketing Officer, Vandita Pandey.
The final packaging update will also see 100 percent of PepsiCo’s snack packaging carry the Australasian Recycling Logo (ARL) by the end of the year.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Clean Up Australia to work with REDcycle to help educate consumers on what can be recycled and create more opportunities to make it easier for Australians to recycle their soft plastics through the Greening Green program at sporting facilities around the country”.
PepsiCo pledged $650,000 at the Australian Government’s National Plastics Summit in 2020, to establish Greening the Green – an innovative new program developed by Clean Up Australia, that partners with REDcycle and Replas to work with local sporting facilities to streamline rubbish separation and collection, and increase soft plastics recycling.
A pilot is underway at ELS Hall Park in Ryde, NSW. A further 19 sporting grounds across Australia have signed up to the program with a total of 110 to be included over the next two years.
Greening the Green consists of a 12-week program to improve littering and rubbish collection via an interactive online learning experience. Facilities have the option of collecting valuable recyclables such as soft plastics and beverage containers through specific bins placed in high usage areas. Soft plastics are collected by REDcycle, shredded and delivered to Replas, where they are moulded into useful equipment such as seating, bollards, signage and even sports trophies. Each participating sporting group is gifted a new piece of equipment made from recycled soft plastics, highlighting the benefits a circular economy can bring to the local community.
Minister for the Environment, the Hon Sussan Ley, said that the National Plastic Summit and the Morrison Government’s commitment to establishing recycling as one of six national manufacturing priorities are key to helping change the national conversation.
“We are seeing companies like PepsiCo standing up to address a real issue with ‘soft’ plastic waste and I congratulate them along with, Clean Up Australia and REDcycle for this initiative,” Minister Ley said.
“Greening the Green shows that we can all play a role in recycling and creating a healthier environment and a healthier lifestyle.”
Clean Up Australia Chair Pip Kiernan highlighted the growing problem of soft plastics with volunteers reporting that they are now one of the more common plastic items removed during local Clean Ups.
“Volunteers are telling us that soft plastics are one of the more common plastic items they are now removing during local Clean Ups. And each year the volume of these soft plastics is rising. Greening the Green gives us the ideal opportunity to begin to change Australia’s recycling habits head-on, starting at the place where so many of us spend family time on weekends – our local sporting venues. This program will show Australians that the soft plastics we take for granted as packaging can be transformed into items the community can use. It’s recycling in action,” said Clean Up Australia Chairman, Pip Kiernan.
“REDcycle is proud to partner with PepsiCo. We commend the responsible and tangible steps the company has taken to address recyclability of their packaging and support the transition to a circular economy through campaigns like Greening the Green,” said RED Group Director, Elizabeth Kasell.
“The City of Ryde is proud to partner with Clean Up Australia, PepsiCo and the Ryde Hawks Baseball League as part of the Greening the Green pilot program. As a Council we are committed to reducing waste and encouraging recycling throughout our community, and the Greening the Green initiative is an innovative program that will go a long way to help us achieve these goals,” said City of Ryde Mayor, Jerome Laxale.
“We are excited to be involved in this initiative. We have various games taking place at our grounds, especially on weekends, with a great number of families spending time here. Having clearly badged bins placed in and around our grounds will encourage users of all ages to do the right thing.” said Ryde Hawks Baseball League Head Coach, Matt O’Neill. “It is amazing to think that the trophies our players receive in the future could be made of recycled soft plastic as a result of this program”.
Company’s Switzerland facilities are now fully powered by renewable electricity via hydroelectric power and an extensive new solar plant.
Thun, Switzerland – Hoffmann Neopac, a global provider of high-quality packaging for a broad array of industries and applications, has installed one of the largest solar power systems in Switzerland. The extensive green energy initiative, which costs more than 2 million Swiss Francs ($2.2 million), will make Hoffmann Neopac fully electricity sustainable at each of its two manufacturing sites in its home country.
In its capacity as a solution provider and technology integrator, Greiner Assistec draws on its extensive solutions expertise in the production of innovative, functional plastics. And its collaboration with German startup innoME, a pioneer in the sensor technology space, has now delivered an impressive result: the development of a smart petri dish.
• First proof of concept for thermoformed plastic parts with printed sensor systems
• Smart petri dish prototype
• Strategic partnership with innoME (accensors)