Interview with Tal Neuman, SVP Product & Co-Founder of Tipa
Jonny Ive, the designer behind some of Apple’s most popular and iconic products once said, “Products are a form of communication — they demonstrate your value system, what you care about.” Products as a form of communication and demonstration of a value system is a philosophy that is also at the heart of Tipa’s approach to innovation, particularly that of Tal Neuman, SVP Product, who with Daphna Nissenbaum is the Co-Founder of the company.
Driven by their passion for sustainability the Tipa team approached the issue of flexible packaging by asking the questions that no one else in the industry was asking. Questions like, “What is the end-of-life of these enormous amounts of packaging after we use it?” According to Tal, “There lies the real environmental challenge. Those packages have no significant waste management solution, they end up in landfills, mountains of plastic waste that will stay there hundreds of years. We as consumers have the responsibility to change the way we perceive our food packaging we must treat it differently and try to make it a resource again in our life cycle so it will drive and contribute to a sustainable society.”
Tal continues, “Actually this is the big challenge that the plastic industry is facing today – the food industry is the number one contributor to the packaging waste. Now, what are the options of the plastic waste management? Rigid packaging can be recycled. Actually 30% is being recycled worldwide. For this segment there is a solution. Flexible packaging on the other hand – has no waste management solution – these packages cannot be recycled so they are ether being incinerated or are ending up in landfill.”
Which is why when Tal and Daphna founded Tipa in June 2010, where others saw the difficulties of waste management around flexible packaging, Tal looked through the lens of an industrial designer with a lifestyle approach on Tipa’s vision of treating food flexible packaging like an orange peel… Like an organic waste, a natural resource…
According to Tal, “ When TIPA was founded it was based on the understanding that we must change our perspective about flexible packaging, we must think differently on how we handle these packages and make sure that we can actually treat them as an organic waste.”
“The basic idea is actually an orange peel. A package that would behave like an orange peel. A biodegradable package that we can eat or drink the content and throw the package into the organic waste bin. We created flexible food packaging that looks, feels and gives the same properties as conventional plastics, on one hand, but on the other hand – post consumption – it just degrades biologically and becomes a fertilizer that can be used to fertilize the soil again. Tipa technology actually imitates the natural recycling process.”
“The food industry operates on a complicated, high quality mechanical standards, which makes it difficult to come up with a compostable effective packaging to support both ecological and functionality requirements. This was the technological challenge we’ve faced. When we started we understood how big the challenge is and that the existing technologies are far from being ready. Although bioplastic material has existed for few years, it has been used for very specific uses like for agriculture or waste bags, simple applications, because those materials failed on the existing production lines, they tend to break easily and are sensitive to heat and humidity, have poor permeability rates, yellowish color and they lack transparency… so we took this challenge and turned it to a great opportunity.”
“We based our technology on 3 steps – all patent pending and specialized knowhow through all the supply chain, and with that we worked with those new materials on existing machinery to prove their mechanical applicability.”
- Resins series – as 1st step we used existing raw materials in a new way, modifying and controlling their properties and compounding them to new resin blends, new materials with advanced properties.
- Films series – the 2nd step was defining unique structures, based on the new formulations, for co-extruded films in order to create films with similar mechanical, optical and barrier properties to conventional plastics like Polypropylene or Polyethylene. We developed several film types for standalone applications, barrier, sealing and printing films as required for food packaging applications.
- Laminates series – the 3rd step was the designing of high quality laminates like the industry uses today. High barrier transparent or coated laminates printable and applicable on existing machinery – to produce a vast range of applications like Pouches, zipper bags etc. Based on the unique knowledge that we’ve gained, we offer the final packaging material, the whole solution that can replace the common conventional laminates used for dry and oily foods, fresh produce, bakery cold cuts, snacks, supplements and more.
In conclusion Tal said, “TIPA approaches the food industry in a unique way and brings revolutionary technology to the food flexible packaging industry. We offer the brands, the consumer, the manufacturers a new solution for post consumption, and avoiding the continuous contamination of our planet. From now on we can believe that bioplastic flexible packaging can be treated differently – like an organic waste – and go fully back to nature and become a resource again in our life.”