Dr. Yifat Bareket, TIPA’s CTO, recently gave a presentation entitled
“Bio compostable flexible packaging – are we asking for too much?”
at Applied Market Information’s (AMI) Multilayer Packaging Films Conference in Chicago
It was AMI’s 8th North American conference on Multilayer Packaging Films, and covered a range of current technical and commercial issues including new films and materials, barrier properties and testing, production technology (such as coextrusion and coating), applications and markets.
The conference provided an international forum for companies involved in the manufacture and specification of film packaging, from brand owners to manufacturers, converters and suppliers, and an opportunity to keep up to date with the latest developments and market trends.
Dr Bareket’s presentation began with a discussion of the global volume of plastic garbage, and the challenge that the waste from flexible packaging poses in terms of its difficulty to recycle, and its resultant end of life environmental impact.
TIPA’s approach to the flexible packaging issue is two-fold – a compostable solution with an increasing amount of bio-based ingredients. The former offers a solution to the end-of-life issues of flexible packaging, while the latter offers a sustainable solution at the start-of-life.
In conclusion Dr Bareket described TIPA’s collaboration with Jindal Films to developed an original, bio-based compostable high barrier film.
Need for education
Dr Bareket felt it was a successful conference for TIPA, albeit with some surprises, for example how many people working in the packaging industry were not familiar with compostable packaging, or the differences between terms, for example bio-based vs biodegradable.
“Some of the people who spoke to me after my presentation seemed to think that they were acting responsibly if they purchased or used bio-based materials. They don’t differentiate between the beginning of life and the end of life of a package. There is a need for education,” she concluded.
Interest in compostable packaging
While some attendees were not familiar with compostable packaging, their response to Dr Bareket’s presentation showed that they were open to innovation in the field. For those that were familiar with compostable packaging, price was a consideration.
The market is changing
Brand owners are increasingly optimizing packaging to use the minimum required for optimum product quality, safety and environmental impact. Millennials, now the single largest buying group, which in the USA comprises 85 million people, are as such a particularly important demographic.
“The market for multilayer packaging films is changing due to Millennials – the demographic aged between 26 and 34 years of age,” said Dr Bareket. “80% … 90% of the speakers talked about the influence of Millennials’ habits, new habits such as wanting restaurant quality meals at home, and how they are influencing not just the technology, but the whole industry.”
“Millennials have significant purchasing power and their preferences will increasingly drive the future of food packaging,” said Dr Bareket. “They spend approximately $600bn globally annually, and they demand tailor-made, healthy and fresh food in sustainable and reasonably size packaging. Smaller “right-sized” packaging is particularly important to fit with their on-the-go lifestyles, and also the awareness of the amount of food that is being thrown away.”