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Intelligently designed biodegradable packaging
Source：International Plastics News for Asia
Date Published：6/27/2019 12:06:22 PM
For plastic packaging, Mondi unveils its EcoSolutions that are environment-friendly and sustainable by design.
The launch of the first New Plastics Economy Global Commitment (NPEGC) last 14th of March 2019 in Vienna, Austria has led businesses to double efforts in eliminating plastics waste and thereby contribute to a better world. The NPEGC initiative, led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, was established to work towards eliminating plastic pollution and creating 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable plastic packaging by 2025.
To address this, one of the world’s leading producers of kraft paper and paper bags has come up with flexible plastic solutions, aiming to reduce the amount of plastic required by 70%. Mondi, a global leader in packaging solutions, has many innovative answers to reduce plastic waste. The company first started collaborating with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in 2017, and then later joined the NPEGC initiative in 2018.
For innovative paper and plastic packaging, Mondi unveils its EcoSolutions that are environment-friendly and sustainable by design. The company also recently presented a completely recyclable stand-up pouch, its monomaterial BarrierPack Recyclable, with removable wrap-around label which it developed within the Recyclate Initiative and according to the Cradle-to-Cradle principle.
Sustainable biodegradable pouch
For pre-made packaging needs, Mondi offers its BarrierPack Recyclable stand-up pouch that is 100% recyclable. The pouch, constructed from two layers of polyethylene (PE), is made with stiffer, stronger and lighter material. This makes the BarrierPack Recyclable better than a conventional PET/PE laminate of the same thickness. BarrierPack Recyclable pouch also offers the added benefit of a high processing/fill rate and can formed directly on form/fill/seal (FFS) machines.
"Intelligently designed packaging can help reduce the amount of waste that enters the environment," says Thomas Kahl, Project Manager EcoSolutions, Mondi Consumer Packaging. "Researchers are increasingly developing paper- and fibre-based packaging that offers barriers to replace plastic foil, which can render mixed-material packages unrecyclable. This functional paper is a challenge for our industry, but also a great opportunity if they are suitable for fibre recycling streams,” Mr. Kahl said.
The company addresses a particularly common myth that biodegradable is always better when in fact it is not. Consumers also lack understanding on the difference between plastics based on fossil or renewable resources. And the thinking that plastic-free packaging is better still dominates, even though life cycle analyses reflect that plastic packaging can be the most sustainable choice.
The choice between paper and plastic
Companies like Mondi always regard packaging as fit-for-purpose - paper where possible, plastic when useful and can be sustainable by design. Research has been increasingly focused on developing paper and fibre-based packaging that offers barriers to replace plastic foil. The latter is somewhat unpopular as it can render mixed-material packages unrecyclable.
Mondi’s perFORMing solution reduces plastic by up to 70 % by using coated Advantage Formable paper. The water-based coatings on paper can be used to make sealable or even thermoformable paper grades for direct food contact. The innovative packaging is proven highly effective for delicate and fragile food items such as chocolate or biscuits.
Advantage Formable paper often delights consumer with unique food packaging options. Instead of plastic in trays, Mondi’s perFORMing solution paper containers makes for attractive cheese and cold meat packaging.
Peter Oswald, Mondi’s Group CEO, said: “Paper is the packaging material of choice as it is naturally compostable and a renewable resource, not just recyclable. Mondi, as the world’s leading producer of kraft paper and paper bags, has many innovative solutions to reduce plastic waste. Where the functionality of plastic is needed, we have flexible plastic solutions, which typically reduce the amount of plastic required by 70%. The public focus on the impact of plastic waste is a big opportunity for Mondi to lead the packaging industry with innovative paper and plastic packaging EcoSolutions that are sustainable by design.”
Changing public perception
Graeme Smith, Sustainability Manager, Mondi Consumer Packaging said: “Media reports on sustainability often send mixed and incomplete messages to consumers who are trying to educate themselves on the topic. This poses a challenge – but also serves as a powerful catalyst – in developing a stream of actionable innovation projects that meet shifting expectations and priorities.”
Sustainability is complicated, and when it comes to packaging, it can manifest itself in many ways and on many levels. From recent trade shows and conventions, most consumers say that they want ‘to do the right thing’. This feedback is well and good but it also showed that consumers often lack understanding about the complexities of materials composition. Issues like when paper or plastic is the best option, what’s the latest development of recycling technologies. The good news is that global cooperation among packaging corporations is expanding the array of products that are fully recyclable.
Fact-based recycling education is vital. Pacoon, a packaging strategy and design consultancy, has developed an interactive map showing differing waste approaches by countries across the globe. Global data analyses by country shows real life waste treatment practices. These analyses include deposit laws, combustion/ incineration, recycling, landfilling and additional information on local country laws. All of which confirms that a one size fits all approach to sustainable recycling and waste practices will not work.
“Countries with little recycling infrastructure or landfill would be better served by compostable packaging. Organic brands may be able to rely on renewable raw materials. Countries with a high recycling infrastructure need to focus on recyclability and/or recycled materials. Climatic conditions also influence the use of materials.” says Peter Désilets, Pacoon’s General Manager.
Mr. Desilets adds, “Countries with little recycling infrastructure or landfill would be better served by compostable packaging. Organic brands may be able to rely on renewable raw materials. Countries with a high recycling infrastructure need to focus on recyclability and/or recycled materials. Climatic conditions also influence the use of materials.”
Both Mondi and Pacoon intend to stay at the forefront of sustainable packaging innovation. This is because in these times, never has package design and material choice come more under scrutiny. There is a very good reason for this as inefficient packaging is a major contributor to the world’s waste problem. Conversely, intelligent, well-conceived packaging can solve challenges without compromising performance.
There is a silver lining to this. Consumers are now talking about sustainable packaging and taking it seriously. Thus, stakeholders across the packaging value chain are working together on an unprecedented level to ensure solutions are being fast-tracked. But the fact of the matter is that there is a lot more education that needs to happen on both sides.
Mondi believes that working together with other businesses, partners and governments is key to finding a solution for plastic waste. It is essential to drive innovation and broad systemic change throughout the plastics value chain.
To live up to the pact with NPEGC Initiative, Mondi has committed to: Take action to eliminate problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging by 2025; Take action to move from single-use towards reuse models where relevant by 2025; 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025; 25% of plastic packaging being from recycled content by 2025 (where it does not compromise functionality or food health requirements).
The Group’s flexible packaging solutions can contribute towards global sustainable plastics, based on circular economy principles and designed to maximise functionality and recyclability, and thereby minimise waste throughout the life cycle.