Where are we headed? To a natural & simple material or fully connected with a concentrate of technology …
Could we follow the two routes to a near junction point or do we have two fully distinct routes which will never cross each other….
In one word : does packaging have a future and which is the likely one …It is always difficult to read in a crystal ball but what are the signs we can decipher:
For example, among others: Parents and “senior adults” ( > 45 y) have been educated in a world where technology was a sign of progress for all, where consumption was almost a patriotic act, where plastic was fantastic but our children and “junior adults” (<35 y) all seem to agree that packaging and the current way we consume killed the planet … (let’s say that the 35-45 are still hesitating)
So what does it mean for the future of packaging: senior adults request first safety, protection and performance when junior adults demand easiness, ethical and environmentally friendly packaging.
How to adjust packaging to this perfect fit? As both need each other. Let’s combine traceability of sourcing, high barrier technology, active and efficient material with environmentally friendly and sustainable packaging.
If we basically agree that environmentally friendly packaging means:
1. sustainably sourced material
2. sustainable manufacturing & transport
3. and efficient management of its end-of -life,
myriad of research & scientific solutions are in progress at a pilot scale or, already widely commercialised.
Below, few solutions pick up among plethora, enabling performance & sustainability applied to bio-sourced material allowing biodegradability (< 3 month in soil & water) or facilitating packaging recycling* (easy =widely mechanically recycled ):
NanoPack for #antimicrobial film, containing low concentration of various natural essential oils, exhibited an increased shelf life of 40% of fresh produce. (EU’s Horizon 2020 research programme)
Micro/Nano Fibrillated Cellulose (#MFC): high sustainable barrier layer applied to paper (Centre Technique du Papier)
Bio-based #PEF (polyethylene furanoate), for soft drink bottles cheaper to produce than both fossil and bio-based PET (Synvina)
#PHA’s plastic family: perfectly biodegradable in soil & water, and production process (directly from bacteria) from waste, plant, methane or any carbon source , but still high pricing- (Danimer/newlight technologie)
#Mobile Apps (EVRYTHNG & Recycl3R) to transform the way that consumer packaged goods are recycled.
Future of packaging will be highly technical to be sustainable; but choosing the right solution is not always simple and sometimes we need a nudge.
* I am not including new chemical recycling processes here as they are not widely accessible today yet