The Confederation of Paper Industries (CPI) is calling on manufacturers to look at the whole picture of sustainability, right through the supply chain, rather than just focusing on the end product.
Andy Barnetson, director of packaging, CPI, told FoodProductionDaily his role includes promoting the benefits of corrugated packaging to parliamentary and retailers, understanding the logistics of recycling and the details of environmental and food contact legislation.
He works with UK packaging industry bodies, such as INCPEN (Industry Council for research on Packaging and the Environment), Government departments and European organisations such as FEFCO (The European Federation of Corrugated Board Manufacturers).
“It’s important to us that we get the focus right. It’s not just about packaging but how the product is made, how food is reared, grown, transport costs, and what’s wasted. We need to concentrate on the overall environmental picture and look at the entire supply chain,” he said.
“By looking at sustainability through the supply chain we can see how packaging can help improve the overall sustainable environment.”
CPI represents more than 90% of the UK corrugated packaging industry. Corrugated also protects around 75% of goods in transit across Europe.
Barnetson added CPI is currently working to reduce its own carbon footprint, which fell by 16% between 2005 and 2011.
“Looking to the future of retail packaging, corrugated’s flat printable surface is ready-made for exploiting digital platforms such as Smartphone apps and Quick Response (QR) codes to meet consumers’ growing appetite for instant access to product and dietary information.”
Barnetson said innovation is transforming the image of corrugated packaging, providing eye-catching products beyond its traditional purpose for some of the biggest brand names in the food and beverage industry.
Pioneers include Premier Foods,which has increased productivity at its Ashford plant, following an overhaul of transit and display packaging for its range of Batchelors dried foods.
After implementing a corrugated initiative, packaging throughput has increased by 50%, while the removal of other packaging materials has enabled the business to reduce its secondary packaging costs.
Another example, is MillerCoors which has launched a pack design made from corrugated board, incorporating a water resistant inner lining.
Consumers can take home a cardboard pack of bottled beers which then turns into a cool box when they add ice or water.
“The industry is thinking all the time to do something different,” said Barnetson.
Shelf-ready packaging (SRP)
“High Quality Post Print (HQPP) has transformed corrugated packaging from protective transit packaging, into multi-functional, colourful, Shelf-ready Packaging (SRP), without compromising product integrity.
“Thanks to these significant industry investments and innovative thinking, corrugated packaging is meeting future challenges head on and is being transformed from a simple brown box for conveying goods, to an attractive shelf-ready, environmentally friendly packaging.
“UK corrugated packaging companies have also invested heavily in designing boxes which save on storage space and cut costs across the supply chain. Lightweight papers have resulted in a 7% reduction in weight over the last seven years, with no loss of strength.”
Barnetson said the next big trend will be shelf ready packaging when a supermarket has a product that comes direct from the supply chain and goes straight to the retail shelf.
“We have been talking about that sort of concept got a long time but it’s an ongoing process. We’re getting better. We are trying to get the right printing quality and technology in place, things like the depth of a shelf at different supermarkets, a tear-off top, how can the consumer can see the product inside,” he added.
“The technology we have is better now than it was five to 10 years ago but we’re trying to step up and do more.
“There are opportunities for an interaction between a mobile device and packaging, or packaging that recognises you when you walk past a supermarket aisle due to the information it has on a sensor. There’s no telling where we’ll go next.”