Arctic winds, snow and freezing temperatures didn’t stop Packaging Innovations UK last week. From traditional packaging materials including corrugated cardboard, to innovations pitched at the EcoPack challenge, sustainability was the topic of conversation at this industry exhibition.
EcoPack Challenge Winners
A Finnish non-profit organisation won the EcoPack challenge. Their material, VTT, is a 100% plant based alternative to plastic. It has been specifically designed to fulfil the requirements of food packaging and is compostable.
The organisation will now have the opportunity to work in collaboration with M&S to further develop VTT, with the aim of bringing it to market. If successful, we could see this plastic alternative being used to keep products, including sweets, nuts, cereal and pet food, fresh.
Commitment to Zero Waste
In addition to supporting the development of VTT, M&S presented their goal of achieving zero waste packaging by 2022. Switching to sustainable materials where possible and working with innovative designers, on products such as VTT, are all part of this strategy.
Representatives from M&S, along with Coca Cola, Iceland and ASDA also took part in a debate which focused on plastics. Both sides of the argument were aired. Clearly plastic pollution is an issue, yet plastic packaging can’t easily be replaced on certain products. In the case of many consumables, plastic packaging prevents considerable waste. This explains why an immediate ban on single use plastics can’t be enforced.
Sugarcane Plastic Alternative
Bulldog Skin Care have fully committed to sustainable packaging. Their cosmetic range for men is presented in a sugarcane based plastic alternative. Other cosmetic brands, including London skincare brand LIHA, have opted for glass containers in place of plastic.
One of the best loved plastic products is Lego. Although this isn’t a single use plastic product, the company are also considering the long term impact of their bricks. Lego has announced that they will be producing a plant range, featuring trees, leaves and bushes, all made from sugarcane based plastic alternative.
Pack the Future
The Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising is currently showcasing an exhibition of eco-friendly packaging. This includes the Bulldog Skincare range and other sustainable packaging solutions that are currently being used by leading brands.
Whilst the exhibition celebrates plant and paper based products, along with other recyclable materials, it also recognises the role of plastic packaging. Two cucumbers feature in the exhibition; one is wrapped in plastic, the other is not. The aim is to clearly show the difference that packaging makes to the life span.
Packaging of the Past
Aylesbury Box Company is excited by the new innovations that will benefit the environment in the future, but many of the best solutions are already available. Corrugated cardboard boxes have been a packaging staple for decades and have always had sound environmental credentials. The milkman, delivering glass bottles in an electric float is an icon of the past, but could be vital in the future. Could looking back help us to move forward?