The fu­ture of pack­ag­ing

Opin­ion: Sharon Humphreys, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, Pack­ag­ing Coun­cil of New Zealand

Element - - Element Promotion -

Pack­ag­ing, which sur­rounds al­most ev­ery con­sumer prod­uct, is in the hands of con­sumers fleet­ingly. But, in the mo­ment be­fore you dis­pose of it, think about the jour­ney it took to cre­ate, make and ap­ply that pack­ag­ing… and how you will dis­pose of it.

That’s ex­actly what our de­sign­ers, brand own­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers do ev­ery day - from start of the prod­uct’s life to the end - they have to bal­ance what re­sources are used in man­u­fac­tur­ing while en­sur­ing the pack­ag­ing is fit for its pur­pose and ul­ti­mately they con­sider how it will be dis­posed.

Here in New Zealand we have been work­ing to lead the way in en­sur­ing the pack­ag­ing sec­tor plays its role in sus­tain­abil­ity. That is where The Pack­ag­ing Coun­cil of New Zealand (PAC.NZ) fits in. It rep­re­sents com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing across the pack­ag­ing sup­ply chain, with mem­bers con­tribut­ing ap­prox­i­mately $20 bil­lion to the econ­omy.

The Coun­cil and its mem­bers ad­vo­cate for a life­cy­cle ap­proach to pack­ag­ing and start with the fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ple that good pack­ag­ing de­sign pre­vents more waste than it cre­ates. A life­cy­cle ap­proach op­ti­mises the over­all en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact of pack­ag­ing and the Pack­ag­ing Coun­cil has been at the fore­front of pro­mot­ing and ed­u­cat­ing on the role of pack­ag­ing and how it con­trib­utes to a sus­tain­able so­ci­ety bal­anc­ing the three pil­lars of planet, profit and com­mu­nity.

Re­cy­cling re­mains Ki­wis’ tan­gi­ble con­tri­bu­tion to pre­serv­ing and pro­tect­ing the clean, green im­age of New Zealand. With over 90 per cent of Ki­wis hav­ing ac­cess to ei­ther kerb­side or drop-off re­cy­cling fa­cil­i­ties we have wide-spread, ma­ture col­lec­tion fa­cil­i­ties for post-con­sumer pack­ag­ing ma­te­rial. PAC.NZ mem­bers are com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions to max­imise the col­lec­tion of post-con­sumer pack­ag­ing ma­te­ri­als.

Alto Pack­ag­ing – be­hind the new Food­stuffs meat tray, Mil­tek (waste com­pactors and balers) and Flight Plas­tics (pro­duc­ing re­cy­cled plas­tic food-grade pack­ag­ing) are all tak­ing lead­er­ship po­si­tions on so­lu­tions to the is­sue of pack­ag­ing waste by re­design­ing prod­ucts to fit with ex­ist­ing re­cy­cling oper­a­tions, or mak­ing re­cov­ery eas­ier and cost-ef­fec­tive for busi­ness through bal­ing so­lu­tions and cre­at­ing mar­kets for re­cov­ered pack­ag­ing ma­te­ri­als and us­ing these prod­ucts for new pack­ag­ing ma­te­rial.

Func­tion­al­ity is the key cri­te­ria in all pack­ag­ing de­sign. Con­sider the de­mands we con­sumers place on the pack­aged goods in­dus­try to­day. We ex­pect ac­cess to global mer­chan­dise and no mat­ter how far-flung the ori­gin of the prod­uct, and no mat­ter the time and dis­tance in transit, we nev­er­the­less ex­pect it to ar­rive to us in per­fect con­di­tion. We re­quire food and bev­er­age prod­ucts to pro­vide us with choices to suit our tastes, our be­liefs, our lifestyles and our health. We fur­ther ex­pect value-add such as con­ve­nience for­mats for prepa­ra­tion, us­age, por­tion con­trol, safety fea­tures, clo­sure fea­tures, anti-tam­per ev­i­dence, theft de­ter­rent.

With­out com­pro­mis­ing on the func­tions and ex­pec­ta­tions of the pack­ag­ing there is a grow­ing call to meet these de­mands within the pa­ram­e­ters of a cir­cu­lar econ­omy. The Pack­ag­ing Coun­cil has mem­bers lead­ing the way in pro­vid­ing cir­cu­lar so­lu­tions.

It is in the area of science and R&D where the stepchanges in pack­ag­ing will come. Al­ready we are see­ing ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy, and in­no­va­tion in pack­ag­ing de­sign that are en­abling de­vel­op­ment of new pack­ag­ing ma­te­ri­als which ad­dress the con­cerns voiced by so­ci­ety for al­ter­na­tives to tra­di­tional fos­sil fuel based pack­ag­ing ma­te­ri­als. The Pack­ag­ing Coun­cil ben­e­fits from the strong science fo­cus pro­vided from Scion, who sits on the Ex­ec­u­tive Board, and part­ner­ships such as Auck­land Univer­sity’s Bio­cide Tool­box Pro­gramme. The fu­ture of pack­ag­ing is ex­cit­ing and, in New Zealand, where there has al­ways ex­isted a strong in­no­va­tion spirit, we are see­ing our sci­en­tific in­sti­tu­tions rise to the chal­lenges of pro­duc­ing ad­vanced ma­te­ri­als to meet the needs of to­mor­row’s so­ci­ety.

These sto­ries pro­vide a small snap­shot of the work of the Pack­ag­ing Coun­cil mem­bers. Mem­bers who are com­mit­ted to New Zealand Inc. eco­nom­i­cally, so­cially and en­vi­ron­men­tally. To find out more on what our mem­bers are do­ing, or to find ways to make your busi­ness more sus­tain­able con­tact us on 09 271 4044, www.pack­ag­ing.org.nz, Twit­ter @PACNZinc

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