3 eco-innovations in the packaging industry you should know about

The 2017 Packaging Innovations event in Birmingham on 1 & 2 March saw a fantastic line-up of suppliers from the packaging industry who came to show off their newest and most innovative products.  

Carbon Smart attended the event with the quest to find out what sustainable innovations are happening in the industry – and we were not alone. The Ecopack challenge was one of the event’s highlights, where businesses were requested to send in their ideas for sustainable packaging solutions to win the chance to develop their product with M&S. A selected short list of candidates presented their most sustainable innovative packaging solutions to the audience and a panel of judges from retail giants such as M&S, Mars Drinks and Iceland. To give you a flavour of the ideas presented, here is an overview of the flagship products designed by the three finalists fighting for their chance to win:

  1. Kapstone: sustainable lunch trays

Ken Perry from Kapstone was first to present his product under the slogan that their product Kraftpak was the ‘natural choice for sustainable packaging’ – which is a low-density, uncoated, unbleached paperboard grade.

Their flagship case study is called Sustainable food trays. In the US, they propose replacing styrofoam throw away trays with recyclable card trays – their pilot project in the US saved 1.6 million trays / 983,000 pounds of waste going to landfill. Impressive, right? But why is the US throwing away their trays in the first place?

2. Delipac: the recyclable cup

And we are back to paper cups – how could we forget Hugh’s war on waste, where he takes to the streets in his war bus covered in coffee cups with the slogan ‘wake up and smell the waste’. This was in response to the horrifying fact that 2.5 billion cups are thrown away in the UK each year, and 99% of them are going to landfill or incineration.

But not to worry Hugh, Delipac claims that it has the solution for you. The Delipac cup has no internal polymer laminate or liner, meaning that it is 100% recyclable in any paper waste stream, as they say, 100% compostable and 100% biodegradable. And they are robust too – withstanding hot, cold and frozen drinks (even ice cream!).

3. Metsä Board: the Lidloc cup

So, if Delipac has the solution to the cup, what about the lids that go on top? The third candidate, Metsä, a Finnish forest group, specialising in board, pulp and tissue, has a new, innovative solution for us. Metsä has designed Lidloc, the first integrated cup that has an extension structure to the cup that folds and locks into an integrated lid. Can’t picture it? Have a look for yourself: Lidloc.

The design is still in its infancy as the Metsä team still haven’t overcome the polymer barrier, meaning the product is not widely recycled in most paper waste streams. Perhaps Delipac and Metsä could collaborate on getting the Lidloc fully recyclable?

The winner of the Ecopack challenge is still yet to be announced – Ecopack will be announcing this in the next few weeks so stay tuned.

The appetite for sustainable packaging is clearly increasing: the Ecopack challenge event was well attended and many of the businesses representatives at the event told us that sustainability is increasingly climbing up the agenda for their customers. This particularly due to the increasing consumer pressure. Although we are far away from the utopian circular economy for the packaging industry, a large proportion of the businesses we spoke to on the day were able to claim that they have improved the environmental impact of either their products, their operations, or both.