Materials

How Is Your Company Doing With Flexible Packaging?

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<p style="text-align: justify;">There is not enough education for others, especially when it comes to packaging.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">In a meeting, a few days back, the company's top manager questioned me about the problem with flexible packaging's low recycling rates. How is it possible that it is still not fixed in 2022, he asked? The first thought that came to my mind was why he was asking this.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">It is evident and understandable, but then I realised that it might not be known to everyone.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">I instructed him to close his eyes and visualise as much of the primary food packaging as he could, including all the food items available in the store and at home.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Around half of it comes from flexible packaging indeed (BTW, only around 40% of it is represented by mono materials today).</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Flexible packaging is a great and sustainable solution for many products and processes. Everyone agrees on that but not from the standpoint of current recycling. Difficult to imagine?</p><p style="text-align: justify;">So, imagine that you buy 100 products in flexible packaging, and only a tiny fraction of all your flexible packaging waste will become recycled today.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Surprised again, he came with more questions.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">I went then to details like varying sorts of flexible packaging, as well as all the collection, logistical and technical difficulties related to flexibles recycling, contaminations, low interest from buyers, the economy of scale, and how to separate in a more advanced way, innovations in materials structures, etc.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Another shock!!!</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The outcome of the meeting?</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Contract for packaging portfolio unification, material redesign, and advanced materials testing.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><em>This article was contributed by our expert <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/ladislav-hurdalek-a5223219/">Ladislav Hurdalek</a></em></span></p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p><h3 style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 18pt;">Frequently Asked Questions Answered by Ladislav Hurdalek</span>&nbsp;</h3><h2><span style="font-size: 12pt;">1. What are the advantages of flexible packaging?&nbsp;</span></h2><p>To me, the product/packaging ratio of flexible packaging is one of its most attractive features, followed by its lightweight and its effects on logistics and transportation. This makes flexible packaging quite relevant not only in current times of carbon footprint hunting.</p><p>The several functionalities that are provided here are another aspect. It enables us to cover a broad range of items, offers excellent protection, and affects shelf life positively. To pack products of varied sizes, you do not require any particular equipment. For packers it is affordable to use flexible packaging, compared to other solutions. And yet it is still a great arena for innovations, which are needed. As a result, it is flexible from all angles indeed.</p><h2><span style="font-size: 12pt;">2. What is the difference between flexible and rigid packaging?</span></h2><p>Same as between rock and steam. We need both, but each provides unique quality.</p><h2><span style="font-size: 12pt;">3. What is the future of Flexible Packaging?</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;">The future is bright but different. The global growth in this segment is bright. It is said to grow by 3% annually. However flexible packaging won't succeed in the long run without appropriate recycling. And there isn't a massive range of processes available for flexible packaging globally.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The market is responding to this, and given that most flexible packaging is made of polymers, the trend toward paperization is meaningful to me. For products where this transformation is achievable, it is a great step. And we will see here great material solutions coming soon. Another way to help is to modify your packaging for recycling. In practice, it means shifting to mono materials and employing design for recycling guidelines wherever possible. Some materials might disappear from the flexible packaging portfolio in the near future. So the future is bright.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p>
KR Expert - Ladislav Hurdalek