The move toward sustainable practices, products and materials is ever-present and a priority in the packaging industry. Sustainable solutions are being thought about and innovated every day so that packaging can continue to play an important role in our lives. We need packaging to safeguard our food, protect our medicines, shield our purchases and transport our goods; packaging protects what keeps us happy and healthy. Because of its essential place in our world, we have a responsibility to limit its environmental impact.
The solution requires a combination of infrastructure development, education and engagement, innovation and clean-up efforts. Everyone has an important role, including consumers who must play an active part and be willing to share in the cost of innovation. Our industry is driving innovation; and we see this in the ongoing push to improve sustainability across all packaging types, throughout the supply chain. This is true for a variety of packaging formats; from the plastic used on bottle caps, to polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, to recycled corrugated card used in cartons and cases and recycled, high-density polyethylene (rHDPE) or recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) film.
Sustainability initiatives in packaging have advanced considerably, leading to an increased use of recycled materials, as well as a reduction in the amount of packaging being used. This is being addressed by redesigns to reduce the footprint of the packaging, careful monitoring of the amount of packaging used to reduce wastage, increased use of biodegradable materials like BioFilms and production of thinner packaging, be that thinner carton walls or thinner film on a wrapping machine. And to facilitate this, OEMs are developing machines with improved functionality to minimize waste and maximize productivity speeds with innovative and environmentally friendly materials.
These are just some of the examples of what the packaging industry is doing – the speed of innovation is rapid. PMMI reports on sustainability issues and innovations regularly, published daily via our Media Group’s digital platforms, monthly in Packaging World magazine and annually in our Innovations Report – a roundup of technologies seen at PACK EXPO, where there is an emphasis on education, ideas and technologies advancing sustainability efforts.
PACK EXPO Green Program:The PACK EXPO Green Program is the commitment of PACK EXPO and all of its partners, vendors and exhibitors working together to create a more sustainable world. Sustainability-related educational sessions will be prevalent at all PACK EXPO shows as well as a curated list of exhibiting companies who provide sustainable solutions either via new materials or technology such as sustainable technologies, biodegradable packaging, new packaging reduction processes, recyclable and biodegradable materials and technology to reduce carbon footprint. If your company offers such solutions, be sure to check the box when signing up for a PACK EXPO event and you will be highlighted by the PACK EXPO Green icon in your company listing.
As a member of the Consumer Brands Association’s Recycling Leadership Council, PMMI is joining forces with other industry associations that are working towards federal recycling legislation and a consumer education plan. Here are some resources produced by the council to inform and educate the industry – as well as encourage action toward a more sustainable future: