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The Supplier is Accelerating Development of Recyclable and Compostable Flexible Packaging

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Update time : 2019-12-26 09:24:34

This article is from Rick Lingle, senior technical editor of Packaging Digest. The following is an interview with Alex Hayden, senior vice president of R & D, innovation and sustainability at TC Transcontinental Packaging.

First things first: How does the company define sustainable packaging?

HaydenWe define sustainable packaging as packaging presenting a lesser environmental footprint than that of alternative packaging solutions. It has been proven, through life cycle assessments (LCA), that flexible packaging uses less  non-renewable energy , offers an excellent product-packaging ratio, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and uses less water than other packaging formats. We also consider recyclable, compostable and reusable packaging formats and packaging made of post-consumer recycled content as sustainable.

We design our packaging for a wide range of end-product applications and seek to find the right balance between material composition and weight while ensuring an optimal product protection.

Being highly engaged in sustainable packaging development also means that we need to be part of the efforts made to tackle the challenge that flexible packaging presents, which is end-of-life management. Packaging composed of several polymers are currently more difficult to recycle. We are fully cognizant of this dilemma which is why our R&D Department dedicates substantial effort towards developing eco-responsible packaging solutions.

In terms of compostable films, we offer custom-designed solutions developed in collaboration with our customers. These solutions are made from 100% renewable resources. For example, we developed a new flexible peanut bag from certified compostable materials in order to support the green initiatives of arenas and stadiums in the United States that won a Gold award for Sustainability at the 2018 FPA Awards.

How would you characterize the current interest in sustainable packaging?

Hayden: When we first entered the packaging industry a few years ago, sustainable packaging was part of some of our discussions with customers, and usually came as a topic at the end of a meeting. Today, when meeting with our customers, independent of market or size, sustainable packaging solutions are top-of-mind and, more often than not, the very first topic of the meeting.

Brands are keenly aware of the growing global concern regarding the environment and have come to realize that consumers are looking for packaging options that are better for our planet. They are demanding sustainable products that are recyclable or compostable, as they wish to contribute to a better environment starting with what they consume and in reducing packaging waste. Consumers are also asking to understand how recycling works and how they can make a significant impact. There are definite opportunities to educate them on the topic.

In this context, many of our customers have already committed to sustainability targets of their own either through the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment or their Corporate Social Responsibility Plan. They are seeking to develop solutions with their partners and are more willing to test and commercialize those solutions faster. As such, we are definitely seeing a growing interest in sustainable packaging from our customers, as well as from all stakeholders involved in the supply chain, and beyond. We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with them and to continue supporting our customers along their own sustainability journey. Our R&D strategy is focused on a deep understanding of our customers’ needs and market trends. Working closely with our supply chain partners, we intend to accelerate the path towards a circular economy for plastic packaging.

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