BY ALEX CLERE
IN COLOGNE, GERMANY
We’re now right in the midst of Anuga FoodTec 2018, the food processing and packaging event in Cologne, Germany. One thing that is immediately obvious from speaking to exhibitors is that the nature of the sustainability debate is changing: rightly, the focus is shifting to the whole life cycle of a product and not just the materials used in the product itself.
Manufacturers are taking into account the impact of producing and transporting raw materials at one end of the chain, all the way to how consumers dispose of it once the product has been consumed.
Arguably, the debate has intensified in recent months – and certainly in recent years – as both brands and retailers are pressured into doing more to minimise the amount of single-use plastic packaging on shelf and the amount of plastic entering the waste stream.
Research from Euromonitor suggests that 1,000,000 bottles of water are bought worldwide every minute, yet only half is recycled and just 7% is made into new bottles.
Here in Cologne, we spoke to Anna Palminger and Christian Olson from lightweight and environmentally friendly packaging company Ecolean. Palminger and Olson told FoodBev that Ecolean was concentrating on environmental product declarations, which determine the exact impact of its pouches and machines throughout their entire life cycle.
In an interview that can be seen soon on FoodBev.com, they also explained that providing transparency and openness about the sustainability of their products, and how it can still improve, was of great importance to Ecolean, particularly given the number of environmental claims on the market today.
We also spoke with Anders Lindgren, vice-president of Tetra Recart, about the many benefits that carton packaging can have over cans.
Lindgren explained that Tetra Recart was aiming to steal significant share from the canned food segment, with opportunities worldwide in pastes and grains, canned fish, and even pet food. The company’s wall of cartons at their stand at Anuga FoodTec, featuring an array of products that might once have been packaged in cans, is a sight to behold.
He also claims that he has heard from people within the metal packaging industry concerned about the shift away from cans.
Tetra Recart has a wall of cartons on its stand at Anuga FoodTec 2018.
With between 120 billion and 150 billion canned products sold every year, the opportunity and the challenge that exists is immense.
But Lindgren is confident in cartons and confident that Tetra Recart’s products can beat cans on every metric from sustainability to performance. Tetra Recart has measured the impact of its cartons across every stage of their lif cycle, and – not least because aluminium is three or four times heavier than cartonboard – believes that switching to Tetra Recart is a no-brainer.
It is another example of companies broadening their horizons when it comes to sustainability, taking into account the impact of their products before it arrives at their factory and after it is sent to their customers. The origin and final destination of packaging is important now, too.
Lindgren’s conviction in sustainable carton packaging is stirring. It was inevitable that the packaging industry would reach this pivotal moment sooner or later, but now that the time has come, surely manufacturers will not be allowed to ignore the wider impact of their packages for much longer.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019