I make it my job to find as many new packaging innovations as I can as part of the day to day management of ThePackHub’s Innovation Zone database. The resource has more than 5,400 initiatives and we upload more than 20 initiatives a week. A shift in the types of innovations coming to our attention has been evident in recent times. Not surprisingly, there is a particularly high focus on sustainable packaging initiatives as brand owners, retailers and suppliers work toward stretching and self-imposed environment targets. The sustainability areas include material lightweighting, material reduction and mono material developments, packaging-free and refill and reusable introductions. There has also been a big effort to reduce or eliminate plastic as a material used. The last area of focus - recycling - is the most active. Recyclability continues to be a significant area of focus as operators aim to increase the amount of recyclable packaging as well as increase the recycled content in their supply chain. We have reported on many different ways to improve the recyclability of packaging with some of the greatest minds in the packaging world working hard on the task in hand. Improving how products are recycled continues to be of focus. There are many examples of mono-material solutions being developed. These make the chances of the packaging being recycled more likely. Multi-material solutions have been a bug bear of the recycling industry and environmentally-focused consumers for many years and times are changing.
One initiative that caught our eye that improves the pack's recyclability is from CCL Label. The world’s largest label company provide solutions to the home and personal care, food and beverage, healthcare and consumer markets worldwide. They have used their extensive market experience to extend the reach of polyolefin sleeve technology with a solution called EcoFloat for dairy cups use. Using a Shrink Sleeve Label that is made from the same plastic family as the cup, increases the recycling rate and optimizes the process. There is no disadvantage by not removed decorations. PP cup and EcoFloat can be recycled efficiently in the PP recycling stream. This avoids composite materials that are difficult to separate.
Along with the sustainability aspect of the sleeve, the cup boasts good shrinkage to fit around many cup shapes and sizes and is fully compatible with printing requirements. The EcoFloat material was originally engineered to improve the sink/float separation process for PET bottles. This solution builds on CCL’s previous EcoFloat launch for PET bottles. The solution meets USA Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) standards as well as the requirements of the European PET Bottle Platform (EPBP). It’s a clear film material specifically developed for PET bottle-to-bottle recycling.
The future of packaging innovation moving into 2022 will continue to focus heavily on sustainability and we look forward to reporting on more great initiatives. More information on ThePackHub and our Innovation Zone platform here.