• Day 1 of foodpro 2023 included a panel discussion on sustainable packaging for the meat industry. The panellists were (l to r) Ralph Moyle, AIP; Alan Adams, SEE; Jasson Mills, Amcor Flexibles; and Warwick Armstrong, Plantic Technologies.
    Day 1 of foodpro 2023 included a panel discussion on sustainable packaging for the meat industry. The panellists were (l to r) Ralph Moyle, AIP; Alan Adams, SEE; Jasson Mills, Amcor Flexibles; and Warwick Armstrong, Plantic Technologies.

Cross-industry collaboration to drive market-ready and recycle-ready sustainable solutions is top of the agenda for packaging converters SEE, Amcor Flexibles and Plantic, who presented on innovation in this space at an AIP education forum at foodpro on Day One.

In a panel session deftly moderated by Australian Institute of Packaging education co-ordinator Ralph Moyle, foodpro attendees heard from Alan Adams, director of Sustainability for APAC at SEE (formerly Sealed Air); Jasson Mills, technical director R&D Amcor Flexibles; and Warwick Armstrong, general manager Business Development &Marketing at Plantic Technologies – the trio all highlighting sustainable packaging innovation brought to market with the dual benefit of preventing food waste and driving circularity. 

Adams opened the session and set the context for the panel discussion by emphasising the importance of collaboration to enable the industry to “truly make a genuine difference for business and the planet”. 

Alluding to the National Packaging Targets, Adams said, “2025 is just around the corner… we need to be launching solutions that make a difference today.”

He added that the biggest impact the packaging industry can make is “designing out food waste”, which he pointed out accounts for 10 per cent of global carbon emissions.

Other focus areas that should drive innovation, he said, are reducing carbon emissions and developing a circular economy.

“Today, more than ever, society is tasking us with being more circular with the finite resources we have, so developing sustainable packaging in any industry is really a balancing act – balancing those environmental impacts generated by packaging with the impacts delivered by the product itself.

“We absolutely have to design for that sweet spot that optimises outcomes with the minimum amount of resources we can consume – and that really takes a holistic approach.”

Adams ran through several innovations SEE has brought to market, a highlight being the Hyrdalock meat tray, which, through clever design adopting the principle of surface tension, has delivered a tray that eliminates the need for soaker pads to absorb the meat fluids, preventing hundreds of tonnes of the latter material from entering landfill. The clear tray is recyclable and contains 10 per cent PCR content.

Adams said that although Australia does not currently have the recycling infrastructure in place to recycle material onshore, in the next few years it will, and then there will be a high demand for feedstock. He says we need to design now to be recycle ready for when that recycling capacity comes onstream.

He went on to speak about advanced recycling, and the pilot project SEE has initiated in partnership with Melbourne company Advanced Plastics Recycling (APR), to convert post-consumer plastic film and trays into oil, which can be refined and converted into new resins that can in turn be made into high performance food contact packaging. The process he said will divert 900 tonnes of plastic per annum from landfill, capturing it as a resource for new packaging.

Picking up from Adams and developing the theme of designing packaging to be recycle-ready, Amcor Flexibles’ Jasson Mills spoke about the PIDA and WorldStar award-winning Ecotite R, the first ANZ-manufactured PVC-free shrink bag for meat. Until recently, PVC has been the barrier material of choice in the protein industry, but locally and globally the meat industry is moving away from PVC and Ecotite R offers a sustainable alternative.

The development didn’t happen overnight, it took three years of R&D. Mills related how Amcor’s Australian team drew on global innovation resources within the group and then a solution was developed that needed to be adapted, using Kiwi engineering ingenuity, to suit machinery on the ground in Australia.

Following successful trials the product has been commercialised and Amcor is starting to gain a foothold in the meat market. It is now eyeing other protein categories like cheese. 

Mills said independent reports have shown that Ecotite R is 6 per cent lighter than the PVC alternative, and depending on the gauge of the bag, offers up to 60 per cent lower carbon footprint and 55 per cent less water consumption.

Mills, like Adams, stressed the importance of designing packaging that will be ready for onshore recycling infrastructure. 

He said that across the Amcor business around 92 per cent of all packaging they make is recycle-ready, reusable, or compostable.

Warwick Armstrong picked up from Mills, expanding on the discussion around balancing the imperative to reduce plastic waste while preventing food waste.

Plantic Technologies, a Kuraray company, specialises in packaging solutions developed from plant-derived sources, and has won numerous PIDA and WorldStar Awards for its innovations.

Armstrong discussed several examples, highlighting a collaborative solution that was chosen for the World Packaging Organisation’s President’s Award at the WorldStar Awards, the meat tray for Coles Finest brand. 

What’s notable about this rPET tray is that the company is partnering with local plastic recycler Martogg, which is located in close proximity to Plantic’s manufacturing site – thus using local PCR content and manufacturing MAP and VSP trays locally, in collaboration with a local retailer to meet its requirements. An example of Australian made packaging at its finest.

The event wrapped up with several questions from the floor around the integrity of the recycled content packaging and other circular solutions in the pipeline. 

Ralph Moyle took the opportunity to remind the audience that on Day Two at foodpro the AIP will be running two training courses, one on flexible packaging run by Joe Foster, CEO of OF Packaging and Close the Loop Group, and the other on Active & Intelligent Packaging, run by Michael Dossor, Group GM of Result Group. Both Foster and Dossor are consummate experts in their respective fields, with attendees standing to gain invaluable knowledge by attending.

The AIP is on Stand K49.

For more information on AIP courses during foodpro, see our foodpro preview in the June/July magazine.




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