Les Aliments Jardi snacks are packed in 100% recyclable, multilayer barrier stand-up pouches that earned TC Transcontinental Packaging a 2019 PAC Canadian Leadership Award this summer.
What are the challenges in this market?
Hayden: The main challenge is that each market has its specificities, its set of applicable legislation and system regarding recycling infrastructures, etc. As such, there is an opportunity for harmonization in order to better support eco-design initiatives undertaken by manufacturers like us.
For example, the quality found in bales of outgoing materials from material recovery facilities is a challenge. If we want to create a market for these materials in order to have post-consumer plastic bought and reintroduced into the value chain, we need to ensure quality optimization from the get-go at sorting facilities. We are committed to acting together in a concerted manner with all stakeholders involved in order to rise to the packaging end-of-life challenges we are facing as an industry.
In order to support brands’ eco-design initiatives, it also must be fairly easy for consumers to recycle a package. Consumers need to know how and where to recycle. Recyclable film pouches are a good example: They can be recycled in almost any collection program that accepts plastic shopping bags. Most of the time, those collection systems are dedicated receptacles at retail stores.
What technological options drive this market?
Hayden: Technological options are acting as drivers in sustainable packaging. This is very much the case that came into play with our Harney & Sons pouch. For example, the importance of keeping a product fresh, especially when it’s a highly valuable item, such as tea, is key. In that case, a pouch with an ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) barrier was necessary for our customer. We were able to achieve this in collaboration with our suppliers. Harney & Sons connected with us because they knew we could support their mission of giving back to the environment that grows the tea of the world.
We knew that a multilayer, coextruded film was essential to preserve the delicate flavor of tea by protecting the product’s natural oils that give tea leaves a smooth flavor and finish. We developed one of the first commercialized package for food that hits all notes: 100% recycle ready for in-store drop off, EVOH barrier for product preservation, seal strength, and durability. We know that EVOH delivers outstanding barrier to gases, organic vapors and moisture, preventing deterioration of the product and extending its shelf life; it plays a crucial role in food packaging.
However, the challenge with barrier films from a sustainability perspective is that it is not easily broken down and recycled, therefore hindering its reuse and contribution to positive environmental change. Dow’s Retain resin technology permitted the required barrier to be used and made multilayer film that was fully recyclable to achieve sustainability goals.
Our compostable peanut bag is another example of a collaboration that brought about science, technology and innovation and enabled us with our partners to create an industrially compostable film using certified compostable materials to support arenas and stadiums’ green initiatives and help sports teams, venues and leagues achieve the next level of landfill waste diversion.
What best practices can you share for brands desiring to move into packaging that’s more sustainable?
Hayden: We love to host ideation sessions with our customers and develop a true collaboration and partnership to drive innovation. These ideation sessions allow us to have open and candid conversations about the brand’s concerns and challenges. This interactive session is focused around the brand’s target consumer, new packaging ideas and product concepts. It allows us to find opportunities where sustainable packaging could resonate with the brand messaging as well as the consumers needs and expectations.
As best practice, we also recommend brands start small and implement quickly allowing us to assess the market and get consumers feedback. Meanwhile, it allows the brand to make that shift towards sustainable packaging, be agile and manage their image and perception in the market.
Finally, what’s a misconception about sustainable packaging that you can dispel?
Hayden: That not all plastic packaging is created equal! There are many misconceptions about flexible packaging. That is why we believe in educating and informing our customers, and in turn their consumers as well. Flexible packaging tends to be an exceptionally material-efficient, lightweight and with relatively low life-cycle impacts including carbon footprint, which is highly advantageous. It also offers sustainability benefits throughout its entire life cycle that should be communicated.
Packaging professionals can find pre-Halloween packaging treats in Minnesota during MinnPack 2019 (Oct. 23-24; Minneapolis) in the form of solutions for food packaging, package design, shipping and more. Attend free expert-led sessions at multiple theaters around the expo.