The packaging world responded positively to the call of Packaging Speaks Green, the international forum in Bologna, Italy, dedicated to sustainability in the packaging sector, organized by UCIMA and the FICO Foundation. Two days of debates, discussions and proposals on the need to make the packaging industry more sustainable, with 35 speakers from all continents, 450 participants from 20 countries and 40 accredited journalists.
The need for a new production system emerged universally during the forum; a new production system to be included within a wider scope, which includes technology and research oriented towards reusable, recyclable and compostable materials, consumer education and new global policies. A need that can no longer be postponed, also in light of the climate change we are witnessing, as recalled by Tim Letts of the WWF.
The sector is therefore moving towards intelligent, digital and flexible packaging, which meets the needs of consumers more sensitive to green issues; packaging that provides companies that invest in sustainability with a fundamental economic return (at least in the long term), so that they can adopt the new systems.
In the first part of the forum, dedicated to legislation and society, an overview on the consumption situation related to packaging was given by Silvia Zucconi (Market intelligence manager at Nomisma), Nicola De Carne (Retailer client business partner at Nielsen) and Paolo Spranzi (Associate Partner at McKinsey). Nomisma examined the Italian and international markets by carrying out an exclusive survey for the forum, focused on the United States and Germany. “In terms of sustainability - explained Zucconi – Italy boasts an overall better performance than the European average. However, all the countries taken into consideration by the study share certain values such as attention to the green characteristics of the packaging, the attitude not to buy products with too much packaging and the search for packs with reduced dimensions.
“The greatest challenge is to provide everyone with food by 2050, and we must do it reducing the environmental impact. Poor quality packaging leads to food loss. Plastic packaging guarantees fresh and better quality products, therefore in the coming years we must develop increasingly greener materials. The materials exist so we need to develop innovative food systems starting from the reduction of food loss and increase in efficiency” says Rosa Rolle, FAO manager.
In the second part of the forum, the floor was given to Retailers and Brand Owners including Giacomo Canali (Packaging Research Manager at Barilla) and Roman Manthey (Global Supply Chain Engineering & Infrastructure Director at Coca-Cola Bottling).
A reduction in the use of packaging materials, the use of recyclable materials and cardboard from responsibly managed forests were the highlights discussed by Canali, who also underlined the importance of consumer education. Manthey added “We strongly believe in the circular economy and our goal is to have 100% recyclable plastic bottles. We are already eliminating all unnecessary or not easily recyclable packaging from our range”.
Coop presented its multi-year “Coop for the environment” project, confirming its commitment to sustainability, in line with its history and values. A testimony to their philosophy that does not consist of sporadic actions based solely on consumer sentiment, but which is based on the implementation of real actions throughout the production chain.
“The challenge for a more sustainable world is open," explains Michele Frascaroli, Technical Director at CRIT – "and machinery manufacturers are already fully involved in this challenge. All major players are working to provide increasingly sustainable approaches and solutions. Some are already on the market, others are under study and will be presented in a few years. This is one of the factors that make up a circle of sustainable innovation which, in addition to being connected to the research and development of technology, also concerns corporate sustainability, knowledge of materials, collaboration with the producers of the materials and customer relations."
The managers of international companies such as Amcor, Novamont, NatureWorks, TerraCycle, Herambiente and Aliplast closed the first edition of Packaging Speaks Green and presented materials, technologies and scenarios to reduce the environmental impact starting from innovative solutions.