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Future of Sustainable FMCG & Food Packaging Post Event Report

In the current scenario, where plastics as a packaging material is being viewed as a significant contributor to littering & a challenge to existing solid waste management system, not only in India, but across the globe, Packaging 360, a comprehensive knowledge ecosystem, decided to organize a conclave which would address the issues of sustainability, & the future course of FMCG & Food packaging. Yet at the same time, innovations, excitement & regulatory compliance of materials used to create flexible & rigid packaging structures needs to evolve continuously to address issues of food & product safety.

The conclave was organized to address these concepts with presentations from independent domain experts and speakers from leading organizations

Dilip Raghavan, Co-Founder, Packaging 360; began the day's proceedings with a warm welcome to all the speakers & delegates. He also highlighted the role of Packaging 360, as a neutral unbiased platform; in bringing together experts & sharing technical Knowledge with the packaging community.

Stefan Glimm, Sr. Executive Advisor, Flexible Packaging Europe, Delivered the keynote address on Flexible Packaging: Boone or Bane?? He emphasized the need to solve littering issue worldwide to save flex pack resource efficiency and light-weighting benefits. He also noted that without packaging, it would be impossible to feed the world & ensure sustainable consumption. In EU, all stakeholders have committed to achieving 55% recycling rate by 2030 from the current 25%. He also empathized the role of an efficient collecting system to achieve recycling targets as the world is in a transition from linear to a circular economy.

Dr. Sameer Joshi, Member, Plastics Image & Environment Committee, PlastIndia Foundation, in his expert address began by stating Plastics waste is really not a waste, but a wasted opportunity. He stressed the importance of incentivization & monetary aspects of the recycling process to achieve goals of EPR & sustainability programmes. He discussed the present scenario in Maharashtra on account of the ban for single use plastics & some other items like thermocole. This ban is likely to cascade to other states in India as well. He also presented ground level case studies in Maharashtra & Rajasthan of community collection centres.

Dr.Sarah Peter, Manager, Strategic Development, Food Contact EMEA & Health, Environmental & Regulatory Services (HERS), Intertek delivered a paper on “Use Of Recycled Food Contact Material, How To Ensure The Safety?”. In The EU, paper & board has the highest recycling rate of 82 % followed by steel (78%) glass (74%) & aluminum. (73%). Paper which is recycled back into packaging use is approx. 74%. Some inherent risks associated with use of such materials are potential mix of food & non-food grade & also potential contamination from inks & adhesives Use of recycled packaging materials is governed by The Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive: Directive94/62/EC. Dr.Peter also discussed the regulatory framework & guidelines to minimize the risks associated with use of recycled materials. The ESFA has approved some 140 recycling processes for PET & is likely to be made official in 2018.

Jatin Takkar, Head – Product safety and Regulatory, Siegwerk India, responsible for product safety and regulatory compliances of packaging inks. Siegwerk India. Discussed the definition of safe inks & pointed out that mere exclusion of toluene & ketone does not qualify an ink to be environmentally friendly or sustainable. He elaborated on the optimized migration of inks which is fit to be defined as safe for packaging applications.

Mr.Hiren Sanghavi, Technical Director, DSM / Tarrschem gave a summary of water based coatings on paper as well as come innovations designed to bring soft touch feel on packs.

A. Appadurai, Country Head, HP Indigo captured the excitement & happiness associated with labels. He highlighted the role of digital printing & its impact on mass customization of packs. The concept has been adopted by leading convertors in India.

Mr. Prabuddha Dasgupta, Industry veteran & consultant discussed the challenges in FMCG & Food packaging. As consumption of packaged foods & FMCG products increases, so do the challenges associated with waste management mount. There is a renewed interest in F&B companies to relook at glass as a sustainable option. On the technology front, EB curing is also being looked at as a sustainable option for inks, coatings & lamination adhesives. New aseptic packaging technologies can offer shelf life of dairy products up to 90 days. In India, potential of bio- based polymers & paper- based packaging to meet sustainability & environmental requirements is immense.

J Sridhar, Marico, discussed some unique examples of innovations in FMCG packs which meet sustainability & design requirements.

K. A. Peter, Godrej Consumer Products Ltd listed the following expectations as a brand owner which included: Packs at affordable price points; Solution based innovation – product/pack composite systems; Development of commercially available compostable/ biodegradable materials locally; An infrastructure to produce quality Post-Consumer Recycled Plastics and Technologies for the use of Post-Consumer Recycled Plastics in Packaging.

Santosh Acharekar, Morchem India pointed out that with adhesives - food safety, sustainability & cost savings are the value addition derived for packaging applications. He discussed the role of primary aromatic amines in the context of safety of adhesives & also gave a comprehensive list of applicable standards & regulations across different countries. He summarized the expectation of Adhesive Properties:

  • 100% biodegradable and compostable.
  • Free of PAA migration
  • No yellowing
  • Excellent adhesion on compostable films.
  • Excellent results in terms of transparency and final appearance of the complex.

Abhay Deshpande, Recykal/Rapidue Technologies provided insights in to the emerging role of digital technologies in building the packaging waste management recycling chain. Various aspects like providing incentives, transparency in on-line transactions were highlighted.

Subhaprada Nishtala, VP, AFSTI Mumbai Chapter detailed the items & type of information that need to be included in the upcoming labelling regulations & making food companies future ready.

Gauri Barve Kale, Therefore Designs Pvt Ltd., presented a theme paper on evolving sustainable packaging designs for creating sustainable business models. The presentation also detailed the process of creating such designs Understanding consumer trends & building in simplicity is also important. Sustainability cannot be seen in isolation, but must factor in societal framework, cultural habits & businesses.

Nishant Shah, Director, Imaginarium Rapid illustrated the potential of 3D printing technology for packaging industry, including short runs, pre-market trials & customized packs for a variety of food & non-food products.

The concluding & perhaps significant paper on EPR & sustainability was presented by Dr Vijay Habbu, Reliance Industries Limited. Extended Producer Responsibility is an environmental policy approach in which the producer's responsibility for reducing environmental impact and managing the product is extended across the whole life cycle of the product, from selection of materials and design to its end-of-life, and especially for their take-back, recycling and disposal. In short, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) refers to a mandatory type of product stewardship. Instead of local government carrying the sole burden for disposal costs, EPR places the primary responsibility on the producer or the brand owner of a product.

The Key Take-Aways

  • Packaging is vital to ensure food safety & sustainable consumption
  • To achieve sustainability & EPR requirements, collection & incentives will play a key role.
  • No single entity can achieve these targets, but only concerted industry-government-society participation can work effectively.
  • Use of higher percentage of PCR plastics is being pursued actively by industry, yet meeting product safety standards.
  • FSSAI & BIS standards are comparable to globally acceptable norms for ensuring food safety.
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