2020/09/24 A Circular Economy: Working Together to Achieve Sustainability in Packaging (part 2 of 2)

A Circular Economy: Working Together to Achieve Sustainability in Packaging

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Brands are also prioritizing sustainability through the use of bio-renewable inks and coatings. Utilizing printing products that are derived from renewable materials such as plants, rather than from petroleum-based sources, lowers the overall CO2 footprint of a package.

The fast food market has taken a strong leadership position in adopting bio-renewable inks and coatings. By printing bio-renewable inks for paper packaging on substrates such as paper bags, wraps, clamshells and paperboard, food service CPG companies are reaching their sustainability goals.

Collaboration was an important element in developing bio-renewable inks that meet the printing and application performance requirements for the converters while also being sustainable to meet the objectives of the CPGs and their consumer customers.

It is important that bio-renewable contents are verified by a third-party lab to ensure consistent reporting and accuracy in claims. For example, the National Association of Printing Inks Manufacturers (NAPIM) offers a universal verification program to the printing ink industry which calculates and reports the bio-renewable carbon (BRC) content of any ink through a BRC index number.
Compostable packaging is another route that many brands are exploring to improve sustainability because this option allows brands to still achieve their sustainability goals without sacrificing flexibility or the number of product iterations. It also requires collaboration between converters, ink manufacturers and substrate manufacturers to ensure the full package can be certified as compostable.

For a package to be compostable, all aspects of the package — inks, coatings, adhesives, substrates — must also be compostable. Each one of its components must biodegrade naturally within a specified timeframe under controlled conditions or be confirmed not to negatively impact that biodegradation. The design of the package and application of various components must comply with specific standards.

To ensure that the inks conform to the compostability standards, companies rely on certifications provided by independent entities, such as TÜV Austria in Europe and BPI in North America, that carry out laboratory tests on the finished packaging product or on its separate components (including the inks) to prove that they fully meet European EN 13432 or North American ASTM D6400 and D6868 protocols.

If certified, the material used would be considered compostable or compliant with compostability without leaving excessive levels of toxins, heavy metals or plastic residues in the soil.
Ink manufacturers that also manufacture compostable adhesives and coatings can produce a variety of solutions that work together as one in a compostable package — a one-stop shop that could greatly benefit CPGs in reaching their sustainability objectives.
The Circular Economy
When it comes to achieving overall packaging sustainability and circularity, many organizations across the total supply chain must come together to deliver different components to meet the larger objective.

The CPGs are driving the need to consider the full lifecycle of any packaging or printing product beyond its use in the application to its end of life and disposal.

By aligning goals toward a common outcome, working with partners and associations that hold similar sustainability values, and by prioritizing a sustainable end result for all products released into the market, the packaging industry can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, minimize waste production and, one day, truly achieve sustainability.