The latest initiatives and trends in sustainable packaging for greener environment point to five factors which really make a difference on the amount of greenhouse gasses used and related energy savings – materials, inks, curing, coatings and assembly. The objective is to allow for agile business continuity of the factories while providing customers with more green choices at less financial and environmental expense. To really reach sustainability, enterprises have to scrutinize the whole supply chain by making optimal decisions at design level in the manufacturing cycles in terms of heat and light used while at the same time being able to remain competitive and meet market demands.
• Materials – they relate to recycled and recyclable packaging. When new packaging is made, it is almost always necessary to use a certain amount of virgin fibers – new materials from trees. This increases the predictability of the resulting containerboard, print qualities etc. It is important to make the right calculations and fulfill product requirements (such as packaging food contact etc) and find the successful formula. Using the right amount of packaging is also crucial – over-packaging leads to increased transport expenses, bulkiness etc.
• Inks – use of environmentally friendly water-based inks is preferred. Some of them require no heat when they have to be applied.
• Coatings are used to seal and prepare the final product. Environmental concerns in this area would be use of coats without hazardous pollutants and ability to finish at lower temperatures
• Curing refers to toughening or hardening the final product. Sustainable packaging solutions use radiation (for non-food products) and require a lot less light and heat to complete the cycle.
• Assembly is referred to choice of flexible self-closing packaging, use of adhesive and/or metal, plastic staples etc. Newer water-based adhesives allow corrugated fiberboard to be attached by applying glue and pressure while extracting the water from the surfaces. This requires less use of energy.
Times are approaching when the lines of being green and efficient would cross and remain close for a long time. This would more than likely suggest that when proper technology is chosen and coupled with a business-driven and environmentally-aware management approach, manufacturers would stay abreast of green innovation. They would also be compliant with all green concerns while remaining lean on utility bills and ultimately competitive. Greater brand recognition and customer loyalty would naturally follow.