Top Packaging Summit

Top Packaging Summit 2011 – in Malmö, Sweden. October 20th 2011

A high level packaging conference with a quite impressive line of speakers. We are seeing on stage presenters obviously from the packaging industry but also from the brand owers and the retailers.

The conference is on the theme ”The future and the possibilities for consumer packaging”with a  focus on the emerging opportunities for the packaging industry. The speakers will cover topics as:

  • Packaging Innovation
  • Consumer and Packaging Trends
  • Brand Owners´ Packaging Strategies
  • The Retailers’ Future Demands and Preferences

This is taking place in Malmö, Sweden on October 20th. For more info and booking please visit

Rip, Remove and Recycle

Another new packaging stemming from out of the box pondering hit the shelves in February this year. GreenBottle in the UK has developed a bag-in-box packaging for milk to replace the normally used plastic bottles. The outer shell is made from paper which can be recycled, or is promised to decompose within a matter of weeks. The inner bag is made of recycled plastic which scores some extra green points. It also resulted in a carbon footprint 48% lower than that of a standard (plastic) milk bottle.

Since February the “bottle” has been available in selected Asda stores. Now reports have that sales of milk packaged in GreenBottle’s recycled paper and plastic hybrid design have tripled those of plastic bottles, even though they have sold at a premium.

Watch this bottle.

Love food, hate waste

Consumers only in the UK (to take an example) are throwing away 8.3 million tonnes of good food worth £12 billion a year. Households actually throw away more food and drink (8.3 mt) each year than packaging (4.9 mt)! This, all according to WRAP, turns into mind-boggling facts when you realise that this wasted food represents 20 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in emissions each year. This is all hard to comprehend but this amount of emissions is in fact the equivalent of taking 1 in 4 cars off the road…

Now I don’t have the statistics for more markets then the UK but I think this is well representing the situation in the mature markets where food waste, of this kind, is a problem. This is not food spoilt in transportation or by defective storage in the distribution chain. It is food wasted by the consumer and it is worth yearly, still in the UK, a staggering £600/$950/€725 to the average family. The amounts are substantial, both for the average family finances and from an environmental view.

The situation is an opportunity for packaging, in many ways. Packaging can help and offer a solution but this can also provide a balanced view of packaging and its role in the growing waste mountain.

Packaging sizes can be fine-tuned to more accurate portions or simply by using smaller sizes you would avoid having to throw away leftovers. Packaging can offer better barriers if that is the problem and tips and advice can be printed on a label or similar.

Simply by addressing the problem it is hard to miss that packaging is not the gigantic garbage generator it sometimes is said to be.

When will “nano” take off?

That is a big question as we keep talking about all the benefits that we will achieve when we get there. Why can’t we, packaging people, use nanotechnology when everybody else seems to do just that? We also want the stronger and thinner, therefore lighter, materials. We want to improve shelf life and enjoy the lower package costs.

Nanotechnology is used in medical drug delivery, wrinkle free textiles and even in cosmetics for sunscreen. Just to mention a few examples. There are so many potential applications in the packaging sphere. With nanotechnology we could, for example, have better barriers for the benefit of the PET bottle and barrier films. The PET bottle could qualify for beer, delivering the barriers and give the consumer the sturdy glass feel.

Within packaging, nanotechnology is today used for freshness indicators, giving the status of meat and poultry. Japan is leading that development but it seems that cost is an issue that holds back also the nano development. The recession has probably held back the progress with tighter budgets and the general caution.

I do think that with, hopefully, better times ahead that the use of nanotechnology will develop also in the packaging industry. Given the benefits and successful implementation in other industries it will be a question of time.

The matter has to be treated carefully though. As with all new technologies that are introduced into everyday life, health and safety concerns will arise.

Food producers are exploring the possibilities and have found a way of using nanotechnology to make low-fat or fat-free foods just as appetising and satisfying as their full-fat fellows. But the mistrust that hit GM food must be avoided and now is the time to do something about that. I think the industry should be more communicative and talk about the potentials for all involved. The risk to end up in another “Frankenstein Food” debate is definitely there.