Combined effort helps pave the way to sustainable packaging

A  national packaging target will see 100 per cent of Australia’s packaging become reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. The goal also includes targeting plastic packaging by moving to 70 per cent recyclable or compostable plastic packaging by 2025. Problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging will also be phased out through design, innovation or introduction of alternatives.

Global companies such as Nestlé, Unilever, Coca-Cola Amatil and Jet Technologies are making improvements to meet these standards. In late September, the federal government launched an official Australasian recycling label as an important tool for achieving the 2025 targets. The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) explained that the new evidence-based system is designed to combat confusion about recycling as there are currently more than 200 recycling labels.

Minister for the environment, Melissa Price, said the label provides people with easy-to-understand recycling information when they need it most – in those few seconds when they are deciding what bin the package goes in. “The label removes confusion and reduces waste,” she said.

More than 50 Australian businesses have committed to the program, with the label now being used by brands including Woolworths, Officeworks, Nestlé, Unilever and Plantic. These APCO members, and others such as Jet Technologies, Blackmores and Australia Post, have committed to the design, manufacture and use of packaging that will ensure recyclable packaging.

Packaging: small and large matters
Whether it’s a wrapper covering a bite-sized chocolate morsel, or box of refreshing beverages, the target is aimed at all food and beverage packaging. Jet Technologies gives its clients solutions for numerous packaging challenges, including offering recyclable packaging for the beverage industry down to small items such as wine hoods that sit on large recyclable glass bottles. The company is working closely with APCO to meet the 2025 packaging goals.

Jet Technologies is a specialist importer and distributor of products to the packaging industry, the industrial manufacturing industry and the print and finishing industry. Within the beverage industry, it supplies sparkling wine hoods, wine and spirits closures, bag-in-box beverage holders and casks. The company’s business development manager packaging, Carl D’Costa, said these products help beverages and liquid foods stay fresher for longer, minimising waste, and they are made from recyclable materials.

The company’s sparkling wine hoods are made from biocompatible material, a patented polymer that is multi-layered and self-supporting. The hoods are free from glues and adhesion promoter and are made from 100 per cent vegetable origin. “It’s also certified for contact with foodstuffs in compliance with all European and non‐European regulations. Migration tests on the polylaminate verify the absence of harmful or hazardous substances such as Bisphenol A, heavy metals and aromatic substances,” he said.

As the aluminium is suitable for use with foodstuffs, it has a definite size and guaranteed strength and it can be reused in other sectors, including production of window‐units or carpentry,” said D’Costa.

Improving shelf life
Jet Technologies’ bag-in-box products factor in sustainability by promoting better shelf life. The range includes sizes from 1-1500 litres, spout options and barrier and non-barrier options. The barrier refers to the transmission rates of the laminate of which the bag is produced. The two main areas of interest are oxygen and water vapour transmission rates. The lower the reading, the better the barrier, which creates a better shelf life.

“Good integrity against oxygen ingress is the key,” said D’Costa. The bags and the Roll on Pilfer Proof (ROPP), also known as screw caps, help to keep the packaging intact, he said. “They must provide a good seal to the bottle – preventing leakage as well as oxidation.”

There are also anti-refill options available for bottle closures, which prevents unwanted liquids entering the vessel and it keeps it safe from tampering. “The end user must have confidence that the product purchased is fresh and has all the qualities, tastes and smells as per the manufacturers’ intention. Providing an air tight, tamper-proof seal, which eliminates oxygen, ensures the product remains as fresh as possible,” said D’Costa.

The anti-fill insert is a plastic moulded piece that is inserted into the ROPP. “Once the ROPP is screwed onto the bottle, it attaches itself to the bottle and is difficult to remove. The insert allows fluid to flow out of the bottle but nothing can be poured back in. This also provides security against contamination,” said D’Costa. ROPP closures are also a viable option that save manufacturers money and replaces corks or continuous thread caps made of metal or plastic, he said.

Looking the part
Jet Technologies puts strong value on providing sustainable and environmentally conscious products, but the company also knows that manufacturers need a product that will look good on the shelf. “The design of ROPP closures provides more room for logos, graphics and other design elements. This advantage is one of our favourite reasons behind helping manufacturers utilise this packaging option. With flat litho printing and rotary offset printing of up to five colours, we can help you maximise your ROPP closure to fit your branding,” said D’Costa.

There are numerous amounts of colours that can be achieved as well as the opportunity to include up to five colours per cap. “The design is only restricted by the area and the designer’s imagination,” he said.

D’Costa said the closures have proven to be a reliable option for manufacturers of spirits, wine and alcoholic or non-alcoholic sparkling beverages, but they are not limited to the drinks sector. “ROPP closures can be applied beyond beverage containers. In fact, one common way you may see them is for use with vinegars and oils, too. With our experience and focus on innovation, you can get the best guidance in the industry as you explore your options,” he said.

Closures are not the only eco product that Jet Technologies has to offer. The company also supplies a high barrier bio-laminate for use in the flexible packaging market. The laminate is based on PLA (Polylactic Acid) and is recyclable as well as compostable. The PLA will readily breakdown forming CO2 and water. The laminate is particularly useful in the coffee industry where current foil laminates are required to give good barrier properties, but the actual packaging can only go to landfill.

Working together to achieve sustainability
Brooke Donnelly, CEO, APCO, said reaching the landmark target of sustainable packaging by 2025 cannot be done without the help of companies. “Businesses play a crucial role in making this target a reality.” The target was announced in April 2018 and it includes businesses beyond the food and beverage sector. Pharmaceuticals, printing, toy and sporting goods companies are also taking on the challenge to use more sustainable packaging. “From design to production, there is a wide range of opportunities for organisations to improve the sustainability across the life cycle of their packaging,” she said.

“Reaching the landmark goal set by the Environment Ministers will require a complete transformation of the way our society thinks about packaging. As a nation we will need to start recognising it as a valuable resource and not just waste that is destined for landfill. Here at APCO, we know we can do it, but we can’t do it alone.

“A collective, collaborative approach by organisations will always achieve a more powerful, effective result. It enables the cross pollination of ideas and innovation and drives the development of viable and scalable economic programs across sectors that share problematic material issues,” said Donnelly.