Importance of packaging targets and consumer demand

Favourite Packaging converting its most popular packaging options into recyclable mono-structured material is key to its future growth.

Favourite Packaging being able to convert its most popular packaging options into recyclable mono-structured material is key to its future growth. Adam McCleery writes.

Favourite Packaging’s mono-structured packaging solutions have come down the pipe at just the right time as we get closer to the 2025 National Packaging Targets.

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), of which Favourite Packaging is a member, has helped to set out the 2025 targets, which require a complete and systemic change to the way Australia creates, collects, and recovers product packaging. A critical step in the country’s push towards a more circular economy.

The 2025 targets are supported by the Federal, and all State and Territory Governments and were also included in the 2019 National Waste Policy Action Plan and the 2021 National Plastics Plan.

Knowing the changes that were underway, the team at Favourite Packaging worked tirelessly to convert its packaging options, such as its stand-up pouches and Printed Rewind, into recyclable packaging.

“Being able to convert those across to mono-structures, which we hadn’t been able to do in the past, is the big positive change over the past 12 months or so,” said Justin Yates, managing director, Favourite Packaging.

“That’s what APCO has set in its guidelines, mono-structure, and no PET material. PET used to be the go-to material to give shelf life with good oxygen and water barriers, as well as being cheap and plentiful.”

Yates said the membership with APCO had also helped both the company and the organisation better understand what viable options were on the table.

“It’s been good as far as getting information from APCO and what they want,” he said.

“They are also asking us about what’s possible in terms of solutions to get to easily recyclable material.

“If we can give them as much up to date information on new technology and materials, they can try and fit that into their grand plan.”

Among the targets set out by the 2023 National Packaging Targets are reaching 100 per cent reusable, recyclable, or compostable packaging, with 70 per cent of plastic being recycled or composted.

The other two targets are a 50 per cent average recycled content included in packaging and to phase out problematic and unnecessary single use plastic packaging.

The challenge for Favourite Packaging was being able to offer the same barrier strength, and therefore shelf life, as the PET packaging solutions.

“It’s very important now that everyone knows we must move in a particular direction,” said Yates.

“We had to come up with something else that was a mono-polymer and fit in with APCO guidelines which would then allow it to be considered recyclable in the new guidelines.

“It’s now at the point where we can get as good a barrier if not better, than a standard PET while removing the difficulties around trying to recycle it.”

To achieve this, the mono-material is made with two layers, which also helps mitigate the risk of external scuffing of the outside of the pack.

“If it’s kept to less materials in the soft plastic, it is much easier to recycle. We have been recycling soft plastic for over fifty years and its only difficult when there are so many laminated varieties,” said Yates.

Which was why a mono-material was critical for Favourite Packaging. And as Yates stated, it is the biggest positive to come out of the company’s product development in the last 12 months.

A bonus to the new mono-structure packaging solutions is the ability to reduce the carbon footprint of packaging by as much as 60 per cent through its use, with the reduction trickling down the entire recycling process.

Research has also shown that consumers are increasingly making their purchasing decisions based upon ethics and sustainability. Meaning introducing recyclable packaging, like that offered by Favourite Packaging, helps to not only meet packaging targets, but customer demand.

Favourite Packaging can also customise the recyclable pouch to meet the needs of the manufacturer or producer.

This includes stand up and flat bottom and offer both regular and high barrier versions and apply customised design and full colour printing, including adding an ARL or customised insignia to indicate the packaging is recyclable.

On top of this, mono-plastic recyclable pouches are being used more and more for coffee packaging, supplement packaging, a variety of foods, and even spout pouches for beverages.

Yates conceded the cost of taking up the new recyclable packaging was not competitive with current packaging options, but the 2025 targets, among others, meant the move would be required one way or the other.

“Cost is always a key part but when you have to move to fit in with new guidelines, the industry understands this already, and they understand the price difference will start to drop as the volume picks up,” he added.

“The recycled material is more price competitive than compostable.

“If you do leave it late, you will fall well behind competitors who have moved over to it.”

The change in consumer demands around packaging are also driving major changes in the way companies approach their packaging choices.

“It’s moved from a position where no one gave any thought to packaging to going full circle with consumers wanting to know more about what can be done with the packaging,” said Yates.

“They want to know if it is recycled properly, and locally. That’s often the first question new customers enquire about.

“If they are confident of a solution that fits with them then they go down the track of looking at different options about what suits their product. It often starts now with the end in mind when it comes to packaging.”

The next challenge for Favourite Packaging is settling on the right labelling for the packaging, labels that won’t compromise its recyclability.

“APCO is set to give some guidance as to what labelling will be used to still allow it to go into a soft plastic recycling scheme later this year,” said Yates.

“The look of the product and feel is almost the same, it isn’t a big change over but an opportunity to revamp packaging and incorporate the fact it’s a recyclable product.”

Yates said the company also anticipates an even greater focus on recyclable plastics throughout 2023.

Favourite Packaging will continue to innovate and improve on packaging technology to keep up with changing packaging standards and consumer demands.

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