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Major changes forecast for the packaging sector means rapid innovation is needed

Experts at O F Packaging have seen first-hand what the future of packaging will look like as conventional materials are set to be replaced with sustainable alternatives.

O F Packaging is more than a packaging solution company, according to marketing manager Jessica Ansell. Instead, the company prides itself on being a champion of innovation and collaboration.

“We are heavily involved in the services that surround not just being a supplier but helping with innovation, education, and the training side of things,” said Ansell.

“We get a lot of clients coming to us who get projects that might be deemed too difficult or out of the box, or with requirements that might be too difficult for a standard supplier to meet. This is the area where we really shine.”

Ansell said O F Packaging has thrived on a thirst for innovation, including extensive R&D projects, trials, and testing – all designed to bring a client’s novel new ideas into reality.

“We are heavily involved in multiple markets and clients come to us asking for something new in their sector and we work with them to achieve making that a reality for them,” said Ansell.

For the company it is a great way to demonstrate its willingness to put in the time and effort, through trials, R&D, and testing stages, to meet the client’s needs.

“That side of the process has always been very important for us at O F Packaging,” said Ansell.

“And with innovation comes sustainability. Recently we joined with sustainability solution provider Close the Loop as part of our sustainability initiatives going forward.”

The partnership will focus on the backend recovery of packaging.

As a result of its ties to sustainability and recycling programs, O F Packaging works on an end-to-end spectrum, giving the company the ability to provide more sustainable packaging for its clients from the beginning of production, through to backend recovery.

“Innovation and sustainability really do go hand in hand, and we always pride ourselves on saying yes when others say it’s too hard,” said Ansell.

“Working and collaborating with people is so important for us. We build relationships and are in it for the long term.”

As part of its emphasis on collaboration, O F Packaging offer seminars to help clients get a better understanding of the company’s approach, ethos, and what the future of packaging could look like.

“We help customers by often giving them training on substantiality and flexible packaging, because end-of-life recovery for flexible packaging is the hard one. That’s because of the different laminated films used to ensure product performance,” said Ansell.

“Those individual films have to be separated during end-of-life recovery, which often doesn’t happen, and because of this they mostly go to land fill.”

By coming up with single material solutions, or at least easily separated materials, it’s hoped the number of used packages going to landfill will decrease.

Recycling programs are also playing a part in helping to reduce the level of used packaging ending up in landfill.

“Recycling programs have proven successful at getting people, and brand owners, to update and change what is seen as conventional packaging material specifications and make them more sustainable,” said Ansell.

“That includes doing things like removing PVDC and making waste recovery better. APCO are predicting that PVC and PVDC will likely be banned eventually, and they are products that have been used to give a bit more of a barrier to packaging.”

The removal of metallised film is another, things like polyester and aluminium foil, which give high barrier protection against oxygen and moisture.

These materials have been critical and creating better shelf life, with something like coffee for example. If the moves come to fruition, then many companies will be looking for alternative solutions.

“Trying to obtain the same level of protection without using these types of materials has been a challenge but now the industry has some excellent innovations and solutions as a whole,” said Ansell.

A recent success story from O F Packaging was its ongoing partnership with Kick Ice Cocktails, a homemade cocktail mixer pouch for consumers.

The product had to be designed with a specialty material structure to withstand the expansion of freezing liquid, because consumers must fill the pouch themselves before freezing it for use. This type of pouch structure is not common practice in the industry for liquids, Ansell said, so O F Packaging were tasked with helping come up with a better solution.

“They knew what they wanted it to do. They had their product and a clear idea of what they want the product to be, an easy and effective solution,” said Ansell.

“They do a lot of food service as well as E-commerce and they sell to hospitality and end consumers, so they wanted something that catered to all of those areas.”

Ansell said O F Packaging was more than happy to step up to the challenge, with flexible packaging presenting a range of issues to be overcome.

“Because of the challenges of flexible packaging in that space, we were more than ready to complete trials and tests to ensure product quality,” she added.

“We ended up getting great feedback from Kick Ice Cocktails and we will continue to work with them,” said Ansell.

Another example of O F Packaging developing new and innovative packaging designs was with an Australian-based coffee company, which was using the conventional foil to seal its product.

“We helped the company figure out what barrier they needed and what they were using,” said Ansell.

“Then we worked on a new barrier solution made from one type of plastic, instead of multiple types. In terms of moisture of oxygen barriers, it gave them close to the same value it used to have.”

Being abreast of what potential changes are coming for the future of packaging is a critical area of success for O F Packaging, which is always looking to stay ahead of the curve.

“It’s so important for us and one of the reasons when we hear things are changing, we immediately go to customers and use it as a good tool for them to start thinking about solutions for the future when their current packaging might not be viable or recyclable anymore,” said Ansell.

“It’s always better to start that testing and trial phase sooner rather than later, and we help clients through that, whether it is an immediate or future change, we can walk our clients through the process.”

Ansell said it was an important part of the company’s approach to give clients the time and opportunity to work with O F Packaging experts in key areas such as R&D, testing, and trailing, to ensure an easier transition.

“Being ahead of the game is key and looking abroad to see what changes are happening. This all comes into the equation when we speak with our clients,” said Ansell.


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