Innovation platform could optimise packaging

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Supply chain, Innovation, Technology

A call to action to the global industry to send examples of sustainable packaging technology from primary, secondary and tertiary packaging to innovative machinery, distribution and IT systems has been initiated by a UK government funded programme.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is seeking to engage brands, retailers, ink, adhesive and coatings suppliers as well as packaging companies in a project that that will showcase novel applications aimed at reducing carbon and other environmental impacts as well as reducing waste throughout the supply chain.

Sustainable packaging systems company, PEC Partnership, have been commissioned by WRAP to undertake the study.

New developments

The agency said that the focus of the project is on existing and close-to-market technologies, with companies that meet the selection criteria being showcased on WRAP's website and at future events, which are, it claims, attended by key decision makers.

This level of showcasing will position “participating companies as thought-leaders and innovators, as well as enhancing their reputation and awareness in today’s competitive market,”​ stated the agency.

According to WRAP, the ultimate objective of the exercise is to develop a resource that companies througout the supply chain can tap into to enable further innovation and encourage faster uptake of emerging sustainable options within the UK.

“Intellectual property rights will not be affected by participation in the study,” ​claims the agency.

Review of barriers

Retail supply chain manager at WRAP, Charlotte Henderson, told that the agency will assess whether the innovations that it comes across are being applied in the UK, and, moreover, it will work with businesses to evaluate what the barriers are to the uptake of such technologies as well as exploring how these can be overcome to drive further resource efficiency.

She said that the type of technologies the agency was hoping to create more awareness about would include those that can extend the shelf life of food products, enable more reusable packaging or tools to cut waste on packing and filling lines.

“The project is steered by a range of representatives from across the packaging sector, including the Packaging Federation, PAFA, MPMA, CPI, British Glass, BPF, Incpen, Marks & Spencer and Boots, ensuring that the industry as a whole can benefit from the work,”​ she said.

Cross-sector collaboration

Speaking to this publication, Jane Bickerstaffe, director of the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (Incpen), said that the beauty of the project was that it could unearth cases of packaging innovation in sectors such as detergents or shampoos that could equally apply to a food product.

“Food companies might not be aware of the novel techniques aimed at reducing packaging waste or improving efficiencies in the supply chain that other sectors have developed. This showcasing model can proof effective in that regard,”​ she added.

And Peter Davis, director-general of the British Plastics Federation, said that much can be learnt from overseas: “This project should ensure that we are aware of innovative international plastics packaging developments which reduce wastage and weight, increase convenience and marketing advantage, in addition to recycling."

WRAP said that submissions for the first stage of the project should be sent by 30 April 2009, with those received after that date to be included in a review at a later stage of the study. The agency added that the database of resource efficient technology should be online by autumn 2009.

More information on the project can be downloaded here.

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