Processing innovation: Tokyo Pack 2018

Asia packaging challenges 2030: ‘Instead of burning plastics, Japan wants to reuse and recycle’

By Jenny Eagle contact

- Last updated on GMT

Tokyo Pack 2018 questions the challenges of sustainable packaging in Japan.
Tokyo Pack 2018 questions the challenges of sustainable packaging in Japan.

Related tags: processing, Innovation, Packaging

Beyond 2030 it is difficult to identify F&B packaging milestones because of changing technology and consumer lifestyles, says ICPPJ.

Speaking at Tokyo Pack 2018, in Japan, last week (October 2-5), Michio Shimada, chairman, research committee Packaging Prediction, Institute of Certified Packaging Professionals, Japan (ICPPJ), said 2030-2050 is lacking visibility in terms of future trends and the best things to keep an eye on are the evolution of transport and technology. 

Two-way dialogue

In 2016, JPI started a two-year project on the ‘Future Prediction of Packaging and the Related World in 2030 and beyond’. 

It found future packaging will migrate to digital (Artificial Intelligence, IoT, RFID, Robotics) a sustainable society (food waste and protecting the environment) and smart logistics (directed by lifestyle).  

It is up to each country to enhance the level of education on a sustainable society, not to prohibit the use of plastics altogether but on how to collect plastics in the world today and to think of ways of how to reuse it​,” said Shimada. 

The answer is not to become emotional in this debate. We must do something about the plastic that is already in use today and look ahead in terms of manufacturing biodegradeable plastics.​” 

He added, manufacturers need to imagine what the future will look like up to 2030; extracting information from current packaging trends such as IoP (Internet of Packaging), smart logistics, Co2 emissions, microplastics, food loss and packaging innovation. 

Packaging will be connected to the internet by an added information function using IoP. By developing the IoT (Internet of Things) we will have a two-way dialogue between producers, retailers and consumers, with more traceability and prevention of counterfeit goods​,” said Shimada.  

He said by 2025 the Japan Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will introduce compulsory IC (integrated circuit) tags and the EU Circular Economy will have greater power. 

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which promotes policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world, its 2015 data report showed the recycling rate in Japan in 2013 was 20%, not including incineration. 

As part of Japan’s SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) regarding food loss it wants to cut the food disposal rate per person by half by 2030. Shimada claims the food self sufficiency rate of Japan is the lowest among advanced countries in 2017 at 38%. 

Mottainai Food

The 2019 Government plan is to reduce food loss, known as ‘Mottainai Food’ (‘what a waste’) with high performance barrier packaging set opposite a declining birthrate and people growing older in Japan . 

When asked where they see themselves in the future, consumers noted a population decline, single or small family units and ghost towns. They had a negative image of what is to come and this is where packaging has a role to make a difference​,” said ‘Shimada. 

There will be a big change in the Japanese social system; super-ageing, globalization, development of digitalization and high-speed internet, big data sharing, a ‘change of consumers consciousness, ethical consumption, reuse, sharing, easy packages, universal design, responsible consumption and disposable habits​. 

Supermarkets will no longer be a place of selling goods but an outlet to collecting information.​” 

Toshio Arita, head, Arita Packaging Consultant, member IPPO (International Packaging Press Organisation), said in the past Japanese people were indifferent to the fact that plastics were being burned.  

On June 11, this year the US and Japan were two of the G7 nations that did not sign the Ocean Plastics Charter; however, Japanese people are slowly realizing what they have accepted in the past is not a solution from a global perspective and other countries are more advanced in their thinking in this area​,” said Arita.  

However, steadfast efforts will be underway to take on this challenge with a redirection towards recycling rather than combustion, and our technologies here in Japan will make contributions to other countries in this respect.​  

Out of all the packages in the world PET bottles in Japan are the lightest and easiest to handle, and zipper tape was a Japanese invention as well as baby food standup pouches​.  

Once Japanese people become committed to a cause that is important, efforts will be made into achieving acceptable outcomes​.”

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