Innovative Sustainable Packaging Designs Recognised In Food & Beverage

Friday, October 16th, 2020

A commentary on the WorldStar Packaging Awards’ Sustainable Design category, contributed by Nerida Kelton MAIP, Executive Director of the Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) and Board Member of the World Packaging Organisation (WPO). 

The 2025 National Packaging Targets enables Brands to clearly understand what outcomes they need to achieve to ensure that the packaging put into the market is sustainable and circular by design by the year 2025. 

The targets include that the packaging is 100 percent reusable, recyclable or compostable, 70 percent of plastic packaging is being recycled or composted, packaging includes 50 percent of average recycled content and there is a phase out of problematic and unnecessary single-use plastics packaging in Australia—all by 2025.

A high number of companies across the Food and Beverage industries are set to achieve these targets and are evident through the 2020 Australasian Packaging Innovation & Design (PIDA) Awards for Australia and New Zealand.

The Sustainable Packaging Design Award is the most coveted category of the annual PIDA Awards and the quantity of entries this year was a clear indication that Brands are actively engaged in meeting the 2025 Targets. The hardest part for the judges was selecting the winners from a high-quality shortlist of finalists.

The Sustainable Packaging Design Award has been designed to recognise companies that have developed innovative packaging or processing solutions that incorporates sustainability considerations. Elements include Efficient Use of Materials, Source Reduction, Energy, Recovery and Recyclability, Sustainable Packaging Design Considerations, packaging changes to meet the 2025 National Packaging Targets and Benefits to Society. This is a WorldStar Packaging Awards category.

Due to the broad range of packaging design innovations that covered everything from milk cartons to e-commerce solutions the winners were split into two sub-categories: Retail Pack and Product Protection.


2020 Sustainable Packaging Design Special Award—Retail Pack

The winner of the Gold Award for the 2020 Sustainable Packaging Design of the Year category—Retail Pack was Coca-Cola Amatil for the 100 percent recyclable post-consumer recycled rPET bottles.

Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) has provided key industry leadership and assisted the drive to the circular economy by making and delivering on a commitment to convert all of their single serve PET bottles to 100 percent post-consumer recycled PET resin (rPET).

Many other bottlers both in Australia and around the world have converted their water bottles to 100 percent rPET, however CCA is the first to achieve this on the technical difficult carbonated soft drink (CSD) bottles, sensitive warm filled bottles and aseptic dairy bottles. By converting all of these SKU’s to 100 percent rPET, seven out of every ten bottles CCA sells in Australia are now made from recycled post-consumer resin. This equates to over 55 percent of CCA’s total PET tonnage or a reduction of CCA’s use of virgin plastics in Australia by around 16,000 tonnes a year.

Even more technically remarkable after the bottle weight reductions undertaken over the last decade, the conversion to rPET was achieved without increasing the weights of any packs and in the case of the preform used for warm fill and aseptic dairy, they successfully light weighted these bottles by a further 8.5 percent during the conversion to rPET.

CCA’s commitment to increased use of recycled PET has created the important demand in Australia, which will encourage further investment in this area so that all recycled PET used in Australia is sourced from Australia. Following the launch of the rPET conversion program CCA recognising their own need to source local rPET and they now have announced a joint venture with Veolia to develop the business case around building an rPET plant in Australia.

The winner of the Silver Retail Pack Award was Pact Group for New Zealand’s Earthwise brand of PCR 75 percent rHDPE household cleaning range.

Earthwise has been pioneering eco-friendly products for over 50 years and is one of New Zealand’s most trusted environmental brands. Sustainability is at the heart of everything they do and are always looking for ways to improve their environmental footprint. 

Earthwise follows environmental practices that take into consideration the full life cycle of a product, from sourcing plant-based ingredients, use of recyclable packaging, and management of energy, water and waste to reduce their contribution to landfill.   

Earthwise pledged support to the New Zealand Plastic Packaging Declaration and with packaging already recyclable, moving to bottles made from recycled content was the next step. Earthwise will have reused and diverted over 320 tonnes of plastic packaging from landfills over the next 12months.

The winner of the Bronze Retail Pack Award was a tie between Brownes Dairy for Australia’s first renewable gable top milk carton and UPM Raflatac & Kiwi Labels for the CUSTOM-PAK rPET Cherry Punnet with self-adhesive label, permanent adhesive that is also washable at the PET recycling plant.

Brownes Dairy is Australia’s oldest and most innovative dairy. They identified that to be truly sustainable they must focus on both end-of-life management and recycling, considering the full end-to-end environmental impact their products and package have. After considering different packaging options, Brownes decided to progress the Tetra Rex Bio-Based Carton, from Tetra Pak. Tetra Rex Bio-Based packages are the world’s first fully renewable carton packages—made entirely from bio-based, fully renewable materials. The paperboard used is certified by the FSC and is recyclable.

The Cherry Punnet Label applied to the CUSTOM-PAK rPET container has been manufactured on UPM Raflatac Label Stock, printed by Kiwi Labels and has three features to consider that are relevant to criteria 1: Firstly, the label enables significantly enhanced recyclability of the package once discarded; secondly the package is manufactured from 100 percent rPET, rather than just virgin PET; and lastly, components of the label stock, namely the label liner, now contains 90 percent post-consumer recycled (PCR) waste which has replaced virgin plastic.


2020 Sustainable Packaging Design Special Award—Product Protection

The winner of the Gold Award for the 2020 Sustainable Packaging Design of the Year – Product Protection category was actually a tie between Opal Packaging for the recyclable moulded paper inserts Sealed Air Brand Protective Packaging for the TempGuard kerbside recyclable packaging for pre-packaged, temperature sensitive goods.

The Opal Packaging inserts provide superior protection and presentation for fresh produce inside the carton and offer a recyclable alternative to standard, non-recyclable PVC plastic inserts.

The recyclable moulded paper inserts are made from responsibly sourced fibre and can be customised with specific colours and branding for a range of products. The inserts are currently available for avocado and mango segments in multiple count sizes. 

The individually moulded trays provide shock and vibration protection (no ringing on fruit) and offers ventilation and moisture control characteristics to ensure fresh produce integrity.

The inserts are fully recyclable and an alternative to the standard plastic inserts as they are a third lighter than the current industry PP/PVC insert, which weighs 24gm compared with the moulded paper inserts at 16gm. The inserts can also be reused and are space efficient for storage compared to the plastic inserts. They simplify the recycling process as there is no need to separate inserts from the cartons, saving time and reducing contamination within ‘bale press’ recycling.

Sealed Air’s TempGuard is a fully Kerbside recyclable and ARL compliant paper pouch liner made from virgin kraft paper and is filled with 100 percent recycled paper. It is used to line cartons that are used for distribution to deliver exceptional thermal insulation for chilled items including chilled meals, pharmaceuticals and chocolate.

TempGuard flexible liner pads are only 14mm thick yet provides cushioning and protection with greater space efficiency compared to EPS (wall thickness of 30mm) and allowing the opportunity for customers to decrease the size of the outer carton. TempGuard’s flatpack format enables reduced warehousing costs (space and utilities) and efficiency improvements compared with EPS.  

TempGuard virgin kraft fibres on the pouch exterior means that the pouch remains unaffected by product condensation which is especially important for chilled applications such as seafood and for other chilled good processors who are looking for alternatives to EPS.

TempGuard is fully recyclable through PREP with on pack communication providing clear information to consumers about what to do with the product at the end of life.

The judges also awarded a High Commendation for the Sustainable Packaging Design of the Year – Product Protection category to Omni Group for the PerformX 100 percent recyclable stretch wrap. This reinforced film requires fewer wrapping rotations while significantly higher holding force. PerformX uses over 50 percent less film than conventional stretch film.

All of these remarkable Sustainable Packaging Designs are now eligible for global peer- recognition through the prestigious WorldStar Packaging Awards. 

The 2021 PIDA Awards will be open in late 2020 and the judges are excited to see what new innovative Sustainable Packaging is being designed to meet the 2025 National Packaging Targets. Certainly, this year’s entries are a fine example of what work is being undertake in the industry to achieve the targets.


Check these articles out:

AIP To Run Three Packaging Workshops And A One-Day Training Course Alongside ProPak Philippines

PepsiCo Accelerates Plastic Waste Reduction Efforts

Let’s Be Truthful About Sustainable Packaging Claims On-Pack

Greiner Packaging Partners With Plastic Bank To Open Plastic Collection Centers In The Philippines

5.5 Percent Growth Expected For The Global Non-Alcoholic Beverage From 2020 To 2026

Traces Of Coronavirus Detected On Food Packaging

Sustainable Food Predictions For 2019