Innovative sustainable packaging designs recognised

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 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable; 70 per cent of plastic packaging is being recycled or composted; packaging includes 50 per cent of average recycled content and there is a phase out of problematic and unnecessary single-use plastics packaging in Australia.

A 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 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.

Due to the range of packaging design innovations, which 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 per cent 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 per cent post-consumer recycled PET resin (rPET).

Many other bottlers both in Australia and around the world have converted their water bottles to 100 per cent rPET, however CCA is the first to achieve this on the technically difficult carbonated soft drink (CSD) bottles, sensitive warm filled bottles and aseptic dairy bottles. By converting all of these SKU’s to 100 per cent rPET, seven out of every 10 bottles CCA sells in Australia are now made from recycled post-consumer resin. This equates to over 55 per cent 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. In the case of the preform used for warm fill and aseptic dairy, the company successfully light weighted these bottles by a further 8.5 per cent during the conversion to rPET.

CCA’s commitment to increased use of recycled PET has created 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 recognised their 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 per cent rHDPE household cleaning range.

Earthwise has been pioneering eco-friendly products for more than 50 years. Sustainability is at the heart of everything it does and the company is always looking for ways to improve its 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 more than 320 tonnes of plastic packaging from landfills over the next 12 months.

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, a permanent adhesive that is also washable at the PET recycling plant.

Brownes Dairy identified that to be truly sustainable it must focus on both end-of-life management and recycling, considering the full end-to-end environmental impact its products and packaging have on  the environment.

After considering different packaging options, Brownes decided to progress the Tetra Rex bio-based carton, from Tetra Pak. These 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 one.

First, the label enables enhanced recyclability of the package once discarded; second the package is manufactured from 100 per cent rPET, rather than just virgin PET; and last, components of the label stock, namely the label liner, now contains 90 per cent 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 a tie between Opal Packaging for its recyclable moulded paper inserts, and Sealed Air Brand Protective Packaging for the TempGuard kerbside recyclable packaging for pre-packaged, temperature sensitive goods.

The Opal Packaging inserts provide 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 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 kerbside recyclable and ARL compliant paper pouch liner made from virgin kraft paper and is filled with 100 per cent recycled paper. It is used to line cartons that are used for distribution to deliver thermal insulation for chilled items including chilled meals, pharmaceuticals and chocolate.

TempGuard flexible liner pads are 14mm thick and provide cushioning and protection with greater space efficiency compared to EPS (wall thickness of 30mm), and allows 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 important for chilled applications such as seafood and for other chilled good processors who are looking for alternatives to EPS.
TempGuard is recyclable through PREP with on-pack communication providing 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 per cent recyclable stretch wrap. This reinforced film requires fewer wrapping rotations while giving higher holding force. PerformX uses over 50 per cent less film than conventional stretch film.

All of these 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.