Eco-friendly packaging more than just a trend

The call for greater sustainable practices has mandated a change in packaging technology. With this in mind, manufacturers can look toward compostable packaging to deliver minimum wastage and emissions, and maximum green benefits.

By Gino Sun, regional business director of Bostik Advanced Packaging for APAC

With countries worldwide increasingly focused on reducing their environmental impact, greater sustainability has become recognised as a critical enabler in supporting global emissions reductions.

Consumer priorities have changed significantly in favour of more sustainable options. Consumers look for sustainable alternatives, especially in food and beverage packaging, which commands more than half the share of the global packaging industry.

The pandemic led to a sharp increase in single-use plastic products. However, demand for sustainable packaging continues to expand. Many are calling for action to curb the single-use plastic boom to minimise additional greenhouse gas and other emissions

Despite this, the industry is still set to grow with increased global demand for on-the-go meals to fuel fast-paced lifestyles. To stay competitive and maintain their social license to operate, selecting packaging solutions that demonstrate their eco-friendly credentials are now the only option for companies. Manufacturers now look at the most effective ways to help reduce packaging waste from their products. As consumer appetite for safer, more environmentally friendly products grows, so does the preference for options like compostable packaging.

What is compostable packaging, and why is it important?

Apart from recycling, compostable packaging could be the answer to addressing sustainability initiatives. Compostable packaging is a solution that can fully disintegrate into natural elements, like soil, in around three months. It requires less carbon to produce than other packaging, and it does not produce toxins as it breaks down.

Every packaging element must meet compostable requirements, including the board stocks, inks, and adhesives to be considered compostable. It is vital to clarify that the words ‘biodegradable’ and ‘compostable’ do not share the same definition. Although biodegradable packaging does break down, there is no set amount of time, meaning it could take several hundred years. In contrast, compostable products fully decompose within a given time frame. The Biodegradable Product Institute (BPI) certifies fully compostable products, whereas some biodegradable products do not meet the correct criteria.

There are many benefits to compostable packaging. The primary advantage is that compostable products can provide essential nutrients to encourage growth when fully broken down into the earth. Some studies suggest that these materials can improve the overall soil structure and mitigate the potential of flooding. Even if compostable items unintentionally end up in landfills, there will be no chemical leaching, therefore providing a sustainable end-of-life option. Furthermore, compostable packaging items are made from natural materials, which is not necessarily the case for biodegradable.

Benefits for the planet and business

Compostable packaging can help manufacturers too. Research has shown that consumers feel more positive about their purchases if they are buying an eco-friendly product. As consumers become more environmentally conscious, capitalising on the changing market demand to provide more sustainable products can expand the customer base for companies. Furthermore, the implementation of sustainable packaging solutions can help bolster a company’s eco-friendly messaging.

Choosing a compostable alternative for packaging can reduce waste processing costs because natural materials are typically lighter than manufactured materials. This can also reduce overall shipping costs. When it comes to packaging design, other materials can face design restrictions. However, compostable packaging enables greater design innovation and freedom.

A key enabler in increasing the use and capabilities of compostable packaging has been the development of effective compostable adhesives.

How do compostable adhesives benefit compostable packaging?

Compostable adhesives enable the creation of fully 100% compostable packaging. Using compostable adhesives will ensure that the packaging can decompose fully while avoiding landfills, diminishing the harmful greenhouse gases released from food packaging waste.

Compostable adhesives can be used in various applications, including closed venues, single-use packaging, single-use items, food packaging, and municipal curb side collections.

Compostable adhesive will help you stand out

Bostik manufactures smart adhesives that are fully compatible with compostable materials. By being fully biodegradable, they do not contribute to the waste stream, helping promote sustainability and clean environments.

Bostik’s Thermogrip 43298 is the first-ever BPI-certified hot melt adhesive ensured 100% compostable. The adhesive works within service temperatures ranging from zero to 180F (-17.7 to 82C). This vast service temperature range ensures that the product can work well within most processing methods. Thermogrip 43298 also provides excellent adhesion to compostable plastics and fibres, ensuring that performance and quality requirements can be easily met.

With evolving consumer demands, it has never been more critical for companies in the food and beverage industry to adopt improved and more effective sustainable options, especially for packaging. The pandemic might have generated a short-term rise in demand for single-use plastic and consumption. However, the long-term direction of food and beverage packaging trends is clearly towards greater sustainability.

With the future of the planet and humans’ responsibility to mitigate their impact on it at the top of the global agenda, calls for businesses to adopt more environmentally friendly packaging options will only continue to grow now and in the future.

This article was published in the February/March issue of Food & Beverage Asia.