An industry rethinks production: Packaging it right

Luca Grazzini Luca Grazzini Industry Segment Manager

More than ten million tons of packaging are produced every year. This staggering amount of wrappers, foam peanuts, boxes, and bags makes it one of the most widespread and profitable industries in the world. Despite its prevalence, it is also a somewhat invisible field in the market. Consumers have become accustomed to seeing through the thin layer of plastic between them and their dinner, whether it is a pack of chicken wings, a head of broccoli or a loaf of bread. Beyond just food and beverages, almost every product we purchase comes with a package which we buy only to take home and throw away.

It is undeniable that advances in the packaging industry have been a critical asset in reducing waste by protecting against bacteria and extending product shelf life, but new questions of sustainability are placing greater demands on the creativity and innovation of companies both large and small.

Due to an increased global consciousness, an estimated 60% of packaging is recovered and recycled, but for a growing number of consumers, this is no longer enough. As manufacturers reevaluate their social responsibility, a renovation of packaging production is required.

Partnered in creative collaboration

Over the decades, Habasit has been a reliable and reputable partner for thousands of customers in the packaging industry and we are well-equipped to meet the demands of an emerging eco-friendly market. Habasit works closely with individual clients to create custom-made packaging solutions that are economic and efficient, as well as environmentally sound. With such a wide range of belting solutions available, new possibilities can be created which not only meet the most stringent regulations of any market, but also establish a conscientious and competitive edge.

Going green: grassroots and beyond

Businesses around the world are rising to the challenge of sustainable marketing strategies. Companies are finding that Millennials are more interested in the experience of a purchase than a brand name, and this is reflected in the product as well as the parcel it comes in.

A grocery store in Berlin, Unpacked, is committed to zero packaging, so that all items are sold loose or in bulk. Customers are invited to bring their own containers or to rent vessels which can be returned on the following visit.

Pangea Organics, a skin and body care company based in Boulder, Colorado, places their products in compostable clamshells made of pulp and embedded with seeds, so that customers can plant the packaging and enjoy a small patch of homegrown basil.

Saltwater Brewery, based in Florida, swapped the plastic rings of a six-pack with a biodegradable and edible holder made from the barley and hops leftover from the beer-brewing process. Not only is it biodegradable, but it is also a healthy snack for fish if it ends up back in the ocean.

Even corporations as large as Coca-Cola are taking initiatives which defy the status quo. The company recently produced a Coke can with a convex logo devoid of the red dye which is usually sprayed onto the aluminium. This small detail reduced the air and water pollution inherent in the colouring process and decreased the energy used to separate the toxic paint from the aluminium in the recycling process. The result was an attractive and chic silver can which appeals to customers and contributes to efforts of conservation.

Habasit is a major player in both the grassroots and commercial commitment to the environment, and each inspiring business innovation is well within our scope of production. Whether transporting products which will be sold in a package-free store, or palletising a more sustainable soda can, Habasit always has simple and cost-effective solutions available.

The importance of evolution

The capacity to adapt and grow has always been a key element to Habasit`s progress in the packaging industry. Developing applications which fit to the aspirations of our customers is the motivation which keeps our engineers on the cutting edge.

In the packaging industry, it is never a matter of one size fits all. With each advance, there are new operation requirements, such as fabricating a custom-made surface or determining how to adapt an appropriate belt cover for a client`s specific needs.

Equipped with knowledge and expertise, Habasit engineers are able to utilise the full scope of our belt products. They range all the way from fabric belts which are ideal for bundling machines to the endless grabber belts for Vertical Form Fill Seal machines, to HabasitLINK® plastic modular belts, often used for shrink wrapping tunnels and palletising, or the varied uses of HabaSYNC® timing belts. Additional adjustments such as grinding, teeth removal, milling grooves, and drilling holes, can all create new possibilities for any application.

Change is in the air

We are all painfully familiar with irresponsible packaging. The rise of e-commerce has only brought the existing reality to the extreme with small products being packed in plastic and put in boxes which are then packaged in larger boxes filled with foam peanuts before being delivered to your home. A recent Swedish calculation showed that lorries carrying e-business goods transported over 100 million liters of air in just one year.

Optimal packaging is possible and Habasit understands that the closer we come to meeting the needs of our customers, the closer we will be to a sustainable and waste-free world. (ST)

For more information about our belting solutions for the packaging industry, visit our booth at Fachpack in Nürnberg, Germany, from Sep. 25th-29th, 2018. www.fachpack.de/en

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