News & Updates Sustainability

Consumers prefer paper packaging, want more packaging return programmes

The Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (Pamsa) enlisted South Africa as one of the 16 countries that participated in this year’s global ‘Trend Tracker Survey’.

The biennial consumer research study, driven by Two Sides, seeks to understand consumer perceptions towards print and paper products, looking specifically at environmental awareness, reading habits, and packaging preferences.

The shift to online shopping has accelerated dramatically in recent years. At the touch of a screen, consumers can search for a product, order and have it delivered to their door, on the same day.

“Consumers have come to appreciate the safety, speed and convenience of buying products online, however many are increasingly concerned about how their goods are packaged and delivered, and how easy it is to recycle materials used,” said Samantha Choles, communications manager for Pamsa.

The global survey questioned more than 10,000 consumers on their preferences and opinions regarding various packaging types, their attributes and their impact.

Some 58% prefer products ordered online to be delivered in paper packaging while 56% are actively taking steps to increase their use of paper packaging.

“Paper’s environmental credentials stack up especially in terms of recyclability and renewability. Of course, paper remains a versatile, beautiful material and adds to the tactile experience for the consumer,” noted Choles.

Packaging plays an important part in the purchasing decision from displaying vital product information to protecting its contents. Consumers were asked to rate various packaging materials – paper/cardboard, plastic, glass and metal – against 15 environmental, visual and physical attributes.

In 10 of the 15 attributes presented, paper/cardboard scored the highest among South African consumers: better for environment (55%), less expensive (56%), home compostable (65%), lighter weight (50%), safer to use (47%), easier to recycle (42%), easier to open/close (44%), better information about the product (39%), easier to store (32%) and more practical (36%).

A significant 77% of South African consumers said they would actively support retailers who offer a packaging return system while 60% would buy more from retailers who remove plastic from their packaging. Just more than half of consumers would consider avoiding a retailer that is not actively trying to reduce their use of non-recyclable packaging.

South African consumers are demanding that retailers do more to ensure their packaging is widely recyclable, and 42% believe that paper-based packaging is easier to recycle than other materials.

Recycling data reflects this belief to a certain extent: in South Africa, just less than 61% of paper and paper packaging (1.25 million tonnes) was recycled in 2022. Metal packaging has the highest recycling rate of 76%, while glass is 44% with the recovery of various plastics trailing at 43%.

A large proportion of consumers (80%) prefer products ordered online to be delivered in appropriately sized packaging to reduce waste, with 58% preferring paper packaging for online orders.

Consumers want government to do more about single use, non-recyclable packaging

Consumers were asked to rank who they believe has the most responsibility for reducing the use of non-recyclable single-use packaging:

  • 36% believe that governments and local authorities carry most responsibility in this area.
  • A quarter of the respondents feel that individuals should take responsibility through their personal choices.
  • 18% believe packaging manufacturers, brands and producers should be the leaders.
  • Only 4% felt that retailers and supermarkets carried the most responsibility.

More than 60% of respondents agreed that non-recyclable packaging should be discouraged through taxation. South Africa’s extended producer responsibility (EPR) regulations, gazetted in 2021, has seen a levy imposed on a variety of packaging materials. EPR seeks to drive more circular and sustainable supply chains by designing packaging for better recycling and thus reducing the volumes that go to landfill.

“South Africa has some good examples of brands leading the way, especially with packaging design and substitution, and ensuring local recyclability, while also being fit-for-purpose and safe for food contact,” says Choles.

Paper regains its place on the supermarket shelf

At Pamsa’s roundtable in July, Don MacFarlane, packaging senior at Woolworths, explained how paper and board are no longer just used for shipment or tertiary packaging. MacFarlane noted that trends show a move back to cartonboard or paper packaging from multilayer plastic flexibles for products like washing powder.

Along with the switch to paperboard punnets for fruit and vegetables, engineered paper is increasingly being used as primary packaging for dry goods, confectionery, and snacks, with an example being Nestlé Smarties.

Choles echoed, “For the circular economy to work, each of us has a role to play – starting with designing products or packaging for recycling or re-use, through to responsible disposal and separation-at-source by individuals in households, schools or offices. Closing the loop can be further enabled by retailers and businesses who implement convenient collection programmes or employ reverse logistics.”

Checkers’ Sixty60’s paper grocery bag return programme is a great example of this. The first to use paper bags for online delivery, Sixty60 also enables customers to send their used bags back with the driver.


News & Updates

Budweiser launches new ‘lightest aluminium can’ as Bud light boycott begins to lose steam

CHINA – Budweiser Brewing Company APAC, the largest and fastest-growing beer company in Asia Pacific has launched a new ‘lightest aluminium can’ for beer in China.

Part of world’s largest brewing company AB InBev, the company produces, imports, markets, distributes over 50 brands including Budweiser, Stella Artois, Corona, Hoegaarden, Cass, and Harbin.

The ‘lightest aluminium can’ was launched during the company’s circular packaging forum for its value chain partners at Putian Brewery, Fujian province, China.

The 330ml can weighs 9.57g and is 4% lighter than the industry average. The average carbon footprint per can is 185 g, nearly 100 g more lightweight than the 2017 baseline.

The launch reinforces Bud APAC’s circular packaging approach which has thus far helped to reduce more than 40,000 tons of carbon emission, compared to 2017 baseline, through continuous efforts, with carbon emission per can down by over 30%.UPCOMING EVENTAfrica Fresh Produce Expo 2024

The fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices industry is one of the key drivers of nutritional and economic development in Africa. Join over 5,000 stakeholders at the upcoming Africa Fresh Produce Expo in Nairobi, Kenya in 2024, as we bring together leading producers, suppliers of new technologies, industry experts, government agencies and more. Click HERE for details . . .

The beer company reduced the use of packaging materials by 8,473 tons, with 63.2% of its total packaging volume being in returnable packaging and 51.3% of the primary packaging material made from recycled content.

Jan Clysner, vice president of Sustainability & Procurement of Bud APAC, said, “As the largest brewer in the region, we are fully committed to enhancing our efforts in promoting circularity to mitigate our impact on the climate and environment while empowering our value chain partners to reduce their carbon emissions.”

The launch comes in time when Bud APAC is actively addressing the challenges of aluminium can same-grade recycling by introducing can-to-can recycling, a closed loop solution for used beverage cans.

Bud is also fostering carbon reduction transformation among its upstream partners through various initiatives.

Bud light showing steady improvement

Meanwhile, Bud light brand is showing steady improvement and moving in the right direction according to a report by AB InBev’s CEO Michel Doukeris.

Doukeris attributed the steady improvement by the brand to drinker’s willingness to buy the brand again.

“Considering the steady improvement and what we found on our latest research, that over 40% of lapsed Bud Light buyers declared that they are now ready to come back [and are] open to drink Bud Light again, this gives us some certainty that we are moving in the right direction,” said Doukeris.

AB InBev recorded a 17.1% decline in volumes on an organic basis and a 12.7% decline in third quarter revenue to US$3.86bn.

Meanwhile, Bud light and UFC, world’s premier mixed martial arts organization, have announced a new multiyear marketing partnership that will see the brewer becoming the official beer partner of UFC.


News & Updates

Thanks to KHS technology: Cervejas de Moçambique realizes a returnable glass line in Africa

Using high-tech from KHS, AB InBev subsidiary Cervejas de Moçambique has now built the most modern brewery in Africa. The heart of the system is what the customer claims to be the fastest returnable glass line on the continent.

In large swathes of Africa beer has long been made from local crop cassava. Home-brewed, it takes on a variety of forms, usually cloudy, without any foam to speak of and with a chunky consistency – almost like liquid muesli and by no means to everyone’s taste.

The first brewery to have risen to the challenge of making a drinkable beer from the plant also known as manioc or yuca is Cervejas de Moçambique or CDM. In 2011 the company launched one of the first commercial cassava beers in Africa to market under the brand name of Impala.

70% of the starch used comes from the root vegetable instead of from wheat or barley malt. A long development phase ultimately produces a beverage that is yellow and fruity and slightly cloudy in the glass. With its white head of foam it looks like a normal lager and has a surprisingly refreshing taste.

Impala has proved a roaring success for CDM in a number of respects: by procuring local ingredients, the brewery secures the livelihood of small farmers in the region and creates lots of jobs in agriculture.

The state honors this commitment – as it does the fact that the beer produced is a professional substitute for the harmful own brews concocted by its citizens. Thanks to a lower tax rate, the new beer can be sold for about 30% less than the usual price.

With more than a million bottles sold per annum, this has helped to make Impala a huge success – one that has long been emulated in a number of other African countries and by various breweries.

In addition to showing innovative spirit, CDM also sets great store by tradition. Privatized in 2005 during the restructure of the market economy in a country previously under socialist rule, the company now unites all of Mozambique’s established beer brands in its portfolio.

This primarily includes 2M brewed since 1950, the name of which is reminiscent of French president Patrice de MacMahon. In 1875 he acted as mediator in the conflict between Portugal and England over what is now the capital Maputo and is accordingly admired in this Southwest African country.

Laurentina, the first beer ever brewed in Mozambique in 1932 – and still a regular award-winner – is another running favorite.

With a turnover of around €300 million (in 2021), the brewery now largely owned by the AB InBev Group is by far the largest local beer producer and market leader.

New site with potential

This status has been earned by CDM’s consistent strategy of growth and continuous increase in capacity.

Not so long ago in 2010 a third factory was opened in Nampula in the north of the country in addition to the existing facilities in the capital Maputo and Beira further north up the coast.

Just eight years later the foundations were laid for a further greenfield project in Marracuene a few kilometers outside Maputo. Here, production started up with a capacity of 1.6 million hectoliters a year.

In view of the fast-growing population and increasing demand for high-quality beer, this rapid development has not yet come to an end, however; the production site has been designed in such a way that it can be easily expanded over the coming years to cope with a capacity of six million hectoliters.

The heart of the new location is a returnable glass line from KHS, on which up to 80,000 550-milliliter bottles per hour can be filled – the format that accounts for about 95% of total sales.

This line capacity is extremely high for the African continent, explains Tobias Zeimentz, who as key account manager at KHS is responsible for customer AB InBev the world over. “In this region it’s rare to find more than 40,000 bottles per hour being processed.”

International KHS network

CDM was in a hurry to get its new plant finished. In order to meet the ambitious schedule and supply the various components as quickly as possible, KHS called on its international network.

The conveyors thus came from Mexico and the sedimentation tanks from South Africa. The line was to be installed by engineers from Ukraine, Turkey, Mexico and Germany.

KHS colleagues from Brazil were then to train personnel on the new machinery as they can communicate with the Mozambicans in their mother tongue Portuguese without any loss of communication.

Already at the offer stage the teamwork was excellent: the necessary internal and external coordination processes were triggered in good time and everyone was confident that the formidable timeline could be kept to.

Things did not quite turn out as expected, however.

In March 2019 the country was hit by Intense Tropical Cyclone Idai that inflicted heavy damage; over 1,000 people died and almost a million were made homeless.

According to estimates by the World Bank, the devastation in Mozambique and the less severely affected neighboring countries of Zimbabwe and Malawi totaled about €1.7 billion in cost.

The region close to the capital was also impacted by this natural catastrophe, resulting in delays to the CDM schedule. The production shop could not be finished on time to accommodate the machines ready for installation.

KHS reacted spontaneously and flexibly by making partial deliveries wherever possible. Installation then started in October 2019, although much of the production shop was still little more than a shell.

From this point forward, however, all of the deadlines could be met and all those involved were happy. Everybody ultimately had every reason to celebrate when in February 2020 the first bottle was filled on the line.

Impact of corona lockdown

This happy state of affairs did not last long, however.

Within just a few weeks, Covid-19 mushroomed into a global pandemic. Those countries affected went into lockdown, flights were canceled and travel became practically impossible.

Within the space of a day, Mozambique announced it was closing its borders and there were suddenly no more flights to the airport in Maputo. “Our team literally had no other choice but to flee the country,” Zeimentz remembers.

“So that they didn’t end up being stranded for an indefinite period, our colleagues immediately embarked on their in some cases difficult homeward journey while nevertheless observing their duty of care. At this point, line optimization was only three-quarters finished and we still had two months’ work ahead of us.” Despite this, the decision was the right one to make in the interests of personnel: half a year passed before travel was again possible.

The project needed to continue on site, however, as Frank Schepping, technical director at CDM, emphasizes. “Our local team in Marracuene now faced the challenge of commissioning this 80,000-bph line through online meetings, phone and video calls and KHS’ remote maintenance service ReDiS without there having been any advance training,” he says.

“This of course initially turned our ramp-up plan on its head. With lots of hard work, overtime and a few sleepless nights, however, we finally managed to ramp our most important format, the 550-milliliter bottle, up to capacity so that we were able to supply local consumers with our beer.”

At the end of the day, everyone is really happy to have kept the system up and running. “A shutdown lasting several months would naturally have been a disaster,” Zeimentz confirms.

This shortfall in production was compounded on the marketing side of things by the government limiting the sale of alcohol to certain business hours and imposing curfews in the spring of 2020 – with a noticeable effect on beer consumption and CDM’s business.

Despite this, the brewery did not allow itself to become disheartened by the temporary slump and instead launched the 2M Flow product during this period. It was an immediate hit and has continued to enjoy great popularity ever since.

Finally fit for acceptance

It was not until September 2020 that most KHS colleagues were able to return under sometimes still difficult conditions to complete their work.

A full audit was first held before the system was successively readied for acceptance with overhauls, maintenance and cleaning – all taking the demands of ongoing production into account. The pandemic also was not over, evident in the number of infections that sporadically broke out on all sides despite the strictest safety precautions being taken, these in turn causing further delays.

Finally, in summer 2021 the plant officially went into operation after a five-day performance test that was successfully passed with a line efficiency of over 95%.

Besides the two modular KHS labelers – incidentally a first for AB InBev – the two Innofill Glass DPG ECO fillers proved especially convincing: with extremely low TPO1 pickup values of 19 micrograms per liter and a low CO2 consumption of just 150 grams per hectoliter, they underline KHS’ status as the first choice for filling technology.

Following an investment of about €150 million the “biggest and most modern brewery in Mozambique and the whole of Africa”, as CDM CEO Tomaz Salomao puts it, could finally be ceremoniously opened.

Judging by the great pleasure expressed in the smooth operation of the new filling line, the unforeseeable hurdles that had to be overcome before this goal could be reached now seem to (almost) have been forgotten.

Versatile and flexible: modular labeler

At CDM in Mozambique AB InBev has had two modular KHS labelers installed for the first time the world over. The machines can be equipped with various stations that are changed over within a very short time indeed as they are easily docked and undocked using a lifting truck.

This flexibility gives CDM greater future security, enabling it to react quickly and easily to new trends and dynamic market developments.

Impressive performance figures of just 0.054% faulty labels and an efficiency of over 99% prove doubly convincing when it comes to the high quality of KHS labeling technology.


News & Updates Sustainability

Sustainability Milestone: Amazon introduces 100% recyclable delivery packaging in Europe

EUROPE – E-commerce giant Amazon has unveiled that its entire European fulfilment network now exclusively employs 100% recyclable packaging for all customer orders.

This initiative encompasses items sold by Amazon itself and those of its third-party selling partners affiliated with Fulfilment by Amazon.

Customers throughout Europe will now receive their orders in flexible paper bags, cardboard envelopes, or corrugated cardboard boxes, all devoid of any additional packaging. These materials are easily recyclable through household recycling streams after use.

Amazon has collaborated with vendors across Europe to ensure that a maximum number of its products are delivered in their ‘easy-to-open original packaging.’

Moreover, this recyclable packaging can be shipped directly to customers with an address label, eliminating the need for additional Amazon packaging.

In instances where extra packaging is still necessary, Amazon endeavors to use lighter and appropriately sized packaging. This strategy ensures secure delivery while minimizing the carbon footprint and waste generation.

Pat Lindner, Amazon’s Vice President of Sustainable Packaging and Mechatronics, expressed enthusiasm, stating, “We are thrilled that our European fulfilment network has transitioned to recyclable packaging for customer orders.

“This move is part of our ongoing commitment to sustainability. We will continue investing in innovative technology, machine learning, and sustainable materials to ensure packaging—whether used by us or others—is beneficial for our customers, communities, and the planet.”

Over the past year, Amazon has escalated the number of products shipped without additional packaging to over 50% in Europe.

By combining various initiatives, the company estimates that it has prevented the use and circulation of more than ‘one billion single-use plastic delivery bags’ across its European distribution network since 2019.

Additionally, Amazon is currently experimenting with diverse new technologies and innovations in Europe to further enhance the sustainability of its packaging.

These initiatives encompass paper-made padded envelopes, reusable delivery bags, and incentivizing selling partners to minimize their packaging.

The company has also introduced new automated packing technology to reduce packaging requirements for a wide array of everyday items.

Back in May 2022, nearly 49% of Amazon’s shares voted in favour of the retailer addressing its use of plastics at its Annual General Meeting, according to Oceana.

This was accompanied by a report suggesting that Amazon had generated around 709 million pounds of plastic waste through e-commerce sales in 2021, exceeding its 2020 estimate of 599 million pounds by 18%.

Since then, the company has made a number of announcements related to changes within its packaging portfolio – such as trialing automated packaging machines for on-demand, made-to-measure paper bags that seek to cut down on pack volume and weight, and encouraging brands to deliver items in their original packaging, negating the need for extra packaging during delivery.


News & Updates

Bad food choices: clearer labels aim to help South Africans pick healthier options

South Africans have a hard time figuring out which foods are unhealthy when they go shopping. But this is about to change.

South African supermarkets currently sell large amounts of unhealthy, ultra-processed foods. Packaged foods in particular have high levels of sugar, salt and saturated fat – all things that are bad for our health.

Research shows that the consumption of these foods is linked to increasing rates of obesity and related diseases such as diabetes.

Many countries have been looking for better labelling systems which help consumers understand whether a product is unhealthy. Countries that have adopted simpler labelling systems have seen consumers making healthier choices about food.

South Africa’s health minister published draft food labelling regulations in April. These will introduce a new labelling scheme, limit advertising of unhealthy foods, and restrict the use of misleading health claims.

The draft regulations propose clearer food labels, which include a new triangle highlighting that the food contains ingredients that are unhealthy. These logos will be placed on the front of a product.

We are part of the working group that advised the Department of Health on front-of-package nutrition labelling, drawing on our expertise in dietetics, nutrition, public health and the law.

We worked with consumers and experts on food labelling, advertising and obesity prevention to create a system designed to work well in South Africa.

But it was a complicated process. This is how we did it.

How do we know which food is unhealthy?

The first step is to find a way to identify unhealthy foods. There are international guidelines on how much sugar, salt and saturated fat people should be eating. These can be used to measure whether a food has too much of these ingredients.

Figuring out whether a food is unhealthy can be tricky, but luckily, other countries around the world have adopted systems like this before, known as nutrient profile models, and we could build on what they had already done.

We looked at what foods were being sold in South African supermarkets. We searched for nutrient profiling models that identify unhealthy foods and work well in other countries and tested these on the South African food supply.

We found that the Chilean model, which focuses only on unhealthy ingredients, sugar, sodium and saturated fat, would work well because it was simple to implement and was able to identify unhealthy products very easily and accurately.

We then modified the Chilean model to make it work for South Africa.

Choosing the right label

The next thing to decide was what kind of label South Africa should use. There are lots of different systems but not all work well.

One uses colour coding. For example, a low level of salt would get a green marker while high sugar would get a red one.

There are also descriptive labels which don’t tell consumers whether the amounts are good or bad – just whether they are present.

Then there are warning labels, often shaped like traffic signs, to alert consumers to the high levels of unhealthy ingredients such as saturated fat, sugar and salt.

We looked at how to design a label that would be understandable to the average South African. We consulted South Africans on each element of the label, from the wording and size to the symbols and colour.

We developed a black triangle – inspired by a danger warning sign – which would stand out on colourful food packages and included pictures so that anyone, even those who can’t read or speak English, would be able to understand them.

The last part of this work was a nationally representative randomised, control trial of different labelling systems. Almost 2,000 people across different income groups and education levels participated.

We also found that the warning labels led to consumers changing their minds about what food they would consider buying.

Earlier this year, South Africans had the opportunity to give comments on the regulations that will see this labelling system implemented. Now it’s up to the department to decide when and how to put these regulations into action.

Hopefully soon all South Africans will be able to see at a glance which foods are bad for their health.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


News & Updates

Nestle supports Impact Recycling’s vision for a circular economy with US$8.6M loan

UK – Nestlé UK & Ireland, a prominent food and beverage company, has pledged a £7 million (US$8.6m) loan to Impact Recycling, aimed at expediting the advancement of its “pioneering” technology.

This investment from Nestlé is intended to accelerate Impact’s technology development processes.

The funding will facilitate the implementation of the Baffled Oscillation Separation System (BOSS), an innovative technology designed by Impact.

BOSS will be integrated into Impact’s upcoming plastic recycling facility, scheduled to commence operations in Durham, England, by mid-2024. This facility in Newcastle will have a processing capacity of 25,000 tonnes.

The BOSS system operates by spinning waste plastics in water, enabling the separation of materials based on their density; materials either sink or float accordingly.

This technique efficiently identifies recyclable materials, particularly hard-to-recycle flexible plastics commonly used in food packaging, and processes them into pellets.

Nestlé specified that packaging items such as KitKat wrappers, Purina pet food pouches, Rowntree confectionery sharing bags, and Nestlé Cereal bags will be collected from major supermarket collection points for recycling at the Newcastle site.

Sokhna Gueye, Head of Packaging at Nestlé UK & Ireland, expressed, “At Nestlé, we are dedicated to ensuring our packaging can have multiple lives and doesn’t end up as waste in landfill.

“Supporting innovative technologies like this is just one of the many steps we are taking towards ensuring our packaging can have multiple lives and doesn’t end up as waste in landfill.”

Nestlé aims to design nearly 100% of its packaging for recycling by 2025 in the UK and Ireland, working toward making all packaging recyclable or reusable.

The recycled pellets from this process can be utilized to manufacture various flexible products, including post and refuse bags, potentially replacing virgin plastic films in construction and agriculture.

Impact Recycling’s CEO, David Walsh, stated, “We are delighted to partner with Nestlé on this initiative to develop a 25,000-tonne commercial recycling plant for post-consumer flexible plastic.

“Through this funding, Nestlé demonstrates its unwavering commitment to innovation and the pursuit of sustainable solutions for plastic packaging.”

Previously, Impact Recycling received £4.1 million (US$5.11m) from the government-funded UK Research and Innovation and £2 million (US$2.49m) from private investment consultancy firm IW Capital.

The company also participated in Project Beacon, collaborating with PI Polymer Recycling and Recycling Technologies to chemically recycle plastics for new material or other chemical products.