News & Updates

rPET tray made entirely from recycled trays revealed by Klöckner Pentaplast

Klöckner Pentaplast (kp) has released what is claimed to be the first food packaging tray composed entirely of recycled tray material, utilizing its Tray2Tray closed-loop initiative to recover PET waste.

Tray2Tray involves the recovery of used food trays, which are then recycled back into more food trays. Through this system, kp aspires to establish a closed loop of ‘safe, protective, fully recyclable’ food packaging – and, by the end of 2025, ensure that at least 30% of recycled material in its packaging will be sourced from Tray2Tray.

As opposed to other food packaging trays that utilize recovered PET material, kp reports that its newly launched tray constitutes 100% rPET derived only from other trays. It is recommendedas a solution for businesses looking to advance their ESG strategies and control costs regarding eco-taxes and plastic tax legislation.

According to kp, its supply chain is RecyClass certified, confirming the safety, quality, and traceability of its PCR packaging solutions. Its 100% rPET tray intends to align with its ‘packaging with integrity’ ethos, as well as its goal to establish a ‘more sustainable’ packaging industry without undermining quality or safety.

Thomas Kure Jakobsen, president of Food Packaging at kp, commented: “As a bold innovator, we are thrilled to introduce the first-ever 100% rPET tray to the market.

“This achievement is a major breakthrough in the packaging industry, and perfectly demonstrates what is possible with the right combination of expertise and technology. Most rPET in the material loop comes from plastic bottles, of which just 30% goes into food packaging trays, and most of this does not end up being recovered. As a result, countless tonnes of rPET tray material are wasted each year.

“kp Tray2Tray challenges this by creating a robust closed loop system of PET flake from trays. We work with suppliers to create a separate supply stream of recycled PET from trays, which can be used to create more of the same, rather than being downcycled.”

“We’re not just looking to move the needle on plastic tray sustainability; we’re aiming to begin the next era. One of the biggest advantages of partnering with kp and using kp Tray2Tray content is that it’s a perfect ‘drop in’ solution, so switching over is easy, and packaging performance isn’t compromised.

“Our 100% kp Tray2Tray packaging is a real, workable tray that offers a glimpse into the future of tray packaging circularity.”

Other developments from kp include kp Elite, its certified recyclable modified atmosphere packaging tray made entirely of rPET. In tandem with the Tray2Tray initiative, kp hopes that it can help reduce waste and establish a closed-loop packaging system for protein products.

Moy Park recently adopted kp Elite to package its poultry range. In doing so, the company has targeted a 50-tonne reduction in plastic consumption and a transition into completely mono-material packaging.

Meanwhile, last year’s partnership between Indorama Ventures and AMB Spa sought to keep 150 million post-consumer PET trays out of landfill and incineration by recycling them into films, which would then be applied back to food packaging trays.


News & Updates

Walkers targets virgin plastic reduction with new paper outer bags

Walkers has announced the rollout of new paper outer bags for all Snack A Jacks multipacks, set to reduce the brand’s use of virgin plastic by 65 tonnes per year. 

The new packaging format will be available in the next month across Snack A Jacks’ Salt & Vinegar, Sour Cream & Chive and BBQ flavours. Apparently, the outer paper bag can be widely recycled in home recycling bins, collected at kerbside alongside other paper packaging, and is set to lower the greenhouse gas emissions of each pack by 52%. 

This latest move forms part of PepsiCo Positive, the health and sustainability transformation plan from Walkers’ parent company, which includes an ambition of reaching net zero emissions by 2040. It follows the introduction of the format for all Walkers Baked multipacks last year. 

Across PepsiCo Europe, the company also plans to eliminate fossil-based plastic in crisp and snack bags by 2030. This ambition applies to UK brands including Snack A Jacks, Walkers, Doritos, Quavers, Wotsits, and Pipers, and will be delivered by using 100% recycled or renewable content. 

UK packaging sustainability lead at PepsiCo, Gareth Callan, said: “Our outer paper multibag packs are working well on Walkers Baked, giving us the confidence to roll out this format across more of our snacks brands. The new packaging will help further reduce our non-fossil plastic use, while also helping to lower our carbon footprint as we work towards our commitment to creating a world where packaging never becomes waste.” 

Last year, PepsiCo released paperboard wraps and clips for its beverages across the US and Canada, hoping to eliminate plastic rings in its multipacks by rolling out ‘recyclable’ paper-based alternatives. The development is expected to cut millions of pounds of plastics from PepsiCo’s North American packaging. 

More recently, Quaker Oats announced its transition to paper packaging across its porridge put range, aiming to streamline recyclability and remove a yearly estimate of up to 200 tonnes of plastic. It is hoped the new packaging will cut down on virgin plastic use in porridge pots sold across the UK, with Quaker Oats thought to constitute up to 47% of the country’s porridge pot market. 


News & Updates

What’s next for paper-based bottles?

Earlier this month, Paboco made an important announcement regarding its paper-based bottle products. The company has launched full-scale production and is aspiring to produce over 20 million fibre-based bottles by the end of 2025. Paboco’s CEO, Tim Silbermann, tells us more about this news, as well as shedding more light on the company’s recent acquisition by ALPLA, in our latest interview feature.

We’ve been reporting on Paboco’s solutions for a while now, across multiple different iterations and projects. But, for readers who may have missed that, could you give us some background on the history of Paboco from its inception up until now?

Sure. Paboco was founded in 2019 out of the startup ecoXpac by ALPLA and, back then, BillerudKorsnäs (now Billerud). At the same time, we created the Pioneer Community, which was the coming-together of five big consumer brands to develop the paper bottle with us across multiple generations.

We continued with developing the ‘Generation 1 bottle’ (machines, processes, barrier applications, et cetera) and the pioneers put those bottles on the market and created consumer learnings on how the bottle behaved during processes such as filling and logistics.

But, following the vision of Paboco, we continued with intense focus on reducing the amount of barrier needed – which meant developing new technology (again). Following 18 months of development, with the onset of the next generation and new machines to manufacture at a larger scale, we are ready.

Let’s discuss this latest update now – could you give us an overview of the full-scale production launch?

With this launch, we mark the next phase of Paboco. We will move into a new site, establish new machines, upscale our process and launch the next generation paper bottle. We continue to work with our leading pioneers, but we are also looking for other brands to join us on this.

We are going to meet the demand for establishing additional lines over the next years and grow even more from there.

This step resolves around the next generation of the paper bottle. We announced the first bottle in 2022 as a prototype, but it took us the last year to properly establish our process, get machines up and running, and validate the product.

What is the overall carbon impact of this latest solution? How is this measured, and how does its impact compare with PET bottles?

We conducted an LCA study at the end of 2022 together with the Implement Consulting Group to benchmark our next generation bottle against other packaging solutions. The LCA was conducted according to ISO standards.

The other packaging solutions are averages from other available LCA studies. In comparison, our solution (the scaled version) already looks very good, when you remember that the technology is just a couple of years old now.

We are already very close in comparison to a plastic bottle, and outperform it when biogenic carbon uptake is considered. This is done on our own bottle and design, so this needs to be looked at and calculated for every new use case, of course.

Whenever we share updates regarding Paboco, some of our readers comment their belief that your solutions are merely plastic bottles with paper sleeves. How would you respond to this, and could you give us an update on the company’s goal of creating a 100% biobased bottle? How far away is it?

We were always very transparent about the status/generation of packaging solution we are in right now. For generation 1, yes – the plastic liner was quite significant in weight. Could such a thin liner have worked without the paper shell around it? No – the paper bottle was always the carrier of strength and rigidity, that’s why we could reduce the plastic content in the first place.

But this was our first step in proving large parts of our process and scalability – basically from handmade to automated pilot production. Now we take the next step in reducing the barrier content even more, and what’s left is a thin fill on the bottle inside.

Our technology allows us to use multiple materials, so biobased materials for the barrier will be an option in the near future. Additionally, we always strive to reduce barrier needs as much as possible. Depending on the use case, we want to be as resource-conscious as possible.

Late last year we reported on ALPLA becoming the principal stakeholder in Paboco. What does this mean for the company, and how does Paboco fit into ALPLA’s overall strategy?

First and foremost, this means a commitment to Paboco’s journey and plans for the future. We are happy that ALPLA sees the continuous value of the Paboco technology and product, and has trust in the Paboco team here in Denmark.

ALPLA’s strategy is to provide sustainable packaging solutions worldwide – a paper bottle fits into this purpose nicely. With ALPLA’s help, we can now accelerate to get volumes to the market.

Why did Billerud decide to sell its majority stake in Paboco? Does the fact that your company’s shift in majority ownership from Billerud (which mostly produces pulp and paper packaging) to ALPLA (which mostly produces plastics) change anything about its direction?

This was a strategic decision from Billerud’s side, focusing more on their core business. And the switch here does not mean a change in Paboco’s direction and trajectory, as said before. The paper bottle is a valuable addition to the packaging market as a whole.


News & Updates Sustainability

Moving the needle on reuseable packaging

If the packaging industry wants to make reusable packaging systems more mainstream and widely used, boosting efficiency is key. One company aiming to facilitate this is Sykell, whose ‘Circular ERP’ product has been designed to revolutionise how companies manage and judge the performance of reuse projects. We spoke with the company’s co-founder, Michael Kappler, to learn more.

I think it’d be good to start with some context: What is Sykell’s Circular ERP?

The CIRCULAR ERP offers an Operating System to companies in the circular economy to efficiently manage their inventories of reusable assets. Sykell has developed a reusable packaging system that enables retailers and partners in the food, beverage, cosmetic and drugstore sectors to shift from disposable to reusable packaging and towards a circular economy.

In addition to the primary functionalities of an ERP solution, including clearing and deposit processing, CIRCULAR ERP also unlocks synergies within return logistics and washing.

How does it work in practice? Please take us through each step of the process.

The CIRCULAR ERP accompanies an asset from production, through usage, washing and deposit clearing to the end of life. All operationally relevant product components are rounded off by comprehensive analysis tools and data processing to create detailed LCAs and sustainability reports.

1. Production & Procurement Whether straight from production or supplied by a producer, the system enables quick, effortless creation or import of all essential asset information.

2. Assets & Inventory Maintaining complete visibility over the asset portfolio. The system enhances the capacity for precise demand planning and forecasting.

3. Orders & Logistics Tackling the increasing complexity of order management and logistics optimization as user’s systems expand. The CIRCULAR ERP automates all these processes so users can focus on their operations.

4. Clearing & Deposits The system is engineered to provide unparalleled transparency in handling intricate deposit setups across various partners within the clearing process. Tracking all deposit operations down to the individual asset or by quantity.

5. Financials & Analytics Generating comprehensive financial reports and maintaining audit-ready data and usage history with ease. The dashboard provides a quick overview of crucial KPIs, ensuring users are always informed in their daily operations.

6. Sustainability & LCA Creating sustainability reports based on real-time insights and using them as starter or additional data for life cycle assessments (LCA).

You’ve already collaborated on three use-case projects: Please could you tell us more about some of these?

In addition to the advantages such as efficiency and transparency for the system partners, we also support service providers along the sometimes individual cycles to connect to the CIRCULAR ERP (e.g. via API) and providing all system partners in real-time the tracking status, clearing information and updates about the asset conditions.

Using the CIRCULAR ERP solution, Sykell successfully operates its own reusable system with more than 2 million reusable assets all over Germany: EINFACH MEHRWEG. The reusable packaging system, which has been awarded the Blauer Engel (Blue Angel) ecolabel, has been embraced by consumers thanks to its ease of use and convenient returns via reverse vending machines, which makes returning used containers and cups as easy as returning deposit bottles.

Sykell has a nationwide network (ca. 7.500) of EINFACH MEHRWEG system partners, including major food retailers, petrol stations and restaurants. The asset portfolio includes different containers for take-away food and pre-packaged foods as well as various cups for hot and cold drinks.

Zerooo is a reusable system for cosmetics and drugstores. Parallel to the successful piloting of care and cleaning products under its own SEA ME brand in the reusable deposit system, SEA ME GmbH began in 2021 to set up the infrastructure for the return, cleaning and refilling of the specially developed reusable containers.

From January 2024 reusable containers from the zerooo system will be available in more than 900 stores and the empties can be returned. With new, innovative reusable packaging solutions, more retail partners, more product categories and more sustainable brands in the system, SEA ME GmbH is expanding the reusable system as a transparent, resource-saving and low-emission alternative to the standard disposable system.

What is the carbon impact of these projects, and how is this calculated?

The carbon impact of the CIRCULAR ERP can be calculated based on various factors, because the software facilitates other companies to implement, manage, and operate their reusable assets efficiently. Primarily, the CIRCULAR ERP enables the reduction in single-use packaging through external companies, which indirectly leads to a decrease in waste generation and directly contributes to carbon emissions reduction.

This is assessed by comparing the carbon footprint of single-use packaging, including production, transportation and disposal with that of reusable packaging over its lifecycle, including production, transportation, return logistics, washing and disposal. Moreover, the efficiency gains in logistics and transportation, enabled by streamlining processes through the CIRCULAR ERP, result in reduced fuel consumption and emissions.

By optimizing routes for return logistics and minimizing empty trips, the carbon impact of transportation is mitigated. Integrating more projects and reusable packaging into the CIRCULAR ERP besides our own reusable system EINFACH MEHRWEG like zerooo and dotch, enhances operational efficiency and reduces the environmental footprint of their products. As mentioned above, the carbon footprint and impact of the reusable packaging are calculated by conducting a comparative life cycle assessment (LCA).

Ideally, the LCA is conducted according to the ISO 14040/ISO 14044 standard to ensure standardized and accurate results. (Additionally, the results of a comparative LCA are subject to third-party verification. It is also possible to conduct a simplified LCA not following those standards, but transparent communication of the calculation method is essential.)

To understand the carbon impact of the reusable packaging, it is necessary to select a single-use alternative utilized in the same use case, as well as a number of reuses or uses of the packaging to create a realistic comparison of the life cycle stages.

A comparative life cycle assessment and its third-party verification are in execution for all EINFACH MEHRWEG products according to the LCA Standard ISO 14040/ISO 14044. The life cycle impacts for all EINFACH MEHRWEG products, as well as its single-use alternatives, are calculated, such as climate change, water consumption, and material consumption.

The results show the emissions, water, and waste saved when reusing an EINFACH MEHRWEG packaging 50 times compared to the usage of 50 single-use packaging. Additionally, the break-even point is calculated for each impact category to determine the number of circulations and reuses required for an EINFACH MEHRWEG packaging to outperform single-use packaging across various impact categories, thereby resulting in a lower environmental impact.

In terms of the whole value chain, as well as legislators and regulators, what can be done to make reusable packaging systems more widespread?

We see different efforts on the part of national legislation and the EU to decide on the right framework for the use of reusables. Unfortunately, this currently mostly fails due to different interests and measures taken by the disposable lobby. But the implementation or obligation to offer reusable products does not necessarily mean a visible change.

In Germany, for example, the urgently needed control measures have been lacking since the obligation to offer was introduced on January 1, 2023. Unfortunately, this is usually due to the fact that no authority simply feels responsible or that authorities are understaffed.

In addition to the legal framework, the success of reusable reusables is, above all, acceptance, both externally and internally. Externally means the consumer, who must be convinced in particular by a high level of convenience and quality.

From simply borrowing hygienically perfect containers to adequate deposit amounts and return options suitable for everyday use, for example the approach of cross-system and cross-location returns (“return anywhere”).

At the same time, internal acceptance also plays a major role. This refers to all employees who are involved in the cycle or who have direct customer contact as ambassadors for reusables. Here too, processes must be designed to be simple. This is the only way to actively offer the customer a reusable alternative.


News & Updates

Ecover launches laundry capsules using upcycled material & recycled packaging

Washing and cleaning product brand Ecover has launched laundry capsules using upcycled rose petals and 90% recycled cardboard.

Utilising upcycled rose petals and apricots, giving a second life to the by-products of these materials that would otherwise be discarded as waste to create two new laundry fragrances.

The capsules are also the first Ecover product to be CarbonNeutral certified, excluding product use phase, in line with The CarbonNeutral Protocol.

Ecover’s Laundry Capsules come in packaging made from 90% recycled FSC-certified cardboard.

The capsule packaging format means users don’t have to worry about overdosing laundry detergent, reducing product wastage.

An Ecover spokesperson said: “Adding a product that is CarbonNeutral certified, excluding product use phase, by Climate Impact Partners is an important milestone on our journey of continuing to reduce our impact on the planet and offer consumers alternative cleaning options.”


News & Updates

SoreThumbStudio designs packs for Surya Foods’ Trophi Greek food range

SoreThumbStudio has worked with Surya Foods to create the brand identity and packaging suite for Trophi Greek food range.

The design brief was to build ‘consistent brand architecture’ across different packs formats and sizes, and a strong design language that would be instantly recognisable throughout a segmented customer experience, making it easier to shop across different supermarket departments.

SoreThumbStudio ensured the food images were centre stage, taking up at least half of the pack front and looked super appetising.

Taking inspiration from the abundance and eclecticism of mezze style dining, all the Trophi food photography is shot from a birds-eye view and all the crockery, cutlery and other props used were consciously rustic and different.


News & Updates

Cox & Co claims first flow wrap chocolate paper packaging

Single origin chocolate brand Cox & Co says it has created the first ever paper flow wrap chocolate packaging.

This will allow the brand to phase out all plastics and give consumers a kerbside recyclable wrapping.

Offering a 12-month minimum shelf life, Cox & Co’s new paper flow wrap solution could be a big step in reducing the large amount of chocolate packaging waste that currently ends up in landfill.

Gavin Cox, founder of Cox & Co, said consumers are now actively seeking brands that take sustainability seriously and products that are easy to recycle.

“Chocolate is a popular household purchase and yet so little of the packaging can be easily recycled at kerbside.”

This new packaging also allows the brand to reduce its packaging costs by 35%, offsetting price rises and enabling it to continue to offer its bars at a competitive price.

“This will make a significant difference to our costs overall,” added Cox. “We can effectively keep prices competitive whilst doing our bit to reduce our environmental impact; it’s a win win.”


News & Updates

DS Smith works on plastic-free Oceans toilet tissue & kitchen towels

DS Smith has worked on new packaging for Oceans – one of the first UK manufacturers to offer plastic-free toilet tissue and kitchen towels.

According to DS Smith, 1 in 4 (26%) online shoppers would stop ordering from a company if they experienced too much unnecessary packaging, and over a fifth (22%) would do the same if the packaging was not recyclable or difficult to recycle.

The brand wanted to design a range of introductory packs which would encourage customers to make use of its subscription offer for toilet roll, safe in the knowledge that the packaging was plastic-free and 100% recyclable.

DS Smith developed a range of designs for the introductory packs, ensuring that this aligned with Oceans sustainability mission as a business.

After testing from DS Smith designers and Oceans customers, the finished box was made from 100% recyclable content, with modified dimensions to cut down on waste and space.

To maximise customer experience when opening the box, the design featured an introduction to the brand, Oceans messaging and a QR code with details on how first-time customers could get 10% off on the next Oceans order.

As a result, Oceans saw over half of customers make a repeat order online or make another purchase at the same time as the trial purchase.

Andy Brereton, design for creative lead, DS Smith, said: “Consumers are paying greater attention to where they source their everyday essentials, but this doesn’t mean that the sustainable choice needs to be boring. The challenge with many sustainable toilet roll subscription brands is designing packaging that remains appealing and functional, all the while staying true to the brand’s values.”

Graham Cox, chief operating officer for Accrol, added: “Sales of eco-friendly toilet roll have been on the increase over the past couple of years, and at Oceans, we want to make it easier for people to give sustainable alternatives a go. It was crucial that the finished ecommerce design reflected our values as a business of caring for people and planet – from the materials used for the packaging, through to the branding featured on the box. Introducing a smaller box for our subscription orders has also meant that we’ve cut down on waste and space in the design, thanks to modified dimensions.”


News & Updates

Free The Birds revamps packs for wellness products brand Magne B6

Free The Birds has designed new packs for wellness products brand Magne B6.

Parent company Sanofi Consumer Healthcare sought a design solution which repositioned the product as a mental health wellness brand in key markets across Europe.

Free The Birds was tasked with the transformation not only of the brand’s Magne B6 packaging, but also the perception of the product and its daily usage, both on and off pack.

]A key objective was to drive brand penetration across a multitude of consumer touchpoints, creating a distinct look and feel which enforced the benefit-led architecture of Magne B6 as a wellness brand.

The design agency created a brand marque which visualises crystal shards, aimed at signifying ‘strength of mind’ for consumers.

The crystal shard becomes an omnipresent factor in product displays, marketing and communications including TV advertisements and the website.

Nick Vaus, co-founder and managing partner, Free The Birds, said: “The nature of designing packaging for health and wellness products always presents an exciting challenge, as potential customers must feel an immediate sense of recognition and trust in the products they choose to purchase. This is never more prevalent than with products which are to be considered as a wellness brand, over and above products which serve a specific purpose for those suffering from a deficiency.”

Błażej Herzyk, global marketing director, Sanofi Consumer Healthcare, added: “With the dramatic growth of the mental health and wellness space, it has become imperative that Magne B6 be seen as a product which can support mental wellness, and strengthen our position to expand access and bring health in the hands of more people. We are pleased with the solution that Free The Birds has provided to help us achieve more effective market presence, while also ensuring robust cohesion on shelves and in marketing outreach efforts.”


News & Updates

Smartfill technology: packageless retail solutions embrace the circular economy

Smartfill technology is emerging as a game-changer in the retail packaging space. Initiated by Smollan as an R&D project, and developed by digital transformation agency DY/DX as a solution for packageless retail, this technology is set to redefine how we think about packaging and its role in the circular economy.

At its core, smartfill technology is designed to optimise retail packaging through a smart, efficient and sustainable solution.

“A true circular economy solution is not just about recycling, it’s about completely rethinking how products are packaged and delivered to consumers, reducing waste and improving efficiency,” says Nevo Hadas of DY/DX.

There is a clear and urgent need to rethink retail packaging and business models fully within different market contexts, according to Hadas.

“While recycling may work well in Europe, in developing markets where recycling facilities are often unavailable, the current models fall short. The smaller packaging to cater for these markets means more plastic waste and less product, exacerbating environmental issues, while failing to meet consumer needs for affordability,” he says.

Packageless retail solutions

Smartfill technology, with its focus on packageless retail, offers a viable solution. By reducing the need for traditional packaging and enabling more efficient product distribution, it can help address both the waste issue and the need for cost-effective retail in under-serviced areas.

One of the most compelling examples of Smartfill’s potential is the success of the Spar Tembisa pilot in South Africa. Customers can use their own containers or paper bags, fill them with the desired amount of product from Smartfill dispensers, and only pay for the product they take.Image suppliedImage supplied

“This pilot demonstrated strong consumer demand, strengthening the retailer business case for packageless retail. Consumers purchased varied amounts that are not prepackaged on shelves, while the retailer enjoyed higher margins by selling from bulk at small-size prices. The pilot tripled the sales of product under 1kg, moving over 550kg of product,” says Hadas.

Similarly, a Unilever pilot in Bangladesh showcases the adaptability of Smartfill technology. The project focused on delivering personal care products in a packageless format, demonstrating that even industries heavily reliant on traditional packaging can successfully embrace this new approach.

The initiative supports Unilever’s global work to reduce the impact of its products when used by consumers. Unilever Bangladesh’s work in sustainability, including the Smartfill refill dispenser as a solution for the mass market, was presented to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, to great acclaim.

Smartfill’s potential extends even beyond retail. A school pilot with fortified food manufacturer Millhouse in Hilton, Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, shows that this technology can also play a pivotal role in addressing malnutrition.

By using Smartfill systems, the school is providing the nutrient-rich Endgame formula to students, monitoring usage with smart face recognition technology and providing an advanced way to manage stock replenishment and logistics.

Hadas says that adopting new technologies and human-centred design thinking is critical to solve retail packaging challenges, and it is exciting to see how this approach can be applied to societal challenges as well.

“Taking innovative approach to packageless retail, as well as embracing the potential applications of Smartfill across a variety of sectors, has the power to transform our approach to sustainability and efficiency. As we move towards a more circular economy, solutions like Smartfill will be instrumental in paving the way for a more sustainable future.”