“In one word, hygiene! Hygiene is the main reason for the increase in food and other consumable product packaging.” This is the answer given by Ari-Pekka Pietilä, Amerplast’s Chief Marketing Officer.
According to Ari-Pekka, the Corona epidemic will generate an increased understanding among consumers regarding the value and importance of packaging, and this is a good thing. In addition to hygiene, packaging provides other benefits: protecting products from handling damage, prolonging shelf life and reducing food waste. Pre-packaged products also make buying easier and faster.
Pietilä is aware that many shopping centers are actively working to reduce the quantity of packaging materials used and for this reason he wants to emphasize that he is referring to “sensible packaging”, as opposed to “over-packaging” and would like to see an increase in discussions concerning reasonable and wise packaging strategies.
But deciding what products to package is only one side of the coin. Equally important is the choice of packaging material used to package the products. “Packaging material should be recyclable. Consumers should recycle and companies should choose recycled plastic as a raw material for new packaging products. The whole recycling value chain must operate otherwise recycling makes no sense.” Pietilä says. According to Pietilä, recycling will certainly increase in the future. Materials that cannot be recycled will eventually become unviable for packaging applications.
Internationally, Finland is considered a good model for recycling, but of course there is always room for improvement. Currently the availability of recycled plastics is growing faster than the demand for recyclable plastics in product applications. Unfortunately, many companies do not use recycled material because of limitations in terms of color, for example. In addition, modern production lines may operate at speeds too demanding for recycled plastic when compared with virgin raw material. Food legislation also imposes restrictions on the use of recycled plastic.
In applications where recycled plastic is not an option, however, companies can still make their products more environmentally friendly with solutions that replace fossil-based raw materials with wood-based, carbon-neutral and recyclable plastics such as Woodly plastic.
Pietilä knows what he is talking about, because Amerplast’s role in plastic recycling is to work with manufacturing companies to identify uses for recycled purified plastic fractions.
Coronavirus is changing the world in many radical ways and there is no going back to yesterday. We hope that these “Corona times” will highlight the importance and value of packaging and inspire companies to make value choices regarding environmentally-friendly packaging.
Now is the time to add recycled plastic as a viable raw material and to replace fossil virgin plastic with a wood-based, recyclable option.
The author is Ari-Pekka Pietilä , Amerplast’s Chief Marketing Officer.