From bio-based plastic to collaboration facilitators, we take look at eight firms using innovation to find solutions in the battle against packaging-based waste
With rising awareness and mounting environmental concern bringing the issue of plastic waste into ever sharper focus, increasing numbers of entrepreneurs are striving to develop innovative solutions help in the quest to deliver sustainable packaging.
From the likes of UK-based Notpla’s seaweed-based edible Ooho drinks bottles, to Swedish furniture giant Ikea replacing its polystyrene packaging with products made from mushrooms, there’s a wealth of waste-saving innovation running through the veins of multiple industries.
Many more of these types of innovations were on display at last week’s Packaging Innovations Conference as part of charity A Plastic Planet’s, PlasticFreeLand.
Talking about its event, the charity’s co-founder Siân Sutherland said: “Three years ago myself and my co-founder launched a very different kind of global social movement to ignite and inspire the world to turn off the plastic tap, and everything we do supports that.
“We are very solutions focused, not problems focused. There are enough people talking about the amount of plastic in the ocean – we don’t need to talk about that, we need to talk about what else we can do.
“We also wanted to champion some of the manufacturers and suppliers of new solutions in the right way.”
We take a look at the firm’s showcased by PlasticFreeLand, to see how and where they are using innovation as they develop a future of plastic-free packaging.
Initially set-up to develop plastic-free packaging for surfboards, Flexi-Hex was founded by twins Sam and Will Boex in 2017, after the former purchased a board that came packed in bubble-wrap.
Using experience gained through transporting boards around the globe, the pair started to manufacture biodegradable sleeves for the board-based sports industry.
The Cornish company has since expanded the range of products to include bottle packaging for wine companies such as Duette and Chapoutier.
Speaking at Packaging Innovations, Sam Boex said: “Flexi-Hex is a kind of recycled hunks and recycled paper seam, which expands to form around various different types of objects.
“Initially developed for the boards market, we are now developing products for the drinks market, looking to develop products for the industrial sector, it’s a very versatile type of packaging.”
Founded in 2010 by Daphna Nissenbaum and Tal Neuman, TIPA’s goal is to address the issue of the plastic waste challenge.
The firm’s vision is for flexible packaging to have the same end-of-life as organic matter, while still offering consumers and brands durability, transparency and shelf-life.
To develop such plastic, TIPA uses bio-materials designed to function like conventional packaging, with the product said to be adaptable to their current packaging and production practices.
Set-up as a family-owned company in 2015, Danish-based Maistic Bio Group is a compostable bioplastic developer.
Initially co-funded by national state investment financier, The Danish Growth Fund, Maistic has developed 20+ products.
Most of the products are sold in supermarkets, retailers and ecommerce outlets, offering solutions including home compostable shopping bags and waste bags for cutlery, plates and cups.
Founded by Simon Balderson and Ian Beardsall in 2003, Sirane has the objective of providing a new pace of innovation and level of service to the packaging industry.
Its core skills are formed around material science, design and process engineering, allowing the firm to develop new products along with the machinery to produce them.
The firm is a developer of bio-degradable, bio-compostable, microwaveable and ovenable materials, as well as protective packaging for food, medical, industrial and horticultural applications.
Peterson and Control Union
Originally an agricultural inspections company, Peterson and Control Union currently operates in logistics, quality, certifications and risk management.
The family-owned firm has outlets in more than 70+ countries, employing more than 4,000 workers.
Part of multi-national’s business is an internal programme called Dare to Care, developed to improve the company’s sustainability performance.
Based on four key pillars — customers, employees, environment and community — it considers the environment by co-sharing helicopters and supply vessels to reduce consumption, as well as enhancing online conference facilities to reduce air travel.
Speaking ahead of the Packaging Innovations conference, Control Union UK’s managing director Franco Constantini said: “The plastic-free initiative is an important addition, which fits well within our portfolio of sustainability programmes.
“Thanks to our global presence and our expertise with certifications, Control Union will be able to support A Plastic Planet in the growth of truly plastic-free products.”
AB Group Packaging
Wales-based AB Group Packaging is a multinational manufacturer of paper bags and flexible packaging for buyers across a broad range of market sectors.
Operating plants in Ireland, Spain and the UK, the firm sources paper from responsibly managed forests that meet Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification and Forest Stewardship Council requirements.
Along with being members of both On-Pack Recycling Label and the Green Dot, the firm offers a recyclable paper bag made from customers’ own paper-based waste material.
Based in the UK city of Southampton, Biome Bioplastics works as a developer in the polymer sector.
The aim of the firm is to produce bioplastics in an effort to challenge oil-based polymers, and ultimately replace them completely.
Founded in 2007, it began to develop its own biopolymers, made partly or wholly from sustainable planet sources.
It has since produced a range of sustainable products including BiomeEasyFlow — a low viscosity biopolymer designed for coating to paper, board and film — and BioLam for use in multilayer film structures.
Working with brands including Costa, Unilever and Coca-Cola, REELbrands works to develop sustainable packaging.
Founded by Chris McNeil and Ian Bates in 2017, the firm aims to collaborate with manufacturing partners and designers to help brands and retailers fast-track the development of sustainable packaging.
Speaking at Packaging Innovations, Bates said: “I started REELbrands 18 months ago primarily because I was fed up with seeing so much plastic packaging out there on the market.
“We work with brands, retailers, designers and manufacturers in a very collaborative way to make the impossible possible.
“We are working with other companies to create new innovations… out of what nature gives us, which can be recycled and reused.”