ProSweets 2022 promises major sustainable packaging focus

Stand: TLM, Halle 10.1

A core theme of sustainable packaging is set to take centre stage at ProSweets Cologne 2022, returning after the pandemic resulted in the cancellation of this year’s planned event, writes, Neill Barston.

As Confectionery Production has reported recently, a growing number of major businesses operating across the sector are making direct moves to reduce their environmental impact, increasingly switching to eco-friendly materials including mono films or responsibly sourced paper.

The German supplier event trade fair – which has showcased a broad range of industry equipment, systems and broader technology, has continued to operate in parallel to its sister finished product event, ISM. As its organisers noted – the development of sustainable packaging requires an equal level of innovation from machinery businesses, which will be highlighted at the event next January.

Last year’s show, which we reported on including our exclusive video coverage saw a number of equipment innovations being unveiled, and was hailed a considerable success despite falling just as the coronavirus pandemic was unfurling in China – resulting in a decrease in visitors from Asia due to the start of lockdown conditions.

More than 18 months on, and conditions are showing signs of improvement in many territories around the world, including within Germany, with organisers confident that the 2022 live event will proceed as planned.

As Prosweets organisers noted, packaging is playing a more vital role than ever in the battle to win over the favour of the consumers at the point of sale. Recycling-friendly design will become of key importance in the advertising and communications segment once the EU’s “Green Deal” comes into force at the latest – a trend which will be reflected at ProSweets Cologne 2022 in Cologne.

Sustainable packaging has become a significant aspect for the entire sweets and snacks industry. A conclusion that can also be drawn from a survey carried out in March on behalf of the German Packaging Institute (dvi). According to the survey, the consumers in Germany consider packaging to be more sustainable than ever. 44 percent – around half of the respondents – claimed that packaging had progressed considerably in terms of its environmental-friendliness.

Consequently, the The 3R principle – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – is firmly anchored in the strategies of the industry, because the latest progress includes both savings in material as well as the implementation of new packing materials as well as intelligent designs for the recycling.

Moreover, the Executive Director of dvi, Kim Cheng, emphasised that in spite of all environmental progress the core function of the packaging has not been neglected. “Packaging is becoming more sustainable while at the same time fulfilling its purpose more efficiently. It is hygienic, protects the goods from damage and perishing, make them last longer, transportable and safe to use,” Cheng stated. For the exhibiting companies at the Cologne fair grounds it is thus decisive whether and how the change-over to sustainable packing materials can be realised without compromising the functionality and convenience.

A current trend in the packaging development is evident here: In the meantime, paper or cardboard is being implemented instead of plastic where possible. The innovative paper solutions feature integrated hot sealing possibilities and moisture barriers against steam. At the same time, they comprise up to 95 percent or more of renewable materials.

“What was still inconceivable for the most suppliers a few years ago, has developed much further in the meantime because more and more fibre-based packing alternatives with barrier functions are replacing plastics,” Peter Désilets, Executive Director of Pacoon, also confirmed.

As a partner of Koelnmesse, the Munich agency for packaging design and sustainability is presenting solutions for sweets and snacks in the scope of a special exhibition in Hall 10.1. With his reusable concept for crisps, Désilets and the Pacoon team want to open up the discussion and demonstrate at ProSweets Cologne that a “solution has to rethink more than just the packaging itself.” The Sustainable Packing Institute SPI for the Life Science Industry of the Albstadt-Sigmaringen University – will also be part of the Packaging Special Event of ProSweets Cologne. The SPI primarily occupies itself with biogenic resources, functional materials, smart packaging, bio-economy and sustainability.

High precision machinery

The packaging machine builders are also faced with a challenge: They have to unite the technological and economical aspects with each other while finding alternatives for plastic. Tailor-made modular systems, the consistent implementation of robotics and flexible retrofitting that allows adaptions to new packaging materials are paving the way towards more sustainability. The machinability of the new packaging materials is the be all and end all for the developers in order to avoid quality deviations, faulty packaging and product damages.

All steps from shaping to sealing have to be perfectly synchronised in order to minimise the burden of the packing material. Machines that enable a good sealing and foil run behaviour or the exact processing of boxes are just as important as packaging machines that can be changed over to new formats quickly.

The portfolio of the exhibitors at ProSweets Cologne includes machines from case packers, to pick-and-place lines, through to tubular bag machines. In many of the presented packaging lines for sweets and snacks, both plastic as well as carton packaging can in the meantime be processed.

Theegarten-Pactec will for instance be demonstrating in Cologne how producers of bars can process their products in tubular bags made from paper-based packing materials. The machine builder has further processed the modular high-performance packaging machine responsible for this in such a way that it can complete the job using either cold or hot sealing processes. A further innovation of the company from Dresden is a suction sealing technology, that wraps bars and filled chocolates in recyclable mono film in letter folding format with or without a banderole allowing the same performance level and which makes the use of composite materials superfluous.

Practice is however also demonstrating that paper-based alternatives for stand-up pouches and flat pouches, deep-drawn trays, shells and blisters are still in the early stages of development. For example, paper only tolerates little tension during an automated packing process and can tear more easily. The use of plastic is still particularly necessary when it comes down to guaranteeing a long sell-by date through especially tight packaging. For further information, visit  www.prosweets.com/fair/industry-sectors

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