AIP looks at future of printing and flexibles

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The 2020 AIP Australian Packaging Conference looked deep into the future of printing and flexibles and came to the conclusion that the future was bright, with innovation the key to overcoming obstacles.

Future of printed packaging: AIP conferencen

A stellar line-up of packaging professionals took part in the live streamed session, hosted by WPO president professor Pierre Pienaar. Taking part were Joe Foster, director of Omniverse Foster Packaging; Jasson Mills, R+D manager at Amcor Flexibles; Patrick Pollack speaking from Germany from Gerhard Schubert; and Yoav Lotan, business manager for HP indigo labels, coming live from Singapore.

Pollack kicked off the session, acknowledging that packaging knew it had a massive global problem in the eyes the consumer, who sees endless photos of plastic littered on beaches. However he said the dilemma was that less than a quarter, 23 per cent, of those consumers would be willing to pay a higher price for their packaging if it meant no more litter. He pointed to the numerous examples where brands were leading the move away from plastic to fibre-based packaging, citing Coca-Cola, Carlsberg and Yakult, among others.

Jasson Mills, R+D manager at the world’s biggest packaging company Amcor, said the company would be either reusing or recycling all its packaging by 2025. He told the audience that 89 per cent of Amcor’s current packaging is recycling ready, and that another eight per cent was on the way, with the company yet to work out how to make the remaining three per cent recyclable.

Mills then took the conference into the Amcor digital watermark concept, which essentially fingerprints each piece of packaging. Once the packaging is post-consumer the waste is automatically sorted, with a camera on the conveyor belt identifying the type of packaging, and the line automatically placing the waste in the correct bin. A full nationwide test is scheduled for the year after next, in either Denmark or Germany.

Packaging industry identity Joe Foster said plastic was an essential part of modern life, and they key to sustainability was innovation and re-engineering. He pointed out the decision by China to stop accepting plastic waste from Australia meant 581,000 tonnes of plastic had to now be dealt with locally.

Looking to the future Foster said augmented reality would deliver personalised content on packaging, that rigids would swap to flexibles, that compostables were not the answer, and that the barrier to innovation was imagination.

Final speaker was Yoav Lotan, HP Indigo labels business manager for the Asia Pacific region. He said that 2020, a year like no other, had exacerbated trends, including that for online shopping, which opened up opportunities for labels and packaging printers. He also said the label mid-range was increasing in volume, with runs between 1,500 metres and 15,000 metres becoming the norm.

Lotan said that the transformation of the market had guided HP Indigo when it came to developing its latest portfolio of products, with application range, colour automation, workflow automation and sustainability as its guiding concepts.

The session ended with Pienaar taking questions, with the Amcor digital packaging watermark piquing the most interest.

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