Weather-hit Packaging Innovations a “resounding success”

ORGANISERS of Packaging Innovations, Empack and Label&Print 2018 hailed this year’s show a “resounding success” despite adverse weather conditions, which made it challenging for some people to attend.

Over 300 suppliers were in attendance at Birmingham’s NEC for an exhibition where sustainability challenges played a leading role.

Representatives from Coca Cola, Co-op, Marks & Spencer and Iceland formed a panel as part of The Big Plastics Debate. The discussion was so popular that it had to be live-streamed on four other stages to satisfy audience demand. The panel agreed more needs to be done to battle the use of plastics and highlighted the role of litter in bringing the subject of packaging to the public’s attention.

Nick Brown, head of sustainability at Coca Cola European Partners said, “Our aim is to make our packaging as sustainable as possible. I think it is fair to say that all of the panel have the same ambition. This will not be a quick process, as we must not compromise on safety or hygiene as we go, but through collaboration with the other big brands we will get there. Also, we must use our brand power in a positive way, contributing the right recycling and littering messages, as well as showing the public that we are doing more.”

Robert Thompson, packaging technologist at Co-op discussed how packaging recyclability is important to 85% of Co-op members. He announced that as of January 2018, 71% of Co-op’s packaging is easy to recycle, but there is still more work to be done, with CPET, flexibles and vanity black plastics being cited as the top three challenges. He added, “Our goal is to have 100% of our packaging easy to recycle. We have removed vanity black trays from a lot of produce, such as mushrooms and premium tomatoes, and we will be completely free of vanity black trays in produce during 2018.”

A new feature this year, The Sustainability Trail, gave visitors the chance to experience the latest ‘green’ innovations within the marketplace, while the Sustainability Wall saw visitors share their thoughts on sustainability.

The new Innovation Zone was the setting for a range of new products, materials and services. Attendees voted for their favourite product, with RPC M&H Plastics triumphing for its ‘green’ plastic flexible Sugar Cane Tubes.

Over 100 new products were launched over the two days. These included Colpac’s Cookpack Hot Boxes and compostable ovenable trays and Greenearth Food Packaging’s biodegradable wooden food trays.

70% of onsite exhibitors are said to have rebooked on the spot for next year. James Drake-Brockman, divisional director of Easyfairs’ Packaging Portfolio said, “Firstly, let me thank everyone who attended the event. We know the weather conditions were not ideal, but those who did make it, helped make the show a resounding success.

“The event came at a time when the packaging industry is under more scrutiny than ever before, with the Government, media and consumers all calling for change. The show and our exhibitors really rose to this challenge, with visitors highlighting our Big Plastics Debate, Ecopack Challenge and Sustainability Trail, plus all the exhibitor innovation as key moments from the two days. It was a real opportunity for the industry to show what it’s capable of, and it delivered.”