Plastic packaging and its impact on the environment are important issues in the drinks industry as they are in many other areas. For many packaging manufacturers, customers’ desire for sustainable drinks packaging is a key factor in deciding to switch to environmentally friendly alternatives to plastic bottles. This trend also represents a promising area of activity for marketing within the drinks industry: After all, new forms of packaging provide an abundance of “green arguments” to convince consumers of the benefits of plastic alternatives.
It seems the time is ripe for this: A report in the press caused alarm recently, as it told of a remote island in the South Pacific, awash with millions of pieces of plastic packaging. And how does all the plastic get there? The island is near one of many “trash whirlpools” found in the world’s oceans where garbage accumulates. The devastating effects of waste packaging on the ecosystem are well documented. It is estimated that each year several million tons of plastic find their way into our oceans. Experts are working on the assumption that plastic bottles will take 450 years to degrade. As a result, there is increasing consumer demand for the use of environmentally friendly drinks packaging, which is forcing the drinks industry to take action.
Packaging Materials Made from Renewable Resources Are On-Trend
The market for plastic packaging is already in motion. There are a number of promising approaches to developing environmentally friendly alternatives to conventional PET packaging, with recyclable PET bottles already on the market. Another step along the path to greater conservation of resources is the use of recycled PET (R-PET). Coca-Cola already showed what is possible with their “PlantBottle”, introduced back in 2009, which consists of up to 30 percent plant-based material. Then, in 2015, a bottle was introduced that consisted of up to 100 percent natural renewable raw materials. New developments in the area of drinks packaging will also be under the spotlight at this year’s drinktec and will, in fact, have their own additional exhibition area in halls A1 and A2.
PEF – Biological Packaging Material As an Alternative to Plastic Bottles
PEF (Polyethylene Furanoate), a purely bio-based plastic obtained from renewable materials, is a particularly exciting development in the area of alternative packaging materials. First and foremost, PEF is characterized by the fact that it can hardly be distinguished from PET in terms of both looks and feel. Its increased imperviousness to carbon dioxide and oxygen, as well as its higher mechanical strength, mean bottles made from this material can have thinner walls than those made from PET. This not only means the packaging is more environmentally friendly, it is also lighter and saves on materials, providing marketing departments with a number of persuasive arguments. As it stands, the material has yet to break through into the industry, meaning commercial marketability is yet to be achieved. However, BASF and Avantium have set up a new company in order to further develop and market PEF, meaning both goals are now within touching distance. Ultimately, in the long term, it will be essential to stop using petroleum-based packaging. Marketers should therefore be ready for bio-based plastics to start causing a stir on the mass market. Consumers today are increasingly taking ecological criteria into account when deciding whether or not to purchase a product. As long as they don’t become too expensive for the consumer and handling remains good, or even improves, bio-plastics seems to be in a pretty strong position.
The Innovation Flow Lounge, located in hall B1 at this year’s drinktec, will be the venue for two presentations focusing on the issue of Ecology from a marketing perspective: Simon Hoffmeyer Boas (Carlsberg) will be looking at “The Green Fiber Bottle Experience” and examining, among other things, the question of whether the use of environmentally friendly packaging materials can influence a brand’s image and help reach new target groups. Dr Klaus-Peter Stadler (Inogen Environmental Alliance) will be giving a talk entitled “PE as a Marketing Factor”. The Innovation Flow Lounge is the special meeting place for all marketing experts in the drinks and liquid food industry. The future of drinks marketing will be the topic of discussion here.
As well as packaging material, labeling is also playing an increasingly significant role for marketing within the drinks industry, with the trend here being toward direct printing. Find out more here.