Recyclable packaging: Conserving resources with eco-friendly solutions

Recyclable packaging
Photo: © drinktec

How can different industries unite to find universal solutions that make the future more sustainable? Recyclable packaging is a solution that’s especially important within the beverages and liquid food sector. Bottle-to-bottle recycling and sustainable technologies are in high demand from producers and consumers alike, and the industry is developing exciting new approaches to get the most out of materials and reduce packaging waste.

● In response to consumer demands and regulatory requirements, companies in the beverage and liquid food sectors are investing heavily in sustainable packaging solutions. 

● Using thinner materials, reducing waste, and recycling packaging materials in closed-loop systems are areas they’re focusing on to create more sustainability.

● Curbing emissions, eco-friendly materials, and consumer acceptance are significant challenges that recyclable packaging must address.

There’s no lack of motivation in the beverage and liquid food sectors when it comes to sustainability: most companies in the industry are preparing to overhaul operations. According to a study by Euromonitor, more than 70% of F&B companies are investing in sustainable changes to production, such as eco-friendly packaging. Most industry players aim to boost sustainable packaging significantly by 2026.

Recyclable packaging & co: The status quo

Companies are turning to sustainable packaging materials to limit their environmental impact and meet consumer demand for more eco-friendly solutions. Increased awareness of this topic affects the product and its entire supply chain. New processes like bottle-to-bottle recycling offer great potential for polyethylene terephthalate (PET) disposable packaging. This method grinds used PET bottles into PET flakes and re-purposes them for new bottles. By keeping waste materials in the cycle, high-quality PET materials can be re-used repeatedly. The process is subject to rigorous testing and meets the highest safety and quality standards.

Photo: Fotoblend on Pixabay

Additionally, the market is subject to increasing regulatory requirements. Calls for action from policymakers and industry leaders demand that companies curb their environmental impact, and new rules are in place to ensure manufacturers follow suit. One example is the EU Plastics Directive that intends to reduce plastic residue on beaches. Regulations have been a major driver for innovation and have led to the development of new solutions like ‘tethered caps’, which are fused to the bottle and much less likely to become a pollutant. Under the EU Directive, tethered caps will be mandatory for containers up to three litres from 2024 onward.

New developments in sustainable packaging

The F&B industry has developed several eco-packaging solutions that have already begun to transform the sector:

Developing thinner packaging materials for PET bottles is a simple and effective way to reduce waste and make packaging more sustainable.

Improved recycling designs use specific materials and colouring that are easier to separate in recycling, and drastically reduce CO2 emissions compared to conventional packaging.

Optimised material cycles make packaging more sustainable by reducing waste. Currently, bottle-to-bottle recycling is the most effective process in the field.

In-house recycling plants and closed-loop systems allow manufacturers to reclaim valuable PET raw material and reuse it in the production process. 

Challenges in recyclable packaging

Despite the many exciting innovations exhibitors at drinktec are presenting, manufacturing is still tied to external circumstances that present challenges for recyclable packaging materials.

Cutting emissions in beverage manufacturing and packaging to zero is currently impossible. Nonetheless, several innovations can reduce the carbon footprint, such as reusing process heat in the production cycle.

There’s also room for improvement directly on the shelf. Consumers are generally sceptical when their products get a new look. But changes are necessary to make packaging more sustainable. Eco-friendly alternatives, like flat bottles on a recycled PET basis, can be stored much more efficiently by avoiding air pockets and reduce CO2 emissions considerably.

Another major challenge is finding eco-friendly solutions that work in the ultra-long term. One existing alternative to plastic is paper –which is already in short supply today.

Bottle-to-bottle recycling, green-labelling and more: Exhibitors at drinktec

drinktec 2022 is the leading trade fair for the beverage and liquid food industry. Manufacturers responsible for ground-breaking innovations in sustainable packaging gather at the event to present the industry’s newest technological advancements. They also gain the opportunity to forge partnerships with the potential to supercharge the development of a more sustainable future in beverage manufacturing.

Bottle-to-bottle-recycling technology (with systems by our exhibitors Starlinger and Erema) is key to more sustainable beverage packaging. Green-labelling (by CCL Label) or manufacturing solutions for tethered caps (by Packsys Global) offer innovative strategies to limit environmental impact. drinktec brings these forward-thinking companies together. You can get up to speed on our many exhibitors with the exhibitor index, updated daily.

The place to be: Cutting-edge sustainable packaging at drinktec 2022

Conserve resources, reduce waste, and reuse materials – Munich’s drinktec helps major industry players realise these goals by providing the necessary industry knowledge. To make quantifiable long-term sustainability and zero emissions a reality, F&B companies must explore improvements in every step of the supply chain – from containers over reusable packaging aids to transport routes.

Next to recyclable packaging, other creative approaches are also driving ecological innovation in the beverage industry: climate-neutral beer, sustainable cap connections, and the holistic approach to beer production at Hofbräuhaus München are some of the many exciting developments.

Join us in exploring a unique range of sustainable solutions, innovative products and world-firsts for yourself, and discover what you can do to prepare your company for the future. drinktec 2022 takes place from September 12 to 16 and will impress and inspire you and your company. Check out our Ticketshop for tickets.

Would you like to find out about current trends on the beverage market and exchange professional information? Then we invite you to take part in the next drinktec, which will be held in Munich from September 12 to 16, 2022.

drinktec Blog-Team

The drinktec team writes reports on everything to do with drinktec and gives insights into what is going on behind the scenes of the trade fair.