The Circular Economy of Plastics — Part 2: Finding Viable Packaging Alternatives

04/11/2019 | Eros Burelli

In the first article of this two-part series, we explored global initiatives and legislation aimed at restricting or eliminating single-use plastics, especially as it relates to plastic packaging. Driven by mounting evidence that minimizing reliance on plastic is critical to ecological and environmental preservation, compostable packaging solutions are being pursued.
Finding suitable packaging alternatives, however, is proving to be a challenge as any solution:

  • Must offer product protection, wrapping versatility, and equipment runnability equivalent to that of plastic
  • Doesn't have to be transparent because with e-commerce, consumers believe in what they can see in images, but should be printed in natural colors
  • Should be recyclable versus compostable to align with consumer preferences
  • Should not be subject to restrictions concerning the use of plastic as anticipated by the European Union in 2018

What Are The Alternatives?

Identifying sustainable materials that meet these requirements definitely narrows the field of available options. Current frontrunners worthy of further evaluation include:

  • Virgin fiber paper
  • Recycled fiber paper
  • Biodegradable post-consumer bio-plastic that can be considered as organic waste
  • Wrapping material that can be immediately reused in the pulper, eliminating plastic waste

Fabio Perini Seeks Solutions

Evaluating these materials has been a recent focus for Fabio Perini, especially how they function on the line. To get closer to a viable solution, a testing protocol has been developed for objective comparison of the current and future alternative materials, specifically their impact on:

  • Packaging performance as it relates to durability and material biodegradability
  • Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)
  • Wrapping equipment compatibility

Proactively gathering insights about what works — and what doesn’t — to replace single-use plastics enables Fabio Perini to understand how equipment modifications may be made and implemented to accommodate changes in materials, and also guide customers in decisions about wrappers in light of expanding plastics legislation.

The world continues to move away from plastic packaging. It’s imperative manufacturers remain diligent in which alternatives are available in order to properly serve customers and also maintain high OEE. Ready to learn more about what’s evolving in the circular economy of plastics and your place in it? Contact Fabio Perini today.

Topics: Trends

Eros Burelli

Written by Eros Burelli

Eros Burelli is Marketing Product Manager for packaging equipment at Fabio Perini, S.p.A. He began his career working as a mechanical engineer, mounting and testing machines at customer plants. He’s built his global expertise by working hand in hand with customers, bringing and developing what the market needs at the Fabio Perini plant.