Flexible packaging and circular economy collaboration
Windmoller & Holscher CEO, Peter Steinbeck takes on modern day packaging during the 9th edition of Specialty Films and Flexible Packaging global summit on 5 September in Sahara Star.
06 Oct 2022 | By Janhavi Sisodia
Peter Steinbeck, CEO of Windmoller & Holscher, during the ElitePlus summit addressed modern day packaging. He said, “The most important global challenge that we all are facing today is climate change and reducing carbon footprint is the biggest boon to that.” Peter said that flexible packaging is an answer to all the modern-day problems and it has been the same for a long time.
Steinbeck talked about how flexible packaging will still be an answer; when we look into the future with a low carbon footprint, long shelf life, low transportation weight and with its robustness and hygienic aspects. He believes that the challenge of waste management and pollution needs a discussion about flexible packaging.
“The brand owners pledging sustainability while counting on packaging producers to deliver the required solutions and on the other side, this industry is facing the issue of qualified employees. Finding new employees and retaining them is becoming difficult,” added Peter. He said that India has a strong workforce which he would like to take aboard but finding them is a challenge.
Then he talked about the cost sensitivity and said that “it has to make economic sense at the end of the day” and sensitivity remains high as all the requirements increase. Peter believes that creating a circular economy is the answer for converting challenges into opportunities. “We have to improve efficient production and we have to use all the new digital technologies that are available to create the circular economy,” he added.
He gave some numbers for big brand owners; they want to increase their goals from 60% to 100% in six years and also they want to increase their recycled content to 30 or more than 30% by 2025.
He said, “Looking at the circular economy, we talk about the aspects that we really can influence the packaging design on one hand and then the recycled content on the other. If we look back at 2019, we presented a 100% recyclable pouch produced with our technology made from one material which offers protective properties, extended shelf life, compact transport and secured and with a minimal CO2 footprint.”
Later, he talked about mono-material solutions made with MDOPE that are “becoming the new flexible packaging staff”. He gave the example of UFlex and its transformation into sustainable packaging by installing MDOPE technology at UFlex. Adding to that he said, “We also go for barrier structures and big bags which are recyclable, cost efficient and highly productive with oxygen barriers and energy efficient protection.”
Then he talked about the hierarchies of recycled materials. “There is pre-consumer recycling, then we have recycled material from the commercial side, from the household side and the last one is used for food packaging, with no issue on the industrial packaging side,” he added. Peter believes that a lot of companies from the machinery industry are open to discussing this with brand owners, raw material providers and the convergence that is mostly present also in this room here.
He said that Windmoller & Holscher has the technology installations to try and develop new solutions for the brand owners; facing 15% unproductive time in installations for changeovers, start-ups and maintenance.