Innovations that changed how food companies package food in 2020

GLOBAL – 2020 was a year when major companies in the global food space announced ambitious sustainability goals which they also embarked on achieving.

Plastic, the major component of unsustainable packaging, was at the centre of these commitments to sustainability with most global food and beverage companies committing to getting rid of this material from their production lines.

With plastic being increasingly unpopular, manufactures shifted their focus to more environmentally friendly materials, leading to one of the most radical innovations in the food packaging sector.  

Food Business Africa takes a look back at some of the developments in 2020 that could help shape the future of the packaging in the food industry.

Frugalpac Paper-based bottle for wine and spirits

In July, packaging manufacturer Frugalpac introduced a fully recyclable paper-based bottle for wine and spirits.

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The Frugal Bottle is made from 94% recycled paperboard with a food-grade plastic liner to hold the liquid.

Weighing just 83g, the paper-based bottle is ‘five times lighter than a normal glass bottle’, according to Frugalpac.

An independent Life Cycle Analysis by Intertek found the Frugal Bottle to have a carbon footprint up to six times lower than a glass bottle and more than a third less than a bottle made from 100% recycled plastic.

Diageo unveils ‘world’s first-ever’ 100% plastic-free paper-based spirits bottle

Fresh on the heels of the Frugalpac announcement, Diageo unveiled a 100% plastic-free paper-based spirits bottle, an innovation the company said was a world first.

Set to debut with Johnnie Walker whisky in early 2021, the bottle is said to be made entirely from sustainably sourced wood and is expected to be fully recyclable in standard waste streams.

The paper-based innovation was developed by Pulpex, a sustainable packaging technology company launched through a partnership between Diageo and venture management firm Pilot Lite.

Pulpex has also established a partner consortium of FMCG companies in non-competing categories, each of which plans to launch their own branded paper bottles based on Pulpex’s design and technology.

Kellogg’s Pringles brand unveils paper can trial in UK

Also putting paper at the centre of its sustainable packaging innovation, Kellogg announced in September that it was trialling new easy-to-recycle paper packaging for its Pringles brand.

Made using a combination of foil, paper board, metal and plastic, the current Pringles tube can be difficult to recycle through household recycling channels.

The new can is made from recycled paper and has been trialled with two kinds of lids, one paper and one plastic, as part of a partnership with UK retailer Tesco.

Commenting at the time the scheme was being launched, the company said that if successful, it could roll out the new packaging across Europe.

Bacardi to launch 100% biodegradable spirits bottle

In October, Bacardi announced plans to launch a new biopolymer spirits bottle by 2023, which it said would biodegrade in 18 months without leaving behind harmful microplastics.

Developed by Danimer Scientific, Nodax PHA is a biopolymer derived from the oils of plant seeds such as palm, canola and soy. Bacardi plans to roll out the material to replace single-use plastic across its entire supply chain and its 200 brands and labels, starting with Bacardí rum bottles.

Bacardi currently produces around 80 million plastic bottles across its portfolio of brands every year.

Parting shot

It can be seen from the above innovations, that companies are constantly pushing themselves to achieve greater results when it comes to sustainable packaging.

Frugalpac, Diageo, Kellog, and Bacardi set the pace for the future of food packaging. In 2021, we can only anticipate more innovative packaging being developed as major global companies from the Swiss food giant Nestle to the Belgium based multinational alcoholic beverage maker AB-InBev strive to achieve their ambitious sustainability goals.

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