Spotlight on plastics at 2018 AIP Conference 

by PlastixANZ 

The key role that plastic plays in the packaging industry was a major focus at the recent 2018 Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) conference.

The international conference, held at the Marriot Resort, Surfers Paradise, Queensland on May 2-3, recognised the significant contribution and major challenges facing the Australian plastics industry in packaging. 

The two-day event kicked off with a welcome address by the AIP’s National President, Dr. Carol Kilcullen-Lawrence. 

And 58 speakers from over 20 countries delivered entertaining and informative presentations on the future of global packaging.

The main theme centered on innovations for sustainable packaging to help reduce food wastage.

According to Brianna Casey from Foodbank Australia, ‘a staggering 3.6million Australian have experienced food insecurity in the last 12 months’. ‘At the same time, we throw out $20 billion of food each year’, Brianna said.

Most speakers acknowledged the central role plastic plays in the preservation and transportation of food and beverages.

However, the public perception of plastic is that the product has a negative impact on the environment. Also, there is much public confusion relating to plastic recycling.

Gayle Slaon from the Waste Management Association of Australia said: “Consumers have huge expectations on recycling, but we buy more than we need and we are still using packing materials that cannot be recycled back to the system.”

According to Han Michel, board member of Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE), the packaging industry has a huge opportunity to champion the cause of sustainability through minimising packaging wastage, improving shelve life of products and using recyclable materials.

More and more companies are doing just that. For example, Ominverse Foster Packaging is using Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) which is biobased and biodegradable as a packaging solution.

And Multivac has developed an alternative packaging material as well as using new packaging concepts such as the mono materials or biopolymer to meet the recycling quota.  

Companies are also exploring innovative ideas such as using labeling that changes color to indicate the freshness of contents and resealable packing to reduce waste and prolong content shelve life.

What we are not doing well as an industry according to Han is the way we dispel some of the negativity relating to plastic usage. We should be more vocal as an industry to let the consumer know we are using sustainable packaging solutions that will preserve food better and waste less.

Recently, Australia Packaging Covenant Organisation has partnered with Woolworths and Planet Ark Environmental Foundation to implement a nationwide labeling scheme that provides clear information to consumers and supports the harmonisation of collection systems. The objective is to reduce confusion by creating a clear and well-understood label that enables the industry to convey to consumers how to recycle a package after use, improve the reliability and accuracy of recyclability claims through a matrix of recyclability of all materials and formats. This holistic approach ensures a more circular model of production and consumption.   

Other highlights of the conference included Shelley McMillan from the Trend and Innovation Consultant Mintel discussed the four following treads that will influence the food and drink sector worldwide in 2018:

-Full Disclosure: In their new post-truth reality, consumers require complete and total transparency from food and drink companies.

-Self-fulling Practices: As more people find modern life to be hectic and stressful, flexible and balanced diets will become an Integral element of self-care routines.

-New Sensations: Texture is the latest tool to engage the senses and deliver a share-worthy experience.

-Science Fare: Technology is being used to engineer solutions for their stretched global food supply.

Apart from addressing packaging business, AIP threw a magnificent PIDA award and the World Packaging Organisation 2018 Worldstar packaging award night in recognition of our local and overseas industry champions alike.

We at Grange Media21 would like to congratulate the well-deserved winners.

Please click on this link to find out the 2018 PIDA winners in their respective category.

On the second day, the AIP Conference also hosted the ‘Women In Industry Breakfast Forum’ to celebrate cultural diversity and gender equality in the packaging industry.

Judging by the large audience it was well received and supported by all involved.

We take this opportunity to thank and congratulate Dr. Carol and her team for organising this spectacular event. 


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