As a member of the SISTERS consortium we were delighted to have the opportunity to contribute to awareness raising on the matter of packaging.
The article is available at the official SISTERS website on the following llink: https://sistersproject.eu/how-did-packaging-change-over-the-decades-to-become-the-packaging/ and below is its transcript:
How did packaging change over the decades to become “The Packaging”?
In ancient times, humans used natural materials to package goods, using materials such as animal skins, woven cloth and wooden crates. As civilization progressed, people began to use more durable materials to package their goods and products. This led to the development of packaging technologies such as paper, cardboard, and plastic. Over time, plastics and aluminum came to be pervasive in the packaging industry due to their durability, affordability and ease of mobility. However, this created a major and everlasting problem for the environment and the society – global pollution. We soon began to pay the price for the functionality and appealing packaging, which, in addition to its basic purpose, needed to boost sales, thus resulting in greater profit and competitiveness on the market.
Taking into account the growing population and the environmental challenges of today, we observe packaging from different angles. It is no longer just about the attractive packaging, but rather packaging that will follow new trends and offer more sustainable solutions. Product preservation, best machine-running properties, longer shelf life and end-of-life are new requirements to which the packaging industry needs to respond and that have been identified as crucial in order to reduce negative effects on the environment, but also to promote circularity.
An ongoing shift with packaging is certainly in its materials. Substitution of fossil-based materials with bio-based solutions pushed the boundaries of scientific knowledge and brought packaging to another level. Formulations based on different types and ratios of biopolymers that perfectly meet the properties of the final product are continuously researched and developed, and at the same time, with their biological source and end-of-life scenario, they successfully respond to today’s social challenges, contributing to the global goal of reducing dependence on fossil sources and reducing CO2 emissions.
Within the framework of the SISTERS project
One of the main objectives of SISTERS is to increase the performance of bio-based food packaging, offering a solution in Home compostable, PLA based, packaging. The challenge is to develop a PLA matrix that will also be compostable in Home compost. PLA, as a base polymer, provides transparency to the final product, so it is often used for flexible packaging. Due to its transparency, as well as its lower market price and easier availability, compared to other polymers such as PHBH, PBS, PCL and others, it is often used in the food industry.
Creating a PLA packaging that is suitable for home composting will definitely be quite a challenge.
The SISTER project will, hopefully prove that it can be solved and that the limits of the present-day scientific knowledge can be pushed forward. In order for new innovative packaging to achieve its full potential, in addition to scientists, it is necessary for the brand owners and consumers to contribute as well. New era of sustainable packaging solutions will, and already is, requiring changes throughout the whole value chain, from manufacturers to end-users and they often seem more expensive at first, but have no alternative when it comes a better tomorrow. Innovative and environmentally friendly packaging definitely plays an important role in creating a more sustainable future, and that is exactly why we see packaging today as “the packaging”.