Environmental Awareness is on The Rise Around The World

The worldwide trend and shift towards alternative packaging materials signal how consumers are becoming more environment-conscious. How can material suppliers, machine manufacturers and packaging processors work together to ensure that we enter into a circular economy and where do we stand on the way to getting there from a global perspective?

VDMA Printing and Paper Technology Association unites 180 European machine manufacturers and system developers for printing and print processing and paper manufacturing and thereby advances the interests of the companies represented in the association. Through the “Circular Competence” interview series, the members reveal their operational measures and solutions for the path towards a circular economy. In this interview edition, Andrea Glawe, sales director of the Asia-Pacific region at Kroenert, a market-leading coating solution developer, was invited to give insights into reducing the ecological footprint of packaging and shares her opinion on where we stand in achieving a circular economy on a global scale.

Kroenert‘s Recycling Policy and Circular Economy Solutions

From the office to the Technology Centre, it is Kroenert‘s policy that all employees must separate all waste by category. In addition, the company’s professional disposal partners take care of the recycling process in terms of chemical waste and solvents.

For their customers, Kroenert has circular solutions at hand: via its machines‘ process optimization, the drying time can be decreased by half which results in speed and energy efficiency. With recyclable monomer and paper packaging growing in importance, Kroenert’s clients face the challenge that paper absorbs more water compared to plastics. The company is addressing this with new machines and retrofit projects that aim to shorten the drying process. Not to forget, the overdried paper must be moistened again afterwards.

Go Circular: Teamwork Makes The Dream Work

To establish industry-ready operations with the new materials as well as provide custom-fit line solutions, teamwork and different perspectives are required. That is why Kroenert joins forces with its customers and chemical partners in development projects, sharing its knowledge about process engineering. One of their efforts seeks to structure paper packaging in such a way that the necessary barrier properties are included while the recyclability rate is still high.  As a machine manufacturer, Kroenert strives to find solutions that enable customers to subsequently process such papers on their machines, even taking into account temperature, UV, oxygen, acid or moisture barriers.

Conclusion: International Regulation Must Come into Effect

As more customers are becoming environment-conscious day by day, so are alternative packaging materials such as those made of paper highly sought after. This in turn also leads to a rethinking on the part of the packaging processing companies and often to new regulatory requirements at the legal level. Ms. Glawe gives an example: Japanese manufacturers are obliged to produce paper packaging wherever it can be used. Furthermore, Japanese companies have to inform the public about their overall production balances when they acquire a new machine. It’s therefore no surprise that specific data on the CO2 footprint of Kroenert’s systems was requested for the first time from Japan-based clients.

In Germany, it is the new Packaging Act that is considered to be a stepping stone to a circular economy. However, the lack of functioning disposal infrastructure in other parts of the world still affects the environment negatively. In the eyes of Andrea Glawe, local consumers must be educated about the alarming waste problem and various ways to deal with it, as she concludes:

“In order to realise the potential, ambitious, internationally harmonised regulation would be desirable. Because when carelessly discarded waste ends up in the world’s oceans via rivers, it is usually not the polluter countries that bear the consequences. It is an international problem whose solution requires global approaches in terms of both technology and regulation.“

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