Food packaging redesign in the circular economy Workshop

On Monday 14th October 2019 during the international expo Foodctech five associations (Association of the Greek Manufacturers of Packaging & Materials, Hellenic Association of food scientists and technologists, Federation of Hellenic food industries, Sevitel, Sevek ) organized the training workshop: Redesigning Food Packaging in the Circular Economy.

Coordinated by Ms Efi Tritopoulou (General Manager CITIPOST) and Elisa Panagiotidou (Researcher and Strategic Advisor for the Circular Economy), the workshop covered many interesting issues; among them, the new legislative framework regarding disposable plastics, organized retail and packaging changes in the context of sustainable development, brands, branding & sustainability, and how to create a waste-free future through innovation in packaging. In addition, the seminars also covered the following issues: "Smart Packaging for the Cold Supply Chain" as well as "Practical Solutions and Energy Saving Techniques", which were under the auspices of the Greek Cold Storage & Logistics Association.

The challenges posed by the global requirement for sustainable development, the implementation of the circular economy, as well as the new framework regarding disposable plastics were discussed in detail during the workshop. Regarding the new legislative framework for disposable plastics, Ms Argyro Remoundou, representative of the Hellenic Recycling Agency, referred to the European Directive 2019/904, which aims to prevent and reduce marine pollution, but also to promote the transition to a circular economy. She also referred to Law 2939/2001 regarding the obligations of the producer, as well as to the extended liability programs, as described by the EU Directive 2008/98.

Mr Ermis Panagiotopoulos, Sustainability Director of the EFBW (European Federation of Bottled Waters), added that the EU is moving at a very fast pace and has already set a target of 77% for the collection of soft drink bottles by the year 2025 and 90% by the year 2029. Within this context, European bottlers are already considering turning towards the circular economy and have taken this initiative very early on, as they consider packaging as valuable resource rather than waste. However, they point out that in order to solve the recycling problem, separate material collection infrastructures need to be put in place, as well as a guarantee system that will involve the consumer to the whole process.

Of particular interest was the presentation by Lefteris Kioses, Chief Executive Officer- Reasearch Institute of Retail Consumer Goods, IELKA, who spoke about organized retail and packaging changes in the context of sustainable development. Mr Kioses noted that according to a study by the institute, 42% of Greek consumers stated that they were willing to spend more money for products with reduced environmental footprint and for products with environmentally friendly packaging.

On the same wavelength, Mr. Dimosthenis Brousalis of DASC branding, Branding and Communication Consultant in his talk on "Brands, Branding and Sustainability" noted that modern consumers –especially millennials– are choosing "transparent" brands. He also highlighted that today, 90% of CEOs consider sustainability the cornerstone of success, while the market is seeing a burgeoning entrepreneurial activity regarding eco-friendly products, applications and services aimed at sustainability.

Dr Pascalis Kastanas.(Nestle Region Manufacturing & Packaging Manager) presented Nestle global commitment on Plastic and Circular Economy and then analyzed succdesfull triries from the Greek Mraket: PET bottle redesign, cup (HDPE), PE collation shrink film and WAL (ΒΟΡΡ) of the mineral water bottle Korpi.

Then Mrs. C. Iliadou (Deutsch-Grieschische Industrie- und Handelskammer) analyzed the obligations of the Greek manufactures to comply according to the new Verpackungsgesetz went into force on 1/1/2019. The new German packaging law obliges the manufactures of packaging good to enter LUCID system and pay the nesseecary fees, otherwise penalties stand between € 10.000-200.000.

Mrs. H. Xirou representing EUNOMIA (Eunomia Research & Consulting Ltd, Head of South East Europe) analysed the revised European legilastion for packaging waste and SUP, the existing packaging fee modulation around Europe and finally the packaging structures alternatives.

Finally, industry experts respented Thrace Plastics (ΒV, Kallis) and Sealed-air Greece (S. Tsalapatis) presented succefull examples of redesigned food packaging structures introduced successfully in the European and international market.

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