Neil says..

Neil says..

Neil Farmer says environmental developments will aid the continual rise of the pouch packs …

Neil Says pouch1I was speaking at a seminar at Camden BRI, Chipping Campden, earlier in the year on Innovations in the Drinks Packaging market. The whole sector is now full of innovative new packs and after the economic downturn of 2008-2013 things are certainly starting to move again in terms of new developments. Nowhere is this statement truer than in the pouch sector. I have written before about the phenomenal growth of the pouch market which, according to recent figures from The Freedonia Group, will be worth $37.3 billion globally in 2018 and which is projected to rise at 6.2% annually. It is no surprise that the study identifies standing pouches as the pack with the best growth prospects.

I have long extolled the virtues of the standing pouch as one of the most important innovations to affect flexible packaging in recent years. However it has not been a smooth ride. I first evaluated the pack in the early 1980`s when the Capri Sun pouch was first introduced. It was not universally accepted and indeed market take up was initially small.

New Markets for Pouches

Fast-forward to 2015 and pouches seem to be ubiquitous. At the Drinks Packaging seminar I came across some outstanding pouch packs for Smirnoff Raspberry Sorbet, Parrot Bay Pin Colada, and Woo Woo Froktails, to name but three. And then there is the growth of the pouch for children`s snacks and drinks, pet food, household products and personal care and toiletries. New niche sectors are being created and this is likely to continue, as the statistics from Freedonia reveal. There are still concerns about the pack, in terms of environmental performance. It is true that high performance laminates have improved the pouch pack`s image and, with longer shelf lives, have opened up new markets. Aesthetic appeal, convenience and added value feature such as spouts and handles have also contributed to its success. But still problems persist over the issue of recyclability.

I was therefore interested recently to learn about an initiative which could solve some of the problems in this respect. Flexible Laminate Materials-Recycling Initiatives It was announced earlier in the year that Nestle UK and Ireland in conjunction with Coca-Cola Enterprises, Tesco, SITA UK and LRS Consultancy, have secured financial backing from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to evaluate the possibilities of collecting flexible laminate materials with aluminium content. The concept, in simple terms, is that the plastics can be extracted and converted into fuel and the aluminium recycled. This is not the only initiative in this important area. Enval is an environmental services company focused on providing specialist solutions and addressing environmental and regulatory challenges to deliver value from waste.

The company is a spin-out of the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Cambridge. One of Enval`s main areas of expertise is the recycling of laminated packaging waste. Enval`s technology is said to “extract commercially usable aluminium, oil and gas from laminated packaging waste such as drink cartons, food pouches and toothpaste tubes, allowing the waste to be recycled in an economically viable way”. The reference to “economically viable way” is important because this is a factor which has dogged some recycling operations in recent times. Enval has gained many numerous awards and accolades in recent years and it`s approach to recycling genuinely looks like a viable alternative to the existing methods for disposal of laminate waste. If this indeed proves to be the case, one of the limitations to the growth in the market for pouch packs might have been overcome. The company has substantial investors who should provide solid financial backing, allowing it to achieve real progress in its recycling programme.

Global Market Prospects

I conclude with the standing pouch, a packaging icon, and its prospects in the global market. The emerging markets are seen as the most likely territories for fastest growth. Rising disposable income and investment in manufacturing equipment will fuel demand in these countries, particularly China and other parts of Asia. In Japan it was estimated in 2012 that upwards of 2.0 billion pouches were produced per year. The Japanese have always embraced innovations in packaging materials in a big way. As for the pouch pack, there is much more to come. Watch this space.

Stephanie Cornwall
Stephanie Cornwall