Although environmental awareness is increasing among the general public, Greenpeace reports that around 12.7 million tons of plastic waste still end up in the oceans each year, with rising tendency.
At the same time, however, regulatory changes, initiatives and altering consumer behaviour are leading to increased efforts towards more sustainable packaging and environmentally friendly manufacturing processes. Bosch Packaging Technology recognized the necessity for these developments early on and launched the first sealed paper packaging along with a corresponding machine concept as early as 2016. What’s more, the company has been contributing its expertise in various consortia for many years. One of them is EIT Food, Europe’s leading food innovation initiative, that is aiming to make the food system more sustainable, healthy and trusted by consumers.
Holistic approach along the value chain
As one of around 50 partners from the fields of innovation, education and entrepreneurship, Bosch Packaging Technology has been active in EIT Food since its establishment in 2017. The innovation initiative brings together players from each area of innovation, education and entrepreneurship, thus creating a shared vision and agenda for the future of food. Bosch Packaging Technology is one of the few mechanical engineering companies involved and plays an important role in transferring the developed materials and packaging styles to real-life production. "What use is sustainable packaging, however sophisticated it may be, if it cannot be processed or filled on appropriate machines economically and with the necessary output," said Matthias Klauser, project leader and sustainability expert at Bosch Packaging Technology. "At EIT Food, we are involved in the early innovation and product development phase and contribute our experience to this holistic approach along the value chain".
"inPaper": paper-based trays for confectionery and refrigerated products
The EIT Food partners are working in various projects alongside start-ups and innovation leaders to develop new concepts for a more sustainable food industry. A closer look at refrigerated shelves or into confectionery departments of supermarkets shows that paper-based packaging has the potential of standing out from competing products. The EIT Food project “inPaper” led by Matthias Klauser is developing paper-based trays for confectionery and refrigerated products, which meet all barrier requirements while significantly reducing the use of fossil raw materials compared to conventional packaging solutions. The concept phase has already been completed and the first consumer surveys have been carried out. Currently, the project partners are working on technically implementing the requirements of manufacturers, retailers and consumers.
Digitization: promising prospects for sustainability
In parallel, Bosch Packaging Technology is working on a machine for three dimensional paper forming. Apart from the "inPaper" project, the company is involved in education and digitization within EIT Food. According to Matthias Klauser, the combination of sustainability and industry 4.0 shows great potential: "Digitization opens up completely new possibilities for making packaging production and processing more sustainable," said Klauser. "For instance, various types of waste can be identified and eliminated more quickly along the value chain, or rejects can be reduced thanks to more efficient operator guidance and faster reaction times. In the long term, this will not only save costs, but also lower the environmental impact.”