Packaging manufacturer Huhtamaki had the good fortune to be nominated for two separate Sustainability Awards this year. So, following on from our interview with the company about the first of these, Push Tab loop, we spoke with it again to learn more about the other nominee – a solution that aims to make tube packaging more sustainable.

Congratulations on being selected by the international judging panel as a Sustainability Awards 2020 finalist! Could you please introduce your successful entry and what’s innovative about it?

Today the majority of laminated tubes (two-thirds in Europe, and even more throughout the rest of the world) are made from foil containing laminates (ABL) which are not recyclable in existing recycling streams and do not fulfil the DFR guidelines.

The rest is mostly made from plastic barrier laminates, with gauges ranging from 300 μm to 400 μm. This new laminate PBL 240/9 offers a significant gauge and therefore material use reduction together with an EVOH content of only 5%, thus fulfilling the DFR guidelines.

What are the environmental challenges in packaging that your entry addresses, and what impact do you hope it will make?

Huhtamaki tube laminate PBL 240/9 is a PE-based tube laminate offering a barrier solution for tubes without the use of foil. With only 5% EVOH, it complies with the DFR guidelines. In addition, it offers a significant material reduction compared with today’s standard laminates – 20% for the laminate. With this, it fulfills two of the key topics of sustainability: reduce and recycle.

The laminate comes with good barrier properties, as well as no significant loss in haptical appearance compared with today’s standards.

I’d like to ask you about the broader picture beyond your successful entry. ‘Sustainability’ in packaging is multi-dimensional – both in terms of objectives and challenges. Could you comment on the most important roadblocks you identify from your position in the value chain, and the kinds of solutions you would like to see addressing them (e.g. areas of technological innovation, collaboration, regulation)?

To deliver innovations that drive sustainability and circularity, we believe that collaboration across the value chain, including consumers and policymakers, is key. Only together can we deliver a functioning circular economy. The value chain understands its consumers and their needs and, is great at delivering solutions.

Policymakers can speed up the innovation process by ensuring the industry has the space to continue to innovate by using evidence-based policymaking. Collaboration is also needed in removing some of the current roadblocks in waste management, for example by harmonising collection and recycling systems, in order to achieve a waste management and recycling superhighway for the 21st century.+