In 2022, the packaging industry will continue to focus more on sustainability. However, success will demand more cross-industry collaboration and transparency, predicts the Packaging Adhesives Division at Henkel Adhesive Technologies’ .
The challenges for the coming year were discussed by Henkel with manufacturers and other experts from across the packaging and consumer goods supply chain at the second Henkel Sustainability Days in late 2021. This forward-looking virtual conference brought together representatives from more than 900 companies from about 90 nations, including experts and insiders from across the industry. Participants included raw material suppliers, packaging manufacturers and OEMs, associations, retailers, and recyclers. They intensively discussed the opportunities and challenges associated with ambitious sustainability goals. “As a unique forum for the entire industry, our Sustainability Days helped with focusing on some of the key issues the industry will face in 2022 – and in setting the agenda for how we can work together as an industry to drive real change,” explains Brandi Schuster, Head of Market and Customer Activation for Packaging Adhesives at Henkel.
There will be new standards in the current year 2022: legislation around the world is becoming increasingly stringent, while many retailers are changing their business strategies to include their own recyclers and working to balance the demand for greater sustainability with the growing demand for packaging.
Tilo Quink, Global Head of Packaging Adhesives at Henkel, explains that these trends represent a paradigm shift: “Our Sustainability Days showed that the ‘new standard’ for packaging has already arrived. It is our responsibility as leading players in the value chain not only to see today’s packaging challenges, but also to deliver sustainable solutions that enable all downstream players – not just our direct customers – to remain competitive in the future.”
Holistic approaches needed
In 2022, he says, the industry will need to take a holistic perspective. There will be an increased focus on the circular economy and design for recycling. Equally important, however, are aspects that address CO2 reduction and dematerialization. Quink cautions against focusing too much on any one area: “We see a huge amount of energy being directed towards sustainability across the packaging industry, but it is important to avoid tunnel vision and to not see any one technology as the ultimate answer. In the European market, for example, there is a strong focus on recycling, while in the U.S. there is more focus on compostability and biodegradability. However, neither method offers an all-encompassing solution, and the two are not mutually exclusive. A fact-based assessment of all methods and their respective environmental impacts is critical.”
Achieving sustainability requires transparent certification and testing methods. Arne Jost, Senior Manager Circularity Assessment and Validation for Packaging Adhesives at Henkel, explains: “It is imperative as an industry to move in a direction that allows for more open and transparent procedures. If one part in the value chain fails, it impacts all of us – collaboration is the key to success. So, transparency also includes transparency for the consumer, who needs to be aware of the extent to which different types of packaging also need to be properly disposed of after use.”
Suppliers under obligation
Brand and packaging manufacturers who want to reduce the impact of their products on the environment as much as possible should expect the same from their suppliers. “As a leading supplier and partner to the packaging industry, we believe we play a critical role in helping our customers with these challenges – so, we challenge ourselves to become more sustainable with our products and processes,” Quink explains.”In 2022, brand and packaging manufacturers can and should expect to align their supply chains accordingly.” At Henkel, a long-standing strategic commitment to sustainability has already resulted in high-performance solutions that reduce environmental impact. These include new UV curing technologies with lower energy consumption, which are becoming more available and accessible thanks to the expansion of production capacity in Europe and new production facilities in the United States. In addition, Henkel is working to reduce the use of resources and waste. Henkel is also working to reduce resource consumption and waste through measures such as the delivery of liquid adhesives in bulk by tanker truck.