Packaging serves to carry and protect a product during transportation and storage. Information about the contents, origin, date of manufacture, delivery address as well as other relevant data can be gathered from the packaging. Durability and protection are key quality parameters whilst environmental conditions such as relative humidity and temperature also affect performance. New consumer demands on packaging include more product information, improved safety and prolonged shelf life.
State of the Art 2012
Wood and fibre-based packaging materials provide protection for a wide range of products ranging from food and liquid to consumer goods and transportation pallets; both recycled and virgin fibres are used. Packaging materials and components based on new generation biobased polymers are at pilot phase or even on the market. Extensive use of renewable materials improves the sustainability of distribution systems.
Expected achievements by 2020
Technologies have been developed that significantly reduce raw material consumption and improve the competitiveness of forest-based packaging materials. Fibre-based packaging solutions have been developed that have improved moisture resistance and barrier properties. New sensor systems give information about the origin, shelf life and safety of the product. Integrated information systems provide information about the product or connect the client to the manufacturer’s website for further instructions. The same information system can also connect to a consumer’s domestic system (for instance, internet-connected fridges) and manage storage and purchases based on best before dates.
Required Research and Innovation Activities
A. Enhance the material efficiency of packaging with, for example, new lightweight construction approaches.
B. Improve the performance of packages and wood- or fibre-based packaging materials, not limited to mechanical properties but including, for example, resistance to moisture and microbial contamination, in particular prevention of microbial activity in food packages with the help of shielding gases or active substances.
C. Integrate sensor and information systems in packaging materials – printing applications using functional inks and tags carrying anticounterfeiting information.
D. Develop tools to safeguard the reliability and usefulness of embedded information systems in different packaging chains and to monitor the history and performance of different packaging solutions.
E. Enhance surface properties, for example, for self-cleaning or automatic surface correction and release of active substances using capsulated materials.
F. Develop and establish design criteria to ensure the full recyclability of packaging materials, in particular barrier layers and embedded electronics.
G. Develop concepts and upscaling to production scale for the manufacture of 100% biobased packaging.