On March 8-9, 2017 the design agency Pacoon hosted their second conference on sustainable packaging, SOLPACK 2.0, in Munich, Germany. More than 100 experts from the packaging industry, consulting agencies, recycling businesses, food manufacturers, and retailers discussed sustainable packaging solutions. Packaging recycling, bio-based and biodegradable plastics, as well as alternative fiber-based packaging materials were among the most intensely discussed topics.

The technical possibilities of packaging recycling as well as the limitations of the current collection and sorting system were presented by Klaus Bertmann from Lobbe Recycling, Germany, and further explained during a podium discussion with four recycling experts. In Germany, just under 50% of the collected and sorted packaging material is recycled. Bertmann identified five criteria leading to improved and simplified sorting and recycling processes: (i) Use of monomaterials, (ii) position stability of the packaging item on the conveyor belt, (iii) light colors, (iv) standardization of materials, and (v) plain coatings and labels. However, recycled plastics from mixed waste sources are not legally allowed to be used in food contact materials. Martin Werner from Werner & Merz, Germany, explained the establishment of a recycling initiative for the bottles of cleaning agents.

The presentations on bioplastics covered bio-based materials as well as biodegradable and compostable plastics, which are already broadly used for the packaging of foods. Novel developments, applications, and trends based on e.g. polylactide and cellulose were presented by several speakers.

New fiber-based packaging materials using grass and agricultural waste were introduced by Uwe D’Agnone from Creapaper GmbH, Germany, and Peter van Rosmalen from Paperwise, the Netherlands, respectively. D’Agnone explained how grass from local sources can be used in existing paper mills to produce sustainable paper and cardboard packaging by using up to 50% grass instead of wood fibers.

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Pacoon AG (March 8-9, 2017). “SOLPACK 2.0.”