Industrial analyzers of the ITIS Program, FIRDI:

Huang, Chiu-Hsiang

The Dupont Award for Packaging Innovation is an award for encouraging packaging operators’ innovation in packaging materials, packing technologies and services and the oldest international competition of the industry, which gathers a number of cross-field innovative achievements of multiple regions and markets and provides a platform for the operators to communicate with and learn from each other. The 2010 Dupont Award for Packaging Innovation follows the main axis of breakthrough in key packaging technologies, development of packaging innovation as well as the reduction of water of packaging materials and production costs, which are also key points for operators of packaging, food and retail industries in recent years to meet the demands of consumers and to cooperate for seeking salutations. It can be obviously observed from the Dupont Award for Packaging Innovation in recent years that packaging operators have made great progress in packaging innovation, waste reduction and food preservation, etc., this article is intended to analyze the development trend of global food packaging through study of winners of the 2010 Dupont Award for Packaging Innovation.

Packaging Technologies with Low Energy Consumption and Low Production Cost

Aluminum can used as containers of beer, carbonated beverages or high-end beverages is one kind of metal tins. According to statistics of Waste Reduction Model (WARM), Environmental Protection Agency, US, energy consumption can be reduced by using recycled aluminum as substitute of pure aluminum, and because the physical features of aluminum will not be impacted during recycling, many packaging operators are devoted to the recycling and reuse of aluminum. Some American packaging company has developed the Coli to can (C2C) product line for dynamic forming of aluminum cans, which adopts about 50% recycled aluminum cans and the produced aluminum cans can be 100% recycled and reused. In addition, products produced on the C2C line are generally 40% lighter than ordinary cans, showing the advantage of low cost and low energy consumption.

Innovative Plant Sources-Recyclable Green Packaging Materials

Degradable plastics has been popular once, however, the market grows slowly in recent 10 years, which is mainly because of high prices and defects of some packaging materials, which limit the development of its degradable plastics in the Niche market. With the active promotion of large retailers (such as Wal-mart) and major food producers recently, the supply of degradable plastics has shown the trend of growth. According to the estimation of Package Company, the growth rate of degradable plastics in the US is about 17%, and the market demand will achieve 15 million tons by 2014, the development of relevant packaging materials in the future worth paying attention to.

In 2009, Coca-Cola Company launched the world’s first plastic bottle with plant materials (containing 30% sugar and honey), and it is estimated that the company will produce 2 billion PET bottles by 2010. The ultimate goal of Coca-Cola is to produce recyclable plastic bottles from nonedible food materials and plant waste, such as wood chips and straw (Note: according to Business  Week, issue 1204, 1999, Far Eastern New Century Corporation is an important partner of Coca-Cola for the recycling of PET bottle materials). Besides Coca-Cola who has won the Dupont Award for Packaging Innovation, Pepsi Cola has also won the award for having developed the world’s first biodegradable leisure food packaging. Today, PLA is one of the dominant materials on the market of degradable plastics, with the improvement of the availability and functionality of PLA, the PLA content in Pepsi Cola’ leisure food packages have been increased from 30% before to 100% today, and compostable adhesives and internal coatings are also used to allow the packages to be completed degraded within 2 weeks.

Convenient Packages Capable of Preservation

Convenience of packages of meat products in a factor regarded by consumers, the Italian packaging company Sealed Air has upgraded the traditional shrink wrap packages into vacuum packages, which can be applied to more processed meat products, fresh meat products and cheese, etc. due to fine contractility, toughness, airtightness and oxygen insulation. In addition, they are easily opened and provided with cut-proof label design, which can reduce the risk for the food to be contaminated. Furthermore, the mist-resistant shrink wrap packages with air conditioning function developed by the same company can maintain the freshness and color of the contents and reduce the waste of expired food, and the design of skin packaging for meat products reduces the size of the packaging, and thus saves the cost of transportation and can effectively utilize the display space of retailers.

Domestic Operators have gradually kept up with the International Packaging Trend

Taiwan’s food packaging industry has been following the international development trend, according to the statistics of the FIRDI during 2008-2009, metal cans take up 1/10 of beverage packages in Taiwan, and it is estimated by recyclers that the deprived waste achieved about 25,000 tons per year. According to the estimation of the Environmental Protection Administration, Executive Yuan, 4.6 billion PET bottles are consumed in Taiwan per year, from which 96,000 tons of waste can be recycled. Considering the people’s concern about the sustainable development of the environment and according to the planning of enterprises to make contribution to the environmental protection of the planet, some domestic beverage operators have reduced the weight of PET bottles by over 40%, and due to the wave-structure design of bottles that can improve the resistance to pressure of bottles, the consumption of plastic can be saved by 40% and the CO2 emission can be reduced by 55,000 tons at the same time. This shows that the difference between the domestic beverage operators and foreign operators in term of development of lightweight packaging has been reduced, while the sources and degradability of packaged contents should be further improved.

Moreover, the Environmental Protection Administration, Executive Yuan has stipulated that since July 2010, the plastic trays and packages in retail marketplaces must be reduced by over 30%, which has stimulated new business opportunities for PLA and paper containers and other green packages. Domestic consumers can contact PLA-containing packages in the catering industry and retail industry, however, as limited by crucial issued like production prices and application of packaging products, this kind of packaging material is still seldom used as packaging of processed food.