By Alec Italiano, contributing writer
Rising oil prices partnered with breakthroughs in printing suggest eco-friendly food packaging may replace PET
Eco-friendly packages are in demand. Over the years, consumers have taken notice to the detrimental effects on the environment of certain substances that do not recycle well. Some of these materials even have a direct effect on human health. Because of this paradigm shift in consumer behavior, materials not normally used in the packaging of food are being reintroduced to the market. A big one in particular is paperboard.
The price of oil is projected to continue escalating over the next five years. This will negatively impact the production of petroleum-based materials that the food packaging industry has become accustomed to using. This, along with advancements in digital printing, has made it more feasible and cost-effective to print on heavy weight and glossy materials. These factors are the reason paperboard is gaining popularity and functionality in food packaging.
For many years, Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastics were the staple material for packaging liquids. However, recent breakthroughs in digital diecutting and finishing have introduced magnetized coatings for packaging closures. This development offers a much more eco-friendly alternative to PET due to its recyclability.
The new options may be more expensive in the short-run because of the time it will take to update the workflow. However, in the long-run, paperboard and magnetic coatings will ultimately save money after the process becomes streamlined and the price of oil continues to rise. Digital printing ran into the same problem when it was first being introduced to the industry. Now, integrated workflows that incorporate all aspects of the value chain are the norm in commercial label printing.
These new eco-friendly, state-of-the-art packaging and label printing solutions are more accessible than ever. This allows packaging designers to increase their ability to create custom, short-run jobs without their pocketbooks taking a hit. Paperboard is hitting its stride at the right time as sub-par economic conditions and rising oil prices may push oil-based packaging products to the back seat.
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