Moving from a linear to a circular packaging industry
Packaging plays an essential role in our lives today, contributing to our society's well-being by addressing major global challenges. Especially plastic packaging has gained popularity over the last 50 years as it combines high performance with low cost. But plastic packaging also comes with major challenges as it enters a failing linear economic system based on the principle “take-make-use-dispose.”
To meet today’s consumption patterns, we would already need three planets in the developed world, but we only have one.
That is, why it's not only about improving existing packaging solutions but to transfer packaging to a new way of management - away from a linear towards a circular model, that decouples economic development from using finite resources, allowing for wellbeing while respecting the natural boundaries of our planet. By moving from a linear to a circular model, the amount of resources entering the system is limited, their utilization along the value chain is maximized and the generation of waste is stopped.
A Circular Economy is based on the three principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.
In general, the Circular Economy distinguishes two different cycles: the biosphere and the technosphere. The biosphere covers consumables like biologically based materials e.g. food, wood or cotton that are designed to be fed back into the system through decomposition processes. In other words, it regenerates living systems that provide renewable resources. The technosphere, referring to durables, includes building service products, components and materials which are recovered and restored through strategies including: reuse, repair, remanufacture, refurbish or recycling.
The overall goal is to create closed and regenerative loops of materials. For the packaging industry this translates into a “Reduce – Reuse - Recycle" -approach calling for new packaging structures that increase utilization rates and recyclability of materials.
Circular business models clearly offer new forms of value creation with significant economic potential. As a global leading manufacturer of printing inks for packaging applications and labels, Siegwerk is making every effort to actively drive the transformation towards a circular packaging industry by providing special inks and coatings that enable the development of new circular packaging solutions.
Packaging has been and will be part of our life. But our linear economy is creating too much waste and forecasts show, it will even get worse. The need to rethink packaging is becoming more urgent than ever.
Inks and varnishes play an important enabling role in a Circular Economy. Their technical functionalities can actively support the reduction, reuse and recycling of packaging.