The student congress held in Berlin, 6-7th November 2018 and organized by Der Grune Punk, German Packaging Intitute and partnership with DIN (Deutches Institut fur Normung), German Institute for Strandarization. It was the second student congress that they held with this theme. The aim of this congress is to regularly convene students of packaging technology and practitioners from all areas of the value added chain. For this year, the topic of the seminar is about “Making Packaging Future Proof – Closing the Loop”. This congress did some discussions, workshops and presentations that focus on future issues, trends and best practice in packaging design.
On first day of the congress, we got some explanation that given by many experts. There are “Packaging, environment, future – we need a global approach” that explained by Dr. Corinna Franke from Wöller Managing Director, Agency for Business & Economic Development, “Closing the loop – Thinking innovations along the value chain”, that explained by Christina Schulz from Project Manager Sustainability, Quality & Environment, Der Grüne Punkt-Duales System Deutschland GmbH, ”Paper, cardboard, paperboard – a winner in the plastics debate?” that explained by Dr. Marek Hauptmann, from Steinbeis Hochschule Berlin, Dresden, and “Bioplastics versus fossil-based plastics-differences and similarities with regard to circular economy”, that explained by Dr. Harald Käb, narocon.
After we got some explanation, we also participated in some discussion that called “World Cafe”. It deal with important questions concerning the sustainability of packaging. All student in this congress became participants for this section. The students were divided into 6 groups randomly from various universities. Participants had the opportunity to contribute their own thoughts and questions on the topic and to discuss problems and approaches to solutions. Topics of the “World Café” are:
- From “unpacked” to “double and triple” – what does the consumer expect from packaging today?
- Plastic for packaging – old makes new today. What are the alternatives to using primary plastic? Has the paradigm shift arrived at the universities?
- From the use of recycled materials to bioplastics – do we have to break new ground in packaging design? If so, which ones?
- From wild garbage to Plastic Ocean – plastic is the focus. Who is responsible – consumers, industry or trade? What solutions are there?
- Closed loop – designing packaging according to the closed loop concept. Wish or reality during your studies? Which materials are in focus? What role do plastics play?
- Sustainable packaging design – can it be used to develop new markets? If so, how and with what consequences?
After all, from the explanation and discussion that we got. At the end of the congress, Winfried Batzke and Helmut Schmitz as event guides continued with summarizing the key points of the congress that day.
On second day of the congress, it was continued presentation by many experts too. There are “Marine Litter, Plastics and a University in Magdeburg”, that explained by Prof. Dr. Gilian Gerke, Hochschule Magdeburg, “Closing the loop for Packaging” that explained by Dr. Harald Hauke, ARA, and by Alexandra Lange from CITEO, “Indonesia 2018 – Packaging, Infrastructure, Recycling”, that explained by Assc. Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Wahyu Supartono from Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), Yogyakarta, Indonesia, “Managing Sustainable Packaging-Insights from the EU Perspective”, by Jana from Europen and the last is about “Plastics in the environment-developing effective counter measures“ that explained by Dr. Helge Wendenburg. t was very informative when all speakers shared about packaging issues based on their experience in their workplace or in their country.
In the end of the congress, we also got a workshop. Workshop leaders are experts from different sectors of industry and organizations representing part of the value chain. They present a specific topic about future packaging. Representatives from industry and NGOs provide insight into their strategies on the subject of packaging. The workshop leader also give all the student opportunity to have discussions with them. For this workshop, I had the opportunity to find out about packaging strategies at Henkel, cleaning products companies in Germany. The pilot projects with Social Plastic are underlining Henkel’s long-lasting commitment for sustainability, also in the field of packaging. Recently, Henkel introduced its new packaging strategy. Together with its partners along the value chain, Henkel wants to promote sustainable development. Therefore, the company defined specific initiatives for the three key phases of a circular value chain: Materials from sustainable sources, smart packaging design, closing the loop. Additionally, Henkel has set itself ambitious targets: By 2025, 100 percent of the packaging will be recyclable, reusable or compostable. Within the same timeframe, Henkel aims to use 35 percent recycled plastic for its consumer goods products in Europe.
So, from this congress. We got a lot of new knowledge about packaging. Packaging materials must come from recyclable and renewable sources. This means using recycled materials, materials that not contain hazardous chemicals or carcinogens, and ensuring that packaging materials can be decomposed or recycled must be prioritized. Avoid waste wherever possible. This includes simplifying packaging so that it is leaner and requires less material and makes plant operations more efficient. We can conclude that sustainable packaging has some criteria. there are beneficial, safe & healthy for individuals and communities throughout its life cycle; Meets market criteria for performance and cost; sourced, manufactured, transported, and recycled using renewable energy; Optimizes the use of renewable or recycled source materials; manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices; made from materials healthy throughout the life cycle; physically designed to optimize materials and energy; and effectively recovered and utilized in biological or industrial closed loop cycles. In summary, sustainable packaging is a product that is friendly to the environment, socially acceptable and economically appealing for both manufacturer and user.
By: Rahmania Nur Afiah