It is time for the revolution
Rest assured, I have not become an anarchist or extremist. My title is simply inspired by the interview I had during my visit to ALL4PACK Emballages Paris with Guillaume Schaeffer, Director of the event and Fabrice Peltier, author of the excellent book "The Packaging Revolution"*. Together, we talked about trends and new technologies that are making the packaging industry more sustainable. But also, I was given a better understanding of the necessity of the current revolution that the industry is experiencing. Here are some of the highlights of our chat.
What are the current trends in broad outline?
According to Fabrice Peltier "Today, we are really in the packaging revolution. Four years ago, legislation only set targets for the industry to achieve. Today, however, the legislator imposes fixed rules and even places certain bans. We can really see big shifts in the industry and see solutions appearing, for example in paper or cardboard. We can also see plastics being modified to make them more recyclable and to make them fit into a circularity system.
The big revolution is the change in model and we're getting to multi-use packaging."
Is the consumer difficult to educate?
F.P.: "It's not easy to get the consumer to move out of goodwill. Hence the usefulness and necessity of legislation. There are two ways to change habits: by a disaster or by law. Let's take the pandemic as an example, it brought new behaviors such as the generalization of online meetings instead of face-to-face meetings. This was the boom of telecommuting. Let's think of another example with the seatbelt. It's a necessary attribute, but to make it a part of everyday life, it had to be made mandatory and legislated. For packaging, it's the same problem. Goodwill is not enough; we need to pass binding laws.”
G.S.: "I would also add that in addition to the law, it is also necessary for the actors to set a good example. Within the framework of ALL4PACK Emballages Paris, we also wanted to participate by showing this example. The offer of the exhibition shows the evolution of the sector and presents sustainable solutions and startups with new ideas. And furthermore, we have made efforts by taking concrete steps: for example, dematerializing badges for visitors, inviting exhibitors to recycle their cardboard badge holders and many others."
Change is also the result of the evolution of commerce
F.P.: "When you think about it, the packaging industry is also evolving because of the evolution of commerce. With the advent of drive-throughs, click & collect systems, and deliveries, the 'beautiful' packaging designed to attract attention on the supermarket shelves is no longer relevant. The industry and supply chain can switch to less material-intensive containers intended for bulk or delivery."
G.F.: "Again, at this year's show, we were able to count on the presence of solutions from startups that are moving in this direction. Bulk is a trend, but also the reuse of packaging and packaging that are used for several deliveries for example."
A word on digitalization: stop the gimmick!
F.P.: "Packaging has three main functions: it must preserve the integrity of the content, it is used to transport the product, and as required by law, it is also used to inform the consumer. It's clear that if packaging were to disappear from the chain in some way, consumers could rely on digital solutions to get informed. But we must remember that from a digital point of view, gimmicks are useless! Today we see agencies or brands very proud to announce that via augmented reality or a QR code, you have the opportunity to visit factories or see films on the production of the product. The question is whether the opening rate is interesting and whether the consumer really uses it. On the other hand, digitalization can be useful if it allows the consumer to have additional services. Imagine that this digitalization helps you identify products containing allergens that you want to avoid, imagine a system that makes you open a menu or an instruction manual on your cell phone. This is where we start to think about the interesting services offered by digitalization. Just remember that the gimmick is useless.”
* For the record, "The Packaging Revolution" is divided into two periods with respectively "The emergence of new solutions" and then "The experimentation of new solutions".
EmballagesPackagingAll4packFabrice PeltierGuillaume SchaefferCircularitéSustainabilityDurabilité