In Sweden the packaging industry strives to be at the forefront which, among other things, entails a significant focus on sustainable development. For example, Swedish packaging is increasingly manufactured from bio-based materials which have a lower climate impact and require ever decreasing materials during production. Swedish packaging development has a high level of ambition and aims to be a role model and then it is important to be a part of the international arena and present Swedish competence and new innovations. This was also the purpose of participation in the packaging exhibition Tokyo Pack in Japan which attracted approximately 65,000 persons last week.
“I believe that we can make significant contributions to biomaterials for packaging. There was still a lot of plastic at the exhibition, where 99 per cent were Japanese. When they say that they are environmentally friendly it is because they use thinner or less plastic in packaging. Unfortunately very few use fossil-free packaging materials,” says Peter Edberg, project manager at Paper Province, who was on-site.
Focus on other innovations
The Ambassador of Sweden to Japan, Magnus Robach, held an inaugural speech at Tokyo Pack in which he mentioned the similarities between Sweden and Japan and the major strengths of both countries within the packaging area. In particular innovation capacity and raw materials.
However, an interesting difference between our packaging and how we work with them purely in terms of innovation is that in Sweden we focus more on the entirety with the environment and social aspects, while the Japanese concentrate on the utilisation.
“They showed many exciting innovations with new opportunities of connecting the packaging with the digital world, among other things with QR codes. You can also open the Japanese packaging in new smart ways,” says Peter.
“It was also found that in Japan smaller packaging is more common than in Sweden. Crisp bags weigh approximately 40-80 grams. In Sweden the bags which are marketed are often 200-300 grams,” he says.
Helén Williams at Karlstad University describes this phenomenon as the Japanese exhibitors’ response to the issue of lower food waste.
“The innovations we saw at the exhibition were often of a social nature, but without links to resource-saving and a holistic approach, where lower food waste is the single most important function of the packaging. But they still handle the issue of food waste by their efforts to manufacture packaging in small sizes,” she says.
A Sweden day
During the exhibition there was an entire day of lectures from the Swedish participants.
“There we talked about different packaging solutions from Sweden which can contribute to sustainable development in various ways.” Helen Högberg from Kostym, Ulrik Karlsson from Mondi and Helén Williams from Karlstad University talked about everything from packaging design to the latest developments within flexography, and how packaging can be transformed from a culprit to a hero in the fight against food waste. Approximately 50 persons listened and asked questions.
It was an interesting and rewarding exhibition.
“Many new contacts were made, both within the Swedish delegation of 17 people, but primarily with people within the Japanese packaging industry,” says Peter.
The Swedish companies also included Packbridge, Innventia, Mid Sweden University, Innoscentia and Business Sweden.