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MACHINE BUILDING, FRAMEWORKS & SAFETY FEATURE


SAY ‘NO’ TO SINGLE USE PLASTICS! But what does this mean for packaging machinery?


Slowly, but surely, the world is waking up to the


devastation that plastic wreaks on our planet. But what does it mean for those designing and building packaging solutions and machinery in the future? Neil Beaumont of Lenze discusses the challenges and solutions available


undeniable; and it’s being driven by the public, leading businesses, manufacturers and retailers, as well as plastic reprocessor and packaging suppliers. In fact, The UK Plastics Pact brings together 42 businesses from across the entire plastics value chain to tackle plastic waste. These members are responsible for


T


hanks to Blue Planet II, the UK was submitted to images of a


mother whale carrying her dead baby calf, poisoned by her own milk that carried toxic plastic waste. Social media has been awash with images of a bird completely engulfed in a plastic bag, still alive but unable to fly. This is creating a demand on


manufacturers and supermarkets to address the very serious environmental issue of plastic. There is clearly a need for new packaging technologies – ones


With advancing technologies, coupled with the growth and development of sustainable materials, there really is no reason why packaging production lines can’t play their part in helping our planet become ‘Plastic Waste’ Free


over 80% of the plastic packaging on products sold through UK supermarkets.* With these companies all willing to make dramatic moves to reduce the use of plastic, designers, engineers and packaging machine builders all need to follow suit, or actually lead the way.


THE FUTURE OF THE PACKAGING PRODUCTION LINE In the future, packaging on the whole will be reduced in volume, be reusable or recyclable and/or degradable. This means massive packaging redesigns and, of course, a change in material. Product designers today have many


options open to them. Glass, along with metals like aluminium and steel, can be recycled indefinitely; and wood is also


“The UK Plastics Pact brings together 42 businesses from across the entire plastics value chain to tackle plastic waste... With these companies all willing to make dramatic moves to reduce the use of plastic, designers, engineers and packaging machine builders all need to follow suit”


that minimise waste and can work with sustainable materials. For decades though, plastic has been the material of choice for many designers, packaging companies and OEMs. It’s light, easily shaped, strong and inexpensive. It guards against contamination, varies in colour and touch and, above all else, lasts forever. The movement to reduce our reliance on the most durable of all materials is


easier to reuse and dispose of. While these products are usually more expensive, their durability makes some believe they’re worth the price. There are also new forms of


* a figure based on WRAP estimates by weights and market share, using Valpak data


biodegradable plastic that are made from renewable sources such as corn, milk protein or keratin from waste chicken feathers. All decompose at the end of their useful life or can be recycled. Alternatively, there are companies out





there researching the addition of additives that make normally non-biodegradable plastics, biodegrade.


MACHINE FLEXIBILITY It doesn’t end there, however. The actual packaging machinery must be able to cope with this shift and be flexible enough to work with a variety of materials. It’s a very interesting time, and here at Lenze we’re aiming to future-proof the packaging production line. Planning for the inevitable transfer towards sustainable resources is a reality that manufacturers need to address. By building bespoke machines and technology and fully immersing ourselves into our client’s needs, we’re already there. We offer highly adaptable systems that can handle all packaging solutions. In a world where demand for change is


obvious, the Lenze automation platform can easily deal with complex machine designs that ultimately improve packaging machine performance and reliability. Our technologies are modular, integrated and flexible which allow machine builders to manipulate the systems to adapt to change in materials. Another ecological benefit is energy efficiency and the provision of an energy usage monitor that allows operators to make informed operational decisions. With advancing technologies, coupled


with the growth and development of sustainable materials, there really is no reason why packaging production lines can’t play their part in helping our planet become ‘Plastic Waste’ Free.


Lenze www.lenze.com/en-gb


DESIGN SOLUTIONS | OCTOBER 2018 9


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