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15 Apr 2019

Reduce or eliminate packaging, what if it was possible?

The distribution channels for "bulk" products have become sources of inspiration for eco-innovation in sectors that go far beyond organic cereals in organic stores. Indeed, these distribution methods are much more advanced than they seem and their favourable ecobalance does not result from a "elimination" of packaging, but from the separation of the product preservation process into two stages: 1) from manufacturing to distribution, and 2) from the consumption cycle.

The first phase is based on high-capacity packaging with high storage performance, or at least ensuring that the product's qualities are maintained in the worst case of distribution/sale time (this may represent relatively long periods if it is a question of absorbing seasonal production).

The second phase is a short consumption cycle, it is therefore associated with containers that will perform the expected functions with regard to the characteristics of the product and the consumption pattern (immediate / delayed).

For perishable products not consumed immediately, the solutions developed for dry products will obviously not be appropriate. One of the answers will be to pack the products in primary packages that provide sealing functions against external contamination; these very basic packages will only provide the expected performance for the consumption cycle; for the rest, and in particular for the barrier functions or the retention of protective atmosphere gases, the advanced functions can be provided by gas barrier containers "over-packaging" a bulk of products packaged in a summary way.

Transferring all the technicality of packaging to recyclable or even reusable containers has consequences on the responsibilities involved in the value chain: packaging and preservation expertise will partly shift towards the distribution chain; not simple, therefore, but to be built to better meet environmental challenges.