Davide Garavaglia, President of the European Gravure Association (ERA)
From where and whereto in packaging production?
von Ansgar Wessendorf,
The importance of the industrial packaging manufacturing sector for modern consumer behaviour can hardly be underestimated. Its task is to provide consumers with safely packaged products that offer a long shelf life and provides all the necessary information. However, this is contrasted by constantly increasing demands with regard to sustainability through waste avoidance.
The packaging industry is meeting these demands, which are entirely justified in view of resource conservation and the energy crisis, with a variety of innovative approaches in all areas of the value chain. This also includes the establishment of functional collection and return structures in the sense of an effective circular economy.
Against this background, the editorial team of Flexo+Tief-Druck launched a market survey to highlight the packaging industry’s manifold approaches to increase sustainability and to get a realistic self-assessment of the industry.
Please read the answers of Davide Garavaglia, President of the European Gravure Association (ERA):
What can be done to correct the often negative image and the underestimated importance of packaging in order to achieve a more appropriate assessment by consumers and the state authorities?
Davide Garavaglia: There are two actions that in my opinion could help significantly. On one hand, industry members may improve their communication about packaging sustainability and make it clearer to consumers that any form of packaging is not necessarily unsustainable, if it’s handled properly by governments, institutions, manufacturers, converters, brand owners and consumers themselves. Associations like the ERA can really support all the actors in the value chain to communicate more effectively as an industry and not just as individual companies.
On the other hand, industry members should work together across the entire packaging supply chain to technically enhance the packaging sustainability solutions and to promote them to the market. Once again, associations like the ERA can provide a good platform to promote and enable these ways of collaboration.
What specific measures are you taking in your part of the value chain to promote the sustainability of packaging without compromising its functionality?
Davide Garavaglia: The European Rotogravure Association has been promoting many initiatives to assess and further enhance the sustainability of the gravure printing process. For example, the ERA has been supporting the effort to switch from the hexavalent chromium process for cylinder engraving to other, more sustainable techniques. More recently, we have started a collaboration with the University of Leipzig to conduct a survey about the sustainability of gravure printing, with very interesting results that we will publish soon for every interested reader.
According to the assessment of the relevant industry associations, the economic prospects of the industry are becoming increasingly gloomy, also in view of increasing supply difficulties and rising energy prices. How do you personally assess the future viability of the packaging industry?
Davide Garavaglia: Packaging is essential to our societies to support our way of living, therefore its growth will not stop, as long as the world’s population is continuing to increase and people are gradually moving into cities. However, packaging needs to evolve and consume less energy when being produced and recycled, because energy is possibly becoming even more expensive in the future and packaging has to stay competitive. In fact, many innovative packaging solutions that are being developed to support the sustainability pledges of the major brand owners may require more energy to be produced and recycled and this is something the industry must also take into account before switching to mass-scale production. Finding a solution to this problem is not easy at all, but if it’s not found, it would mean that either consumers will pay higher prices for sustainable packaging or manufacturing will have to be increasingly moved to those countries where energy prices have not been rising as much as in Europe.