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International research into sustainable packaging carried out by global packaging, product, and material test and inspection company Industrial Physics has found that almost half of the 255 global packaging professionals (49 %) surveyed said meeting testing standards was one the biggest challenges they faced in wider adoption of sustainable packaging materials.

The research goes on to reveal that almost three quarters of those surveyed (71 %) reported that they found quality control processes ‘significantly’ or ‘somewhat more difficult’ with sustainable packaging materials.

69 % of respondents cited ‘cost’ as the main supply chain challenge they face in the move to sustainable packaging. Global supply obstacles caused by the pandemic made sourcing more difficult and legacy issues remain, meaning numerous suppliers are often needed rather than one trusted provider. This places additional pressure on quality control processes and greater need for packaging integrity testing.

Full results are revealed in the Industrial Physics Sustainable Packaging Research Report just released.

Jim Neville, CEO at Industrial Physics, said: “Insights from our global network of technical experts provide manufacturers guidance to create innovative and sustainable packaging while ensuring the integrity of their brands and products by proper testing and inspection.”

He added: “Our research highlighted manufacturers face a range of risks. However, these risks can be identified and mitigated by partnering with a packaging testing and integrity solutions partner.”

The Sustainable Packaging Research Survey also revealed that respondents think that new standards (52.5 %) and new legislation/regulatory requirements (41.6 %) will have the most impact on sustainable packaging innovation over the next five years.

These findings come as no surprise to Industrial Physics, as Greg Wright, Global Vice President of Sales & Marketing, explains: “Sustainable packaging involves using completely new materials where there may not be test methods already established. Processes are constantly evolving and our expertise in packaging, product and material integrity testing means we can guide manufacturers through the transition to more sustainable packaging.”

The Survey found that most companies are actively seeking sustainable packaging solutions but, in doing so, they experience a range of additional challenges. These include optimizing material performance to protect goods (53 %), passing increased material costs onto the consumer (50 %), and ability to meet safety and testing standards (49 %).

“Our customers are trying to find the right standards and how to test for those standards,” says Joshua Miller a Product Manager at Industrial Physics. “We can really help customers shape their testing, such as giving them a better way to test a product that gives them better data and still meets internal standards.”

The research offers an insight into the future of sustainable packaging and explores adaptations that manufacturers, and the industry as a whole, will need to make in order to deliver innovation and implementation around sustainable packaging materials.

Sean Kohl, Global Line Product Director for Industrial Physics, adds: “This is what testing is for and why manufacturers must test. It all centers around the idea of being able to confirm that the physical properties, whether it be strength, puncture resistance, life prediction, recyclability, or whatever can meet the performance and durability standards.”

Findings show that paper, paperboard and fiberboard plant-based biodegradable flexible packaging, along with synthetic biodegradable packaging, are the most common materials being used to replace less sustainable alternatives like plastic, paper and foil packaging.

“A lot of new materials mean that we are dealing with limited established test methods,” says Nico Frankhuizen, Manager of Product Management at Industrial Physics. “So, if a customer comes to us thinking they may need a certain type of equipment or test, we may end up advising them that a different tool might be better.”

Results of the in-depth research involved organizations around the world, ranging in size to over £1bn turnover, and follows on the back of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and other legislation in UK, Europe and USA that imposes a tax on plastic packaging items manufactured, imported or imported filled, containing less than 30 % recycled plastic.

Industrial Physics offers a range of packaging, product, and material integrity testing solutions to food and beverage, flexible packaging, medical, pharmaceutical, and coatings markets. The company adopts a collaborative approach with customers to help them work through the challenges of moving to sustainable packaging.