Plastic film packaging for paper hygiene products can be relied on protect the product and serve its purpose in a dependable way. This packaging is very efficient and the process is a stable one, but the market is changing. Increasingly, consumers are demanding alternatives to plastic film. At the same time, there is an unprecedented opportunity to broaden the range of paper hygiene products and packaging. The watchword here is to stand out. Sustainable packaging is opening up new opportunities.
Consumers' needs are continuing to evolve, along with the technical means to fulfill them in a highly efficient way. Top quality, beautiful design, reasonable price? Everything is possible. In all likelihood, the trend towards diversity will continue to grow in the paper hygiene products sector, too. Another aspect of this diversity is the sustainability movement. Consumers are increasingly demanding alternatives to plastic packaging. Even these needs can be met in a thoughtful and efficient way, too. Pursuing the notion of diversification even further, different qualities of products and packaging are already emerging, and these are opening up new opportunities. "Precision in terms of packaging and finishing that has never been seen before, as well as transformed processes, materials, and packaging types – these are the new starting points," says Oliver Rebstock, Managing Director of Optima Nonwovens. Doing away with plastic, which is what is frequently called for, also fits into this new diversity concept.
In North America and Europe in particular, consumers are looking at how their actions impact the environment and the climate. "At the moment, paper packaging is clearly in the lead in terms of alternative packaging materials," reports Rebstock. A lot of attention is also being devoted to biologically-produced plastics. There are ongoing projects in both the paper packaging and bioplastics sectors. Why not see this trend as an opportunity? When you look at the paper hygiene products on the supermarket shelves, no single brand or packaging stands out. Therefore, it seems logical to talk about packaging's unused marketing potential. It will be exciting to see how we can exploit this potential more effectively. In mechanical engineering companies, it always comes down to technology in the end. However, Optima Nonwovens wants to provide customers with the right answers to market changes from the get-go, so it has gone beyond keeping a "watchful" eye on the latest trends. Consumers' needs are continuing to evolve, along with the technical means to fulfill them in a highly efficient way. Top quality, beautiful design, reasonable price? Everything is possible. In all likelihood, the trend towards diversity will continue to grow in the paper hygiene products sector, too. Another aspect of this diversity is the sustainability movement. "Optima Nonwovens has been working closely with packaging material manufacturers for a long time; it has been gaining experience and has already carried out many successful trials using new materials," explains the Managing Director, but that is by no means the whole story.
Precision in terms of packaging and finishing that has never
been seen before, as well as transformed processes, materials, and packaging types – these are the new starting points.
At the Index and Interpack trade shows, Optima Nonwovens will be presenting new and/or modified and improved machine concepts and processing methods. These will make it possible to achieve visible, distinguishing features in terms of top-quality packaging. This means that customers who pursue diversification will have a choice of individual function modules and upgrades, or even a new machine type. The Zero machine, which was already presented at the last Index trade show, continues to be promising for the future – individual, personalized packaging is very exciting in this context.
Optima Nonwovens has developed a four-step method to systematize the diversification pathway. The "degree of abstraction" continues to grow over four steps.
Admittedly, marketing and ecology do not always go hand in hand. If you scratch the surface even slightly, the first signs of discord may already start to appear, quickly making a promising relationship unlikely. Bröllochs believes that if a visible layer of paper is hiding just another plastic film, then this is a disadvantage from an ecological point of view. These composites are much more costly or even impossible to recycle, unlike pure PE films. Believing that they are buying an ecologically friendly product, sooner or later the consumer will be disappointed to discover that they have been misled by false promises. Consequently, this is neither environmentally beneficial nor a positive factor for the packaging company – quite the opposite, according to Bröllochs and Rebstock.
Optima Nonwovens has proven that there is another way and that it is possible to produce pure paper bags. The reality is that paper bags are less elastic than plastic film, but paper bag production can now be controlled almost as well, so in the end, these packages can be just as taut as plastic film bags. Even the jumbo packaging for toilet paper that is popular in the USA and Europe can be made of paper.
And the good news is that Optima Nonwovens' existing packaging lines can usually be converted to handle the new tasks. Depending on the initial situation and the specific requirements, a range of minor to more extensive changes may need to be made to the process. Ecology, design – or both? Everything is possible. At Index and Interpack 2021, Optima Nonwovens will be offering indepth insights into alternatives to current packaging materials, designs, and processes – and especially into new market opportunities. Oliver Rebstock, Dominik Bröllochs, and lots of other experts are looking forward to meeting you!