If our rankings were based solely on the number of packaging awards a company has won in the past year, Alcan Packaging, a business unit of Rio Tinto Alcan, would probably be even higher on our list.

Alcan earned top honors in two categories of the 2007 PLGA Global U.S. Print Quality Awards, sponsored by the Packaging and Label Gravure Association Global, which recognize excellence in gravure printing. Winning in the film/film lamination process category, Alcan Packaging’s Shrek Animals cookie bag for Kellogg Co. features eight colors (4-process and 4-line) reverse printed on multi-layer lamination on a Rotomec press. Alcan also picked up a top award in the flexible packaging category for a tobacco foil overwrap for a cigarette brand.

Alcan took home even more awards from the European Aluminium Foil Association during Interpack 2008. Awarded products include: The Beauty Purse, the PeeliCan and Sheba Essence packaging that Alcan developed with Mars Petcare Europe. One key innovation from Alcan this year was Europe’s first fully printed compostable laminates for UK-based cereal maker Jordans. Developed and manufactured by the unit’s Dublin, Ireland, plant, the bio-based films, as well as the inks and adhesives used in its conversion, have been certified DIN EN 13432 by Dincertco, a European norm for compostable and biodegradable packaging. The packaging is made using two different certified compostable films. The outer layer is cellulose-derived from wood pulp free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the inner layer is derived from GMO-free cornstarch. According to Mike Schmitt, president of Alcan Packaging Food Americas and Global Pharmaceuticals, while 2007 was a solid year with new product introductions and process innovations, the company’s most significant contribution was not centered on one specific development.

“Seeing first-hand how Alcan Packaging provided products that use less raw material, require less energy and had a reduced carbon footprint, while maintaining customerrequirements, was truly a significant achievement,” says Schmitt. “These products, due to reduced energy and carbon, then benefited our communities, both near and far, as well as our customers. Of course I am proud of individual developments; but to have more and more products across multiple markets that better meet economic, social and environmental criteria has to be a significant achievement for 2007.”

This last year especially has been a busy one for Alcan. In April, the company announced a major new, global growth and innovation team, led by Michael Rubenstein who previously headed the Global Pharma business. This team aims to create sustainable value through new innovations, customer partnerships and new growth platforms.

“In addition, our business plans for 2008 and 2009 include continued enhancements to our overall manufacturing footprint,” says Schmitt. “This ensures continued growth and our ability to deliver the highest product quality, service and overall value to our customers. We also continue to look at growth in developing economies, as well as in new markets and downstream expansion into niche product areas. In the simplest of terms, our plans are to put in place the right strategy, technologies, energy and people to do the right things for our customers every day.”