2021 has not been without its challenges, but the packaging industry has maintained healthy growth and continued to bring innovative new solutions to market. According to ACTEGA, manufacturer of specialty coatings, inks, adhesives and sealing compounds for the print and packaging industry, this is set to continue in 2022, with a growing trend and increasing pressure for companies to support a more sustainable future for the print and packaging industry. Raw material and logistic challenges remaining from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as unexpected rise in raw material prices and a general shortage of consumables had an impact across all print and packaging sectors.

Paper and Board

The packaging market started to recover from global COVID-19 lockdown and also benefitted from the growing “green” trend, driving a major shift in demand from plastic to cardboard.

Sustainability, digitalization and premiumization of printed products will emerge as key trends, while the continued tendency for brand owners to ‘re-shore’ their production — bringing it back to local suppliers — will contribute to the overall market recovery. 

Flexible Packaging

For flexible papers and plastics and aluminum foil, ACTEGA experienced a sharp growth in demand throughout 2021. Some of the company’s key target markets, including food and beverages, pet-food and pharmaceutical products, were overperforming as a direct consequence of COVID-19 restrictions, which resulted in increased demand for ACTEGA’s coatings and adhesives for flexible packaging. 

Overall, 2021 was a positive year for the ACTEGA’s labels business worldwide. In Europe, the integration of ACTEGA Schmid Rhyner and its product portfolio contributed to ACTEGA’s expansion in flexo UV coatings for labels.

Being the world largest packaging segment, the flexible packaging market is going through a phase of transition towards more sustainable and resource-efficient packaging solutions. ACTEGA expects to see sustainability and safety requirements drive further adoption of paper-based and aluminum-based packaging solutions, replacing plastic, as well as a wider use of green practices — including moves towards a circular economy — while the safety of materials will become a priority. 

In order to address these trends, ACTEGA says it will continue to invest a significant amount of its R&D and technical support resources in projects supporting sustainability and safety improvements. As a result, it will develop new, environmentally responsible solutions, enabling customers to offer sustainable packaging, including the option to replace multilayers with monolayers or plastic with paper.

Although current challenges within the supply chain are expected to continue, ACTEGA predicts a growth in demand for eye-catching, impactful packaging solutions. Special visual and tactile effects, including haptics, creative designs and transparencies, will be in high demand in the label and packaging market. Customer service, technical support and a company-wide vision for improved sustainability remains a priority in 2022. 

The business line’s product focus for labels will be on LED coatings and flexo inks for indirect food contact materials, special effects, and haptic coatings. Metallic coatings and inks for label production will also be a focus in 2022. In terms of markets, shrink sleeves will remain at the forefront, with the introduction of enhanced shrink sleeve ink systems, along with pressure sensitive and in mold labels.

Metal Packaging

Sustainability has become a central factor in consumers’ shopping preferences and in 2021, resulting in a growing demand for sustainable food and beverage metal packaging. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire food and beverage industry experienced increased demand this year. Meeting this demand remains a major challenge due to the shortage of raw materials and limitations in the supply chain.

Metal Packaging is easily recycled and reused, saving raw materials and energy and reducing CO2 emissions. It therefore supports a circular economy and as a result, environmentally conscious brands are expected to consider this application for their sustainable packaging requirements in 2022 and beyond. However, the shortage of raw materials is expected to impact the availability of raw materials, including metal. 

ACTEGA Technologies: ECOLEAF and Signite

In order to realize significant sustainability improvements, pioneering new technologies need to be developed that address the key market trends and challenges faced by brands, printers and converters. 

ECOLEAF is a sustainable metallization technology that aims to replace foil-based processes to significantly reduce the amount of material, foil waste, cost and production time needed to create decorative metallic embellishments. 

Signite is a revolutionary label decoration process that allows brands to add decoration only where there are label graphics or content. Signite label images are “face-stock” free and therefore, free of matrix waste that ends up in landfill. On average, Signite decorations are also one third the thickness of traditional pressure-sensitive labels, therefore, depending on the design of the label image, from 40%-80% less material is used in the creation of Signite. 

Signite label images are also designed to chemically release and wash off glass containers when exposed to a medium caustic detergent bath at temperatures above 75C. This makes them highly suitable for reusable glass packaging where commercial bottle washing is used, and a clean release of the label image away from glass is required. 

Thorsten Kröller, president, ACTEGA, says, “Despite the ongoing challenges resulting from the pandemic, solutions that enable increased sustainability and recyclability of end products continue to be in highest demand. That’s largely because sustainability is at the center of corporate responsibility programs for manufacturers like us, as well as our printer and converter customers and the brands they serve.

“Also, for our industry to succeed long term, waste reduction is a key issue that must be addressed in 2022 and beyond. To achieve that, we believe that the whole industry needs to come together and act as one, with other key vendors and suppliers making packaging sustainability a key pillar of their business too.”

For more information, visit www.actega.com