Ahead of her presentation at E-PACK next month, we spoke to Tania Montesi - Global E-Commerce Business Manager at H.B. Fuller - to get a sneak peek of her presentation, as well as insights into the key areas for development in innovative e-commerce packaging, sustainable packaging, and much more.
Tania, what are some key takeaways that you hope the audience will take from your presentation on 'Designing for sustainability - the future of paper-based packaging in e-commerce'?
The packaging industry is witnessing some fundamental changes, driven by sustainability. I hope stakeholders in the market see how all the members of the value chain are working together towards a common goal. I’m anticipating that brand owners, packaging makers, and consumers who attend E-Pack will identify ways to move away from plastics and shift toward other packaging materials, such as recyclable fiber-based packaging products. I will present exciting sustainability trends in e-commerce packaging, discuss where the market is transitioning, and lay out consumers’ attitudes and expectations for e-commerce packaging. H.B. Fuller also will unveil a breakthrough Sesame® Evolution™ fiber-based tear tape. This solution addresses a range of sustainability goals for this market and will replace the typical plastic-based tear tape commonly used in e-commerce bags and corrugated mailers.
What are the key areas for development in innovative e-commerce packaging?
We need to eliminate problematic plastics through redesign. This is where a strong collaboration across the supply chain can come into play. By working together, this will lead to a deeper conversation around increasing design of mono-material packaging.
We also need to eliminate EPS or substitute it with a fiber-based material.
Another key trend we need to develop in e-commerce packaging design is the increase in reusable packaging. Consumers are becoming more aware of the waste they produce. Demand for refillable products, such as dish soap and laundry detergent, and returnable products on-the-go is only going to increase.
We also must eliminate void fillers and create right-sized packaging wherever possible. Void fillers often are made of expanded polystyrene, which is single-use plastic that needs to be removed from packaging design. If padding is needed to secure safe shipment of fragile items, consider fiber-based padding that leverages adhesives.
One of the most critical elements today and highly demanded by customers, is packaging that is sustainable. What are the key elements to make e-commerce packaging more sustainable? Where do you see a tendency to replace plastics in e-commerce packaging?
What makes a sustainable box? Consumers want to know what the raw materials are and where are they coming from. They also want the packaging to be right-sized, reusable, returnable, and – most of all – they want to know where it will end up.
As brand companies redesign their packaging for e-commerce, the focus should be on eliminating the waste from being created in the first place. This means starting the design process from scratch instead of tweaking and adjusting the traditional brick and mortar packaging solution. This begins with a waste-out approach and requires packaging designers to rethink the product size, format, what components are needed, and what components can be eliminated or are recyclable. Our H.B. Fuller Sesame® Evolution™ tear tapes are an example of how a fiber-based tear tape can replace a plastic based tear tape, for a seamless unboxing experience. Also, our H.B. Fuller® Evolution™ water-based barrier coatings may eliminate void fillers, such as plastic air pillows and bubble wrap, by providing e-commerce packages with an oxygen barrier.
How do you keep up to date with technology?
Being a true partner and offering innovative adhesive solutions for this industry is at our core; it is crucial that we stay up-to-date on the latest technology in the industry. We make that happen by being a part of the major associations in the industry and attending and showcasing at the largest trade shows in the globe. Plus, we read the latest industry reports and market research. This helps ensure that we are collaborating with key customers and partners at all times.
Why do you feel it is important for people to attend E-PACK Europe 2021?
It is important to learn what challenges brand owners are facing when designing e-commerce packaging to meet consumer demand – and even more so when they are designing for sustainability. Collaboration from the entire value chain is key. Every component of the value chain needs to be in place, enabling a faster process and meeting sustainability goals. That only happens when everyone works together to find sustainable packaging solutions that will truly advance a circular economy.