It’s usually hot down in Miami, but Global Pouch Forum really brought the heat with a focus on digital printing. Although only 1% of flexible packaging is printed digitally today, it was the hot topic at last week’s forum. Digital’s ability to print small runs with customization is making the industry sit up and take notice.
“The Global Pouch conference was unquestionably tapping into the mega-trend of customization, especially by starting the conference with an HP-sponsored event at Karlville’s facility,” says S-OneLP’s VP Ralph Giammarco. “ePac’s co-founder and CMO, Carl Joachim, led one of the event’s most exciting presentations. He showed that a model can be created that is less about digital printing and more about being responsive to the demand for customization.”
During his presentation, “Why Digital Print is Gaining Ground in Flexible Packaging,” Joachim demonstrated that short runs, faster turnaround times and more customization are not only enabled by digital printing, but also answer the increasing demands coming from brands.
Digital’s Growing Presence
Joachim also discussed ePac’s growing presence around the country, as well as its partnership with Karlville.
“The plant tour of Karlville was an excellent start to the conference,” says FPK Resources’ Ginger Cushing. “The digital model was on display with ePac’s Miami converting business, as well as HP Indigo 20000 press, thermal laminator, solventless adhesive laminator, lab testing equipment and a couple of pouching lines.
“Then to see the ePac/HP presentation and innovative companies like Sun Centre and CharterNEX promoting solutions that can take the digital model to the next level helped to create a sense of focus on digital throughout the conference.”
We heard from some traditional flexo printers who are considering going digital, but are trying to justify semi-short runs on flexo by running, say 20,000 packages even if a customer only wants 5,000.
“I asked one printer how this would work and they said they could run the 20,000 impressions for ‘close’ to the cost that the customer would pay for a digital run of 5,000, based on their research,” says S-OneLP’s Senior Marketing Manager Dan Halkyard. “But can the customer even use those other 15,000 … or will they just throw them away? This doesn’t seem sustainable or environmentally responsible, but this is the logic and justification that one business had for staying with analog at this time.”
The Move Toward Sustainability
Another hot topic during the forum was sustainability. Not only are brands demanding this, but consumers are, as well.
“Global Pouch really represented its name — global — by taking on the challenges of sustainability and recyclability. They’re leading an educated discussion on the usage of plastics and other forms of packaging,” Giammarco says. “This is a complex issue that requires a view from all sides. Global Pouch showed that it wants to be a leader in that discussion.”
Manufacturers like CharterNEX are bringing the technology to create sustainable packaging. Now the real work will be to figure out how make recycling happen.
“Recycling was a lively debate as to how to solve the plastic-in-the-ocean issues,” Halkyard says. “What works for land (biodegradable) may not work for oceans (marine degradeable). And what makes a package durable and food safe today makes it less bio/marine degradable.”
Reduce, reuse, recycle was a popular solution discussed. However, consumers will need to learn to sort their recycling to make curbside pickup and store collection stations a success.
“As one speaker said: Having Starbucks switch from plastic to paper straws is not going to solve the problem,” Halkyard says. “Although it is a step in the right direction.”