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Interpack 2023: the Rise of Paper Packaging

Interpack 2023, held at Messe Düsseldorf in Germany, showcased a range of technologies and materials for filling and packaging. While the event is traditionally focused on packaging, printing for packaging was also a prominent feature, albeit in a smaller presence compared to previous years. The trade show, which occurs every three years, returned a year ahead of the highly anticipated drupa event, offering attendees an opportunity to navigate the fairground and test their orientation skills.

Exhibitors from the Middle East and Egypt

From our region 3 companies participated in the exhibition:
One was  Kandil Glass from Egypt which showcased glass jars and bottles in various shapes and sizes. Another Egyptian company was  KRNO Plastic Factory  with wide range of plastic products including PLA, PET, bag-in-box packaging, bags, and cups.

Alpek Polyester through its subsidiary OCTAL from Oman also took part in interpack 2023 Oman. Alpek Polyester & its subsidiary, OCTAL, offer innovative and sustainable PET packaging solutions that include both virgin & virgin quality recycled content DPET® Sheet and high-performance PET Resin grades for a wide variety of applications. Spanning 9 countries with state-of-the-art production facilities and an unmatched global reach, the company is at the forefront of creating a more sustainable future for the PET packaging industry.

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Everybody is looking for Sustainability

Sustainability took center stage at Interpack 2023, with almost every booth emphasizing environmentally friendly practices. With brands and consumers increasingly conscious of their environmental impact, sustainability has become a necessity rather than a mere marketing strategy.

Almost all producers of plastic films for packaging are investing big time in production of monomaterial films for packaging. The German equipment manufacturer highlighted its machines for production of monomaterial films including BOPE Aand BOPLA as well as The NATUREFORMER KFT thermoforming machines which uses materials made from natural fibers and product heights of up to 160 mm with a forming area of 900 x 600 mm.

A young German company called jonatura which was participating for first time in interpack
offers the alternatives to conventional packaging and shipping materials. The company manufactures a wide range of biodegradable films in various sizes and designs, from rolled goods to finished sales packaging for the “point of sale”. Their products are made from starch, sugar cane, lactic acid and cellulose from FSC-certified forest companies and are biodegradable and compostable.

Sun Chemical Group GmbH  presented Polyolefin films coated with SunBar™ Aerobloc chlorine-free oxygen barrier varnish that can replace PET in flexible packaging whilst retaining same level of food protection up to pasteurisation conditions.

A notable trend at Interpack 2023 was the rise of paper packaging. Paper mills, including Stora Enso, UPM, Mitsubishi, and Sappi, showcased advancements in barrier properties for paper-based packaging solutions. Stora Enso introduces new easily recyclable packaging board grade for frozen and chilled food packaging. UPM put on display its paper-based material for food packaging including UPM Confidio™ Pro which is a is a heat-sealable and recyclable barrier paper that offers moisture and grease resistance. This food-safe coated two side paper is suitable for all printing methods.

Although fiber-based packaging has been available for years, the quality and options have significantly improved. However, these materials still need to demonstrate their efficacy on a larger scale and in widespread use.

Surprise Participation from Heidelberg

Heidelberg made an unexpected technological debut at Interpack with the Boardmaster, a webfed flexo press for folding carton printing. The press featured flying change-over print units, allowing for seamless transitions between print jobs at full web speed within seconds. With speeds of up to 600 m/min and widths up to 1.6m, the Boardmaster offers high productivity and lower running costs compared to offset printing.

According to Heidelberg Flexographic printing is now the number one technology in the packaging market and is continuing to benefit from the globally stable and significant growth of packaging and labels. It is already being used to produce some 15 percent of the total folding carton volume and this proportion is continuing to increase, with flexo folding carton printing volume exhibiting above-average growth of 2,4 percent in packaging printing.

International brand corporations in particular are looking to combine printing quality with ever greater sustainability and recyclability across their entire packaging portfolio, and they are increasingly moving away from plastic. In the food sector, plastic is still the dominant packaging material by some margin. According to a recent study by Smithers, however, the proportion of fiber-based packaging made from materials such as board and paper will overtake plastic in the medium term and assume the top spot with a proportion of over 40 percent. The new HEIDELBERG Boardmaster is especially suited to the food and beverage sector’s folding carton applications, which are becoming increasingly popular worldwide due to a growing global demand for packaged products.

Inkjet Technology from Fujifilm

Inkjet printing for flexible packaging also gained traction at Interpack 2023. Fujifilm unveiled the Jet Press FP790, a digital inkjet press for packaging printing. Although only a scale model was displayed. Fujifilm partnered with industry suppliers such as Henkel, Nordmeccanica, and Hybrid software to ensure seamless integration into existing flex packaging plants. The press is set to be fully available by the end of 2023.

A Strong Show

Despite a decrease in total visitors compared to the pre-pandemic event in 2017, interpack 2023 was deemed a success by the organizers. The event hosted 2,807 exhibitors and attracted approximately 143,000 visitors, with two-thirds coming from abroad. India, Japan, and the USA were among the largest visitor nations. The next interpack is scheduled for May 7, 2026.

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