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European Packaging Institute (EPI)
Report, News, Notifications - English Edition 1/2006

Five Years of News from the European Packaging Institute e.V.

In 2006 the regular newsletters of the European Packaging Institute e.V. reach their fifth anniversary. In these newsletters, which are published under the title "Reports, News, Notifications", members and partners of the Institute as well as other parties interested in the development of packaging in Europe, are kept informed of the plans, projects and initiatives of the Institute as well as of other important developments and studies. This also encompasses news of significant activities of other institutes and associations and of those important measures taken by the European Union and other international organisations.

In the years 2001 to 2004 nine editions with more than 100 contributions were published. In 2005 three editions with 42 contributions were issued. Alongside reports on the activities of the Committee of the Institute as well as those of the European Union and international organisations, contributions from nine countries were featured.

Recommendation: European Technological Institute

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the possible aims and tasks of a European Technical Institute. The institute would further innovative activities and the dissemination of knowledge. The critical areas of the consultative process are the mandate of the institute as well as the aims and the appropriate structure of the proposed European institution. Should the European Council approve the recommendation to set up the Institute then the European Commission would prepare the necessary legal framework for the establishment of the Institute.
More information can be found under http://www.europa.int/comm/education/eit/index dehtml


From the 24th - 27th September 2006 the Düsseldorf Exhibition Centre invites visitors to that city to the first INNOVATIONSPARC PACKAGING. The Innovationsparc takes place in association with the InterMopro, InterCool and InterMeat trade exhibitions and is designed to promote ideas for the use of new and innovative packaging concepts in the food processing industry. Among the exhibits are expected to be packaging materials for dairy, meat and sausage products as well as for frozen foods and also new developments in the field of radiofrequency identification (RFID) for labelling and display purposes.
Of all the packaging materials produced in the world today 40 % are used for food products, 4 % for the catering industry and 15 % for drinks packaging.

Environmental Strategy of the EU up to 2012

The development of the European Union towards a "Recycling Society" and the establishment of standards and yardsticks for waste reduction are the central planks of the environmental strategy to be pursued by the European Commission up to the year 2012. Part of this is also the proposal to overhaul the waste regulations and guidelines passed almost 30 years ago.

According to the information presented to the European Commission the volume of refuse waste in the member states of the Union has grown disproportionately in recent years. The volume of refuse is currently lying at more than 1.3 thousand million tonnes per annum. According to the Millennium Report published by the United Nations, 15 of the 24 ecosystems which supply raw materials and facilitate life on Earth are being exploited with adverse affect or unsustainably.

Developments in the Areas of Packaging and Packaging Material Utilisation

The Association for the advancement of the international exchange of environmental technology - ITUT e.V. - and the Dual System Germany AG company invited journalists and publicists to a special seminar on the 7th - 9th November 2005 entitled "New Developments in the area of Packaging and Packaging Material Utilisation". Within the programme of this discussion meeting were topics on the themes "Present and Future Developments in the area of Packaging", "Developments in Packaging Machine design - future concepts through Total System design", "Biodegradable Plastics in the Packaging Market - a success story for the future?" as well as "Packaging Recycling - the Green Dot in Germany and Europe". The participants in the seminar also had the opportunity to get to know the Environmental Research Centre (UFZ) in Leipzig - a large scale research institute of the Helmholtz Association - and to see the largest fully automated sorting unit for light domestic waste in Germany at SERO Leipzig as well as the viewing at Grosspoesna near Leipzig the largest mechanical-biological refuse handling installation - MBA Croebern - in Germany. At the conclusion of the seminar a discussion took place in Berlin with the Parliamentary Deputy Helmut Koenigshaus on the topic "Prospects for the Recycling Industry in Germany".
Taking part in the discussions were 28 specialists from 12 countries, alongside German journalists and experts were contributors from France, Great Britain, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, as well as Hungary and Belarus.
From these lectures and talks the participants had an overview of the significant experiences and knowledge which have been gained from studies into the development of packaging materials and methods as well as from the experience in packaging recycling in Germany and other European countries. At the same time they were also acquainted with important new developments in packaging technology.
From some of the studies presented it is clear that the worldwide increase in the usage of packaging materials will continue over the coming years and that the still very considerable variations in packaging standards and development levels are gradually being overcome. It is particularly important that new opportunities presented by the increasing level of knowledge are exploited in full and that the new demands based on environmental recognition and the requirements of Corporate Social Responsibility are taken into account. More consideration needs to be paid moreover to the ratio between packaging and product quality. If, for example, as with many products, the ratio of packaging to product quality is between 15 - 25 % and the packaging cost amounts to only however between 0.5 and 2.7 % of the total production cost, then it is self evident that with only very small additional expense on the packaging a significant benefit to the product can be achieved.
In the area also of packaging machine technology new demands arise. For example with the packaging machines of the future it will be expected that they will be capable of automatically assessing packaging material characteristics and of self regulating and monitoring product quality as well as meeting the expectation of up to 50 % weight reduction and a much reduced energy consumption (anticipated up to 40 % below the current energy usage)
The foreign participants also followed with particular interest the contributions on the activities of the Dual System Germany AG company and the PRO EUROPE Organisation. The Dual System Germany AG company has, since its inception, converted 61,330,281 tonnes of packaging waste, in 2004 this equated to 63 kgs per head of population. The company currently has 19,000 customers, among these 25 % are foreign companies. The Green-Dot Organisations from 25 countries belong to the PRO EUROPE association which exploits the knowledge and experience gained in Germany. Through their national organisations some 120,000 companies use the Green Dot as their licensing mark.

Advisory Council for Bioplastics

Representatives of 14 companies which manufacture and convert bioplastics have, in conjunction with the Interseroh Group, set up an advisory council for "Bioplastic and Compostable Packaging Materials". Among those companies which are represented on the advisory council is the Dutch producer EOSTA, which already supplies packaging materials for German discounters. The main aims of the council are to advance the introduction of bioplastic packaging materials into the marketplace and to develop concepts and plans for an appropriate commercial exploitation of these new packaging

Voluntary Commitment to the Introduction of Bioplastics

A consortium of plastics manufacturers has pledged itself to make commercially available "environ-mentally friendly polymers" for the packaging industry. Among the members of the consortium are BASF of Germany, as well as Cargill Dow (USA), Novamont ( Italy) and Rodenburg-Biopolymers (Holland) who between them have more than 90 % of the European market in bioplastics.

The European Commission which at the moment is not planning any regulatory directives for the introduction of bioplastics, has welcomed this commitment to extend the range of polymers through innovative developments in the area of bioplastics, to open new sources of income for farmers and to bring about through high quality compost improvements in the soil and water quality.

Lower Costs for Trademark Protection in the EU

After a resolution of the European Commission the charges by the European Trademark Office for the application and registration of trademarks and for the extension of legal protection have been reduced. The Trademark Office, located in Alicante, had to date been charging Euro 975 for an application for a trademark, Euro 1100 for the registration and Euro 2500 for the extension of legal protection.

The new charges are Euro 900 for the application, Euro 850 for the registration of the trademark and Euro 1500 for the legal protection extension. By using the electronic application system a further Euro 150 per application can be saved. With these reductions in charges the financial hurdles for the use of trade mark protection have been somewhat lowered.

Discussion Point : Product Piracy

As a lever in the fight against product piracy, strengthened EU guidelines for protecting the legal rights of trademark owners, inventors and creators are currently being discussed in industry circles in a number of countries. The necessity of a more robust and thorough action against product imitation stems from information from the European Customs Authorities. According to these sources it is not only luxury products from well known producers but also everyday products which are being counterfeited for sale. In the year 2004 the customs authorities of the EU identified as counterfeit and confiscated 103 million counterfeited products. This figure is however, according to industry sources, only the tip of the iceberg. In the current discussions are, among other things, demands for a minimum penalty for product piracy and for the possible confiscation of all counterfeited transit products.

Introduction of the European Directives in Lithuania

Following the entry of Lithuania into the European Union the European Directives in the area of pack-aging are to be introduced in the country. This is revealed in a report by the Lithuanian Packaging Association. At present the EU regulation Nr 1935/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27th October 2004, concerning materials and other objects permitted in contact with food products, and which supersedes the 80/590/EWG and 89/109/EWG (Official Document No. L338 of 13.11.2004, p.0004 - 0014) is being adopted into Lithuanian law. At the same time the European Norms on packaging are being introduced into the Lithuanian Norm Code. Through this process the latest advances in knowledge of product spoilage as well as in the areas of quality control and testing of packaging are being absorbed.
A packaging directive which corresponds to the European Packaging Directive is already in force in Lithuania.

Studies in the Development of the Packaging Industry in the Reform Countries of Central, Eas-tern and Southern Europe

The progress which has been made in the last 10 years in the development of packaging in the reform countries of Central, Eastern and Southern Europe were the subject of studies carried out at the educational centre of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Leipzig in conjunction with packaging experts from the Further Education Institutes. The basis of the studies were interviews with the participating experts and the debates arising from the responses from those experts.

The report which has now been issued is based on information from experts from the countries of Armenia, Bulgaria, Poland, Rumania, Russia, the Ukraine and Belarus. The report illustrates the progress achieved and also the ongoing problems in the individual countries. One of the main points of the report is the specific requirements of packaging in these countries, particularly the requirements of package design, as well as those of protective function and information carrier, together with the new ecological requirements for material conversion. The criteria and goals for the development of new types of packaging in the seven various countries are also assessed as are the criticisms in these countries of some of the packaging of imported products.

International Masters Studies Course for Packaging at the Technical University of Lappeenranta

An international Masters Studies Course for new packaging solutions and ideas is being introduced at the Technical University of Lappeenranta in Finland. A main plank of the course, which will lead to the academic grade of Master of Sciences, will be new packaging solutions based on paper, cardboard and corrugated board. The tuition will be conducted in close contact with practical experience. Aim of the course is to produce experts for leading positions in research and development as well as in pro-duction and marketing capacities.

Omnibus Volume on the Development of Packaging in Armenia

A new omnibus volume with contributions from 7 authors has been published, detailing the results of an evaluation by the Armenian Packaging Association ARMENPAK of the latest developments in the area of packaging. The 88 page volume is published as the 4th part in the series "Packaging, Materials, Equipment, Technology and New Developments". The articles are available in the Russian,
English and Armenian languages.

The main focus of the content is an assessment of the recent ROSUPAK and TAROPAK 2005 exhibitions as well as the latest progress in food packaging ( contributions: "Modern Trends in Food Packaging" and "Latest Packaging Materials for Food Products"). Other articles give information about "The Label as an object of Study" as well as about "Packaging and its Further Development in Armenia" and the regulations introduced regarding product information and labelling. The volume is supple-mented by the reproduction of the FEFCO Code.

There is currently a publication in preparation in Yerevan detailing Armenian packaging terminology.