AR Metallizing brings packaging with a sustainable focus

In an age where brands reign supreme, plastic packaging has become the addiction of the modern world. But this need not be the case: new products are offering aesthetic allure without environmental damage

  • By Bart Devos, CEO at AR Metallizing | Monday, November 13th, 2017

AR Metallizing's SilberBoard packaging is sustainable and eye-catching

Shop shelves have come a long way in the last 50 years. Indeed, before the Mad Men era of the 1960s – and the accompanying explosion in the power of branding – the very nature of consumer decision-making was very different. Not so long ago, consumers visiting their local stores were greeted with only a handful of well-established products. Brands did not need to have great packaging in order to attract demand: they simply provided goods to the public, safe in the knowledge everyone knew what those products were.

But today, we live in a different world: brands can no longer simply rely on their reputation for quality, and modern consumers consistently find themselves bombarded with 10 or 20 different products all vying for their attention. Faced with such variety, the overwhelming majority of purchasing decisions occur in a split second. Of course, it can be hard to get a product’s full message and value proposition across in such a short period of time, but that’s why brands are increasingly looking to distinguish themselves with aesthetic packaging.

In-store purchasing decisions are rarely thought through with any serious degree of consciousness; instead, they are highly influenced by superficial impulses stemming from the way a product is packaged. As such, the very nature of the modern world dictates that brands enter the fight for shoppers’ attention in order to survive an overcrowded marketplace.

A double bind
The era of modern advertising has fostered an exceedingly competitive environment, in which fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies simply cannot compromise on the quality of their packaging. And yet, while products cannot hope to survive the harsh nature of our fast-paced, consumer-driven world without an alluring façade, companies are also under increasing pressure to become environmentally sustainable.

Environmental awareness among a growing population of consumers is fuelling a demand for sustainability, which, in turn, is generating substantial pressure on firms to reduce the impact of packaging on the environment. There was a time prominent brands could simply say ‘we are not in the waste business’ and escape scrutiny, but today’s firms are forced to rethink such statements.

Modern advertising has fostered an exceedingly competitive environment, in which companies cannot compromise on the quality of their packaging

As a result, brands the world over face a conflict of priorities that can only be reconciled through sustainable packaging. Indeed, the market for sustainable offerings is steadily gaining pace; driven largely by consumer demand, but also bolstered by government legislation around the world. What’s more, certain brands have become leaders on the issue, introducing sustainable packaging or implementing system-wide recycling programmes.

According to the latest industry report by Research and Markets, the global sustainable packaging market is poised to grow approximately 7.7 percent per year over the next decade, and is likely to reach around $440.3bn by 2025. Global demand will be further boosted by a growing middle-class population, which is simultaneously becoming more affluent and environmentally conscious. The greatest growth is expected to come from the Asian market, driven in particular by demand in China and India.

Face value
Faced with marked shifts in consumer priorities, packaging companies are competing to create a product that is environmentally sustainable without compromising on aesthetics. One particularly exciting solution is the development of metallised papers and paperboards, which offer dramatic environmental benefits when compared with plastic products, aluminium foil or metallic inks. As well as reducing solid waste, paperboard products reduce the carbon footprint of the overall packaging process.

This can be seen in the state-of-the-art production techniques adopted when producing SilberBoard, which leverages a process called ‘metallised vacuum vaporisation’ to cover paper with a microscopic layer of aluminium. This innovative and environmentally friendly process gives brands’ packaging a more sophisticated and high gloss appearance, while eliminating the need for plastics. Crucially, SilberBoard is a print-ready end product that is easy to work with and compatible with any printing technology, helping to simplify companies’ supply chains and reduce the need for shipping.

Sustainable packaging market:

7.7%

Predicted annual growth in the next 10 years

$440bn

Estimated value by 2025

What’s more, care is taken at every stage of the process to ensure environmental sustainability. This is reflected in the fact all of AR Metallizing’s paperboard products are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and the company’s energy outlay is intelligently managed via thermal feedback. Therefore, SilberBoard not only enables premium brands to maintain – or even improve – their trusted look and feel, it also provides a dramatically more sustainable, fully recyclable alternative to the laminated polyester products that currently dominate the market.

Unique marker
And yet, the benefits of paper and paperboard products like SilberBoard extend beyond environmental and cosmetic appeal. Put to task by Broncochem, a leading cold remedy brand in Latin America, AR Metallizing was charged with creating a reliable solution to reinforce the brand’s anti-counterfeiting efforts.

By creating a unique packaging with a fully customised hologram, AR Metallizing ensured Bronochem had a product that was impossible to duplicate, securing the brand against the sale of counterfeit and lookalike products. Not only did this help to increase the company’s sales figures, the packaging also received both national and international acclaim.

Critically, AR Metallizing has proved it is possible for brands to acquire a premium high-quality look that can drive consumer engagement in a profitable yet environmentally friendly manner. Many brands have already chosen to convert to SilberBoard, but the industry still has some way to go in order to wean the packaging industry off plastic altogether – particularly in Europe.

Notably, while it is often believed Europeans are more environmentally conscious than those in the US, our company has experienced the opposite. In the US, pressure from consumers ensures brands are eager to switch to sustainable packaging. Meanwhile, in Europe, consumer advocacy for plastic-free packaging is still in its infancy, making the region particularly challenging to work in.

Fortunately, here at AR Metallizing, we quite like a challenge, and our aim is to consistently supply brands with the highest quality packaging. We believe companies can sell their products effectively, while also making their business and the wider FMCG market more sustainable. Ultimately, we want to inspire premium brands from around the world to adopt environmentally friendly practices, and ensure harmful plastic products are sent packing.