Can Coatings Help Make Sustainable Packaging?

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Sustainable Packaging

Packaging is known to be an easy industry, but it tends to go through extensive changes, especially when you are trying to integrate sustainability. With each passing day, flexible packaging methods have become popular, and they are coming out as a promising opportunity for businesses, since the majority of brands are progressing and opting for sustainable packaging. It’s no secret that flexible packaging promises a low carbon footprint and cost-effectiveness, but they aren’t all recyclable. 

Eco-friendly packaging materials are available, such as corrugated and kraft materials. However, what we don’t pay attention to is that there are various coatings available that can play an essential role in recycling the packaging. The coatings generally include polyurethanes, acrylics, and epoxies which help with functionality as well as the appearance of the packaging. The utilization of coating on eco-friendly and sustainable material promises counter-productivity. 

Still, the coating tends to be the most overlooked area when it comes down to sustainable packaging. For instance, the coating market is likely to reach the hitting point of $3,865 by the year 2023. However, there is still a substantial need for creating awareness regarding sustainable coating options and use them properly, particularly when customer behaviors are concerned. In this article, we are sharing more about coatings and if they can actually help create sustainable packaging!

Coating – What Is It?

The coating is basically a material that is applied to the constantly moving webs of flexible components, but it can change since there are too many options, including aluminum foil, paper, and film. There are various carrier substrates that can depend on why the coating is essential and how the custom printed packaging will be utilized (eCommerce purposes and retail businesses). The coating is also important because they improve the appearance and aesthetic appeal without compromising on functionality. 

The coating can surely help improve the packaging and make sure the message stands out. Moreover, the protective layer can be added to the packaging for higher durability. If you don’t know about different coating options, there are three options. First of all, varnish can create a glossy and translucent surface, the cold seal is there for protecting the products when standard heat sealing doesn’t show effectiveness, and PVC coating can enhance protectiveness while adding a glossy appearance. 

For the most part, the coatings can be applied along with the printing presses, with the utilization of coating and laminating systems. Different industries use a variety of coatings, such as aqueous coating for recyclable packaging and wax coating for food packaging. At this point, it’s safe to say that coating is being extensively used in the packaging world, and it tends to grow as a full-fledged industry. Moreover, different customization options are available according to the products, which means coating can be designed according to the packaging, and it even provides a margin for packaging. 

Do Sustainable Coatings Matter?

When it comes down to the packaging world, the term sustainability has become an ultimate buzzword, and it wouldn’t be wrong to say that sustainable and recyclable packaging can be challenging to design and manufacture. Packaging has too many layers, and all of them are designed with different materials, inks, and coatings. That being said, designing completely recyclable packaging can be challenging. Companies have had various measures for brands to reassess the current utilization, such as canceling and banning certain materials that negatively influence the environment. 

For this reason, the packaging industry is opting for recycled content to design flexible packaging which develops better plastic forms and dismisses the uncalled use of plastic. The new plastic forms can enhance recycling and improve the circulation of already in-used plastic to promote recycling. In addition, one doesn’t really know where coatings will fit in. Most businesses have made major advancements in providing recyclable and sustainable products, but it’s been green-washed excessively. 

Overall, the coating is pretty beneficial because it adds functionality that cannot be attained with the ban of plastic material. The customers are constantly talking about eco-friendly steps being taken by the businesses they consume and have gained extensive awareness. That being said, your customers will catch up on the brand whenever they look for an eco-friendly brand, but coatings can actually result in the non-recyclability of the packaging. 

Also, it brings us to green-washing and has become extremely prominent, but the majority of customers don’t have awareness. For this reason, businesses are stepping forward to make sustainable designs for embracing the sustainable coating. So, if you are looking for sustainable packaging, you can opt for water-base coatings and include barrier coating, primer, heat-sealing, and varnishes. These coatings are extremely durable, which can manage tough conditions and adds a protective layer. 

However, advanced options and technologies are being designed to come out with more sustainable and eco-friendly coatings. As a result, it will increase the chances of sustainable packaging. 

The Sustainable Coating Options 

There are different coating options available for packaging because they eventually play an important role in enhancing the feel and look of the design. In the section below, we are sharing the sustainable coating options, such as;

  • Aqueous Polymeric Solution – EVOH and PVOH are being used as eco-friendly coating and have gained extensive popularity. They are generally used as a barrier coating, which makes them suitable for beverage and food packaging. Moreover, it can be utilized for thickening the coating if there are emulsions but aren’t resistant to water. In addition, they can be used for dispersion which makes them suitable for designing solid form 
  • Biopolymers – these are the biodegradable and biological feeding stocks. This is basically extracted from sugarcane to enhance sustainability. In addition, some companies are using plants, grown farming, and corn stalks to designing packaging coating. It tends to work as a plastic barrier and doesn’t need much modification for application. However, the only downside is that it cannot manage heat, such as PBS, PHAs, chitosan-based films, and PEF

To summarize, the old coatings aren’t sustainable and are too stringent. However, the packaging industry is trying to create better coatings that promise higher sustainability, and it will enhance packaging standards (eventually).