Security is becoming increasingly important throughout the supply chain. Cartons can be designed to incorporate a wide range of security systems, based on both covert and overt technologies. Designs can include tamper-evidence, child-resistance or other security benefits through tagging mechanisms, creative constructional design as well as print and ink system technologies. The variety of these systems also helps in reducing losses providing brand owners and retailers with greater levels of confidence. The increasing problem of counterfeiting can also be helped using the technology available to carton and cartonboard manufacturers and this offers consumers confidence in the products they buy.
Cartons, in particular, contribute a very small percentage of the price paid by the consumer at the point of purchase – less than 5 % for most products and for some products, such as medicines, less than 0.1 %. Would prices fall if there was no packaging? No – prices would rise! Without the benefits of modern packaging, supermarkets could not handle, store and display the range of products they now offer and the cost of transportation and storage together with handling at the point of sale would inevitably rise. The environmental impact of packaging as a result of its manufacture and use, together with the implications of its ultimate disposal, must be balanced against the benefits it provided in preventing the waste of more expensive resources, especially of food.
Counterfeiting harms both a brand’s reputation and the consumer of counterfeited products. Cartons can offer overt (visible), covert (non-visible) and track-and-trace technology to help brands protect themselves. An example of visible protection is an embossed hologram on a varnish layer which can show overt security features alongside the decoration. Using a substrate with integral coloured identification can provide covert protection. The security features can also be embedded in the cartonboard and thus be very difficult to imitate by printing. Cartons can offer printed RFID systems for authentication and track- and-trace of product. The electronic element is produced with conductive inks and can be integrated with the carton structure.
Cartons – a safe packaging solution made from a sustainable material
Consumer health and safety is the top priority for the cartonboard and carton industries. Every care is taken to prevent the migration of unwanted substances such as mineral hydrocarbons from cartons into food. Despite the fact that no clear evidence has been presented to support the recent concern over the presence of mineral hydrocarbons, the industries have been finding solutions to address the issue.
From the perspective of the cartonboard substrate, depending on the overall packaging system and after thorough risk assessment, different solutions are possible, both on the basis of primary fibre cartonboard and of recycled grades with and without functional barriers.
Good Manufacturing Practice guidelines have been established for carton makers. A guidance document¹ provides practical advice to carton printers and converters covering the entire carton production process with the aim of preventing health hazards or unacceptable changes in food as a result of migrations.
Protection against Food Waste
Packaging, including cartons, is key to protecting the resources embedded in manufactured goods. This is especially true in the food industry, where dealing with the issue of Food Waste and wasted resources, is becoming a priority.
Cartonboard packaging adds value to a product; increasing its overall resource efficiency through reducing food waste. By protecting food and reducing food waste, cartons contribute to more sustainable consumption and benefit society by making our modern, convenience-driven lifestyles possible.
In Europe, 62% of folding cartons produced are used to package food.
Cartonboard packaging: made from a sustainable, renewable resource
The original resource of the cartonboard industry is the natural, renewable forest. European forests used by the paper and board industry are sustainable. Every year new growth exceeds the wood harvested by an area equivalent to 1.5 million football pitches. The volume of European forests doubled from 1950 to 2000.
Paper and board packaging is easy to collect and recycle. In recycled cartonboard production, fibres can be recycled 5 times, with an input of fresh fibres from virgin fibre products which provide a valuable raw material for recycled products. Production of packages with recycled content would not be possible without virgin fibres, and it is only with a simultaneous presence on the market of primary and secondary fibres that a viable fibre cycle that is both economic and ecological, can be maintained.
Cartonboard manufacturers aim for continuous improvement by using less wood and energy and so becoming more resource-efficient. Also, the development of lighter base weights means the use of less packaging overall and less waste.
¹ “European Guide to Good Manufacturing Practice for Cartonboard based Food Packaging“, European Carton Makers Association (ECMA)