Taking an innovative approach to packaging can help local companies become more competitive. This was the message at a recent Invest Northern Ireland organised seminar on SMART Packaging, which was attended by around 20 companies.
The seminar focused on cutting-edge approaches to packaging explaining how nanotechnology, and the latest biodegradeable materials can be used to create highly effective and environmentally friendly packaging.
Speakers included researchers from Queen’s University, the University of Ulster and Loughrey College, and delegates included companies from the food, pharmaceutical and packaging sectors.
Andrew Horne, Client Manager of Invest NI’s Print and Packaging client team, says: “We know that the research being carried out in our universities in this field is world class and that if we can convert this into commercial applications we can give our local companies a huge advantage in the area of packaging technology.
“The benefit of a seminar like this is that it alerts companies to the potential for developing smart packaging, gives them access to local experts and creates a networking opportunity for the companies attending.“
The push for more advanced packaging is being driven by the demand for clearer information on packaging and increased functionality, as well as the need to cut down the amount of packaging waste going to landfill.
Gerry McNally of the Polymer Processing Research Centre at Queen’s University was one of the speakers. “Most packaging materials today are recyclable but we’re working on new polymers that are completely biodegradable,” he said. ”In the meantime, however, more needs to be done to recycle waste such as plastic bags. Over 350,000 tonnes of polyethylene is used every year in the making of plastic bags alone.”