• Amcor's European Innovation Centre in Ghent, Belgium.
    Amcor's European Innovation Centre in Ghent, Belgium.

Amcor has expanded its packaging innovation hubs around the world with the recent opening of its European Innovation Centre in Ghent, Belgium.

The Amcor Innovation Centre Europe (AICE) joins the innovation hubs already existing in the Asia-Pacific region, the US and South America, and will partner with brands and retailers from across the region to design packaging that delivers better results for consumers and the environment.

The AICE will pioneer new material technologies to make packaging more sustainable and performant, while focusing on designs that stand out in shops and increase ease-of-use for consumers.

“The opening of the AICE is a significant investment towards more sustainable, circular and innovative packaging,” said Michael Zacka, president of Amcor Flexibles EMEA.

“The centre brings together the brightest minds in packaging design and material science with state-of-the-art technology to offer our customers a complete brand solution – from concept to commercial launch.”

In its European Innovation Centre, Amcor supports brands using its Catalyst approach – Amcor’s flexible, collaborative and creative co-development methodology that creates packaging solutions that take into account a brand’s market, consumer needs, sustainability and recyclability requirements, and customers’ existing production lines.

To support this end-to-end collaborative process, the AICE facilitates a range of activities, including:

  • The Material Science Centre creates innovative packaging materials that can drive down packaging’s carbon footprint; for instance, by introducing recycle-ready mono-material solutions that can match the performance of common mixed-material solutions; or switching to bio-based and recycled polymer alternatives. The Centre also supports developments in high-barrier paper packaging and vapour-deposited nano-coating. In the analytical labs, new materials are tested using the most advanced techniques.
  • The Customer Engagement Centre supports collaborative sessions and boasts an observation room for consumer focus groups. Packaging appeal and usability can be tested in an on-site retail simulation area, plus in kitchen, living room and bathroom settings where consumers and marketers alike can interact with packaging. The on-site prototyping lab can quickly create different packaging solutions for test participants to try out.
  • The E-Commerce Lab tests and certifies packaging according to ISTA 6 standards, to validate packaging for shipment through Amazon and other ecommerce distribution chains.
  • The soon-to-be-added Packaging and Recycling Test Centre will house small-scale packing lines, which mimic brands’ own packing lines for in-house machine trials. Recycling equipment will allow Amcor to evaluate packaging for ease of recyclability in the real world.

“We want to create packaging that consumers like, and that is better for the environment,” said Noemi Bertolino, vice-president of Research & Development.

“The packaging needs to look appealing, and be easy to open, portion and close. It also needs to be suitable for current and future collection, sorting and recycling infrastructure.

“At the AICE, we can test packaging against these requirements. For example, in our Customer Engagement Centre, we can test whether a child-resistant push-through blister pack for pharmaceuticals is easy for an adult with arthritis to open.”

Amcor has set ambitious sustainability goals for itself, pledging to develop all its packaging to be recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025, and to significantly increase its use of recycled materials.

In line with this sustainability commitment, the AICE is housed in a building that is designed and built according to BREEAM sustainability certification standards.

Michael Zacka, president of Amcor Flexibles EMEA and Noemi Bertolino, vice-president of R&D cut the ribbon on the new Amcor Innovation Centre Europe.
Michael Zacka, president of Amcor Flexibles EMEA and Noemi Bertolino, vice-president of R&D cut the ribbon on the new Amcor Innovation Centre Europe.

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