• PE-based AmSky is designed for recycling in rigid and flexible recycling streams.
    PE-based AmSky is designed for recycling in rigid and flexible recycling streams.

In this Q&A with PKN editor Colleen Bate, Scott Jackson, general manager, Southeast Asia Healthcare at Amcor, discusses how Amcor’s new ISO 13485-certified medical packaging facility in Singapore will drive sustainable change in the healthcare packaging industry, and more.

How will the Singapore plant drive sustainable healthcare packaging?

The new facility in Singapore is exciting for us; we’ve made significant investment to help drive a more sustainable future.

One of the things we have at the site is water-based printing technology, so we don’t emit solvent into the atmosphere as part of our printing process. The facility also has new blown film lines that are highly efficient and can produce ready-to-recycle products. And we’ve invested in multi-layer blown film lines, so we’ve got higher capability than we previously had, and that allows us to scope for new product innovation with a lower carbon footprint.

Our focus is really to drive advancements in coextrusion blown film technology, to produce sustainable packaging that fully satisfies the healthcare industry’s stringent needs around safety and regulatory requirements.

Having these innovation capabilities and the assets and the infrastructure surrounding us, and being able to offer them to our customers, allows us to be more nimble and help shorten the lead time to market and get products out there that are sustainable.

How will Amcor’s shift to producing sustainable healthcare packaging meet growing industry demand?

Scott Jackson, GM SEA Healthcare at Amcor.
Scott Jackson, GM SEA Healthcare at Amcor.

One of the undeniable trends is the increasing consumer demand for more sustainable products. It’s reshaping the packaging industry and creating a powerful incentive for companies to lead through innovation. There’s growing interest from government to invest in environmental and social governance. And I think we’re going to see that continue to drive sustainable change for the packaging industry.

The infrastructure needed to handle and process recycled material is an important consideration as well. It’s also important for countries around the world to have access to the right amount of recycled material to be able to deliver upon the commitment of putting recycled material back into production.

Amcor helps drive cross-industry standards that can make the packaging that we produce not only more responsible and sustainable, but also visible to the end consumer.

Innovations are needed to help to continue to focus on recyclability, reusability and to reduce the carbon footprint. At the same time, we need to be able to meet stringent standards, especially for the healthcare industry.

For us, it’s an exciting time. We recently announced customer trials for AmSky, the world’s first recyclable polyethylene-based thermoform blister packaging. It is a more sustainable and carbon footprint optimised alternative for in-demand healthcare packaging. Based on polyethylene (PE), it is designed for recycling in rigid and flexible recycling streams.

Our customers are responding well to AmSky, which when produced, achieves approximately 70 per cent reduction in the carbon footprint.

How is AMCOR helping other industry players transition to sustainable healthcare packaging?

It’s dynamic and changing at a more rapid pace than we have ever seen before. As a leading global packaging company, we’re uniquely positioned to provide customers with a global approach to innovation, and we’re probably the only packaging company with the size and scale to establish a Global Innovation Network, and to foster and reward new ideas and create that continuum of innovation. This allows customers and partners to tap into our expertise to help realise what’s possible.

Amcor also has a proprietary technology called Advanced Sustainability Stewardship Evaluation Tool (ASSET), which is a life-cycle assessment service using a Carbon Trust-certified toolkit to improve the environmental performance of packaging solutions for our customers.

ASSET works by considering each step of the packaging lifecycle. It starts with the source of the raw materials wherever they are from in the world, and then looks at how they are harvested and produced. It also brings into consideration the energy used to transform them into packaging materials; and looks at water consumption levels, emissions into the environment, transport to get it to where it needs to be and then, the end-use packaging.

It helps customers compare options in packaging, material, and design, and ultimately assists in identifying opportunities for improving environmental performance.

How will Amcor deliver on its promise to make all its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025?

Innovation is a central element to our approach to sustainability.

We spend $100 million a year globally on R&D which is really focused on delivering our pledge to develop all our packaging to be recyclable or reusable by 2025.

The strategy that we have around sustainability goes beyond just our pledge – we also have an overarching strategy that sets a clear direction around safety, operations, and talent. And then we’ve got a long-standing Eco-action Program, where we are also focused on greenhouse gas emissions and operational waste.

Amcor is looking to deliver across three core requirements of responsible packaging: innovation, infrastructure, and consumer participation.

We’ve made really good progress so far towards meeting our pledge. If we look at the figures in our sustainability report from June last year, US$7.7 billion of our global revenue was from packaging that was designed to be recycled. So that comprises about 74 per cent of our total production.

Our flexible packaging portfolio has historically presented as one of the biggest design challenges for recyclability. We’ve really got to move the needle in flexible packaging, and the innovation and the activity we’re doing around our operations is really helping drive that.

Do you think there is a fully sustainable packaging future close to the horizon?

There’s always going to be a role for packaging and think the pandemic has taught us that. Amcor is leading the industry towards truly responsible packaging.

I look at our innovations and I think we’ve set the benchmark for sustainability to make us the partner of choice for those customers committed to responsible packaging. Admittedly, there is a lot more work to be done.

An innovation worth mentioning is AmPrima, which is a portfolio of recycle ready packaging solutions currently available in a range of PE formats, designed to be recycled with no compromise on performance.

There are several others that we’re currently working on, which we believe will drive real progress.

This article was published in the May-June 2022 print issue of PKN Packaging News, p12.

Amcor’s new medical packaging facility for Asia Pacific.
Amcor’s new medical packaging facility for Asia Pacific.

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