PMMI report highlights role for OEMs in achieving sustainability

May 28, 2020

It can be difficult to see the link between plastics processing machinery and sustainability. 

For machinery, it is all about tonnage and speed and roll width and throughputs. Everything is precise and measurable. For sustainability, it is about reduction and recyclability. Sustainability can be a difficult concept to get your arms around and even more difficult to measure. 

But plastics processing machinery buyers are starting to think about sustainability when choosing new equipment, according to a report from PMMI Business Intelligence, the research arm of PMMI, the Association for Packaging and Processing TechnologiesThe trade group is headquartered in Herndon, Va. 

The report, published in March, is titled “Packaging Sustainability: A Changing Landscape.” 

PMMI Business Intelligence surveyed 60 executives of companies in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) sector. CPG are items that are used daily by average consumers that require routine replacement or replenishment such as food, beverages, clothes, tobacco, makeup and household products. Plastic is the leading material for CPG packaging, according to a new report from the Plastics Industry Association (see story, Page 48). 

About 25 percent of the executives said they make machine purchases or modifications specifically to address packaging sustainability goals. “Solutions such as integrated monitoring and more flexible machinery can improve packaging operations with improvements to overall equipment effectiveness or by offering less waste,” according to the report. 

While the PMMI report deals only with packaging machinery and lines, the five desirable improvements it lists could benefit other plastics processing sectors.  Here they are, using the explanations from the report’s executive summary. 

  • Reliability. Machines need to reliably handle a wide range of substrates, sizes and shapes. When making adjustments on any part of the machine, there should be an indicator that signals parameters have been accurately achieved. 
  • Flexibility. Equipment must account for material variances as the trend of lightweighting continues to grow. In general, new machines need to be easier to use, service and clean. 
  • Automated changeover. Machines need more precise settings to achieve greater accuracy when moving from SKU to SKUwhich could include material or size changes. Strive to standardize and simplify changeover procedures. 
  • Cleanability. Cleanability is top of mind. Manufacturers want machines that use less water and fewer chemicals while still meeting hygienic standards. 
  • Sensor feedback. Improved online sensors are needed to monitor scrap levelsprovide predictiveand preventative-maintenance alerts; track quality; measure yieldtrack energy and water consumption; and monitor temperature, time and pressure. 

The ability to use more post-consumer resin content was a recurring theme among the CPG manufacturers. 

To help their customers eliminate waste and meet sustainability goals, machinery makers have to continue developing primary and auxiliary equipment that is smarter and easier to use. That is the contribution machinery builders can make to the circular economy. 

The entire report on changes in sustainable packaging is available for purchase on the PMMI website at 

I believe in NPE 

Companies that spend hundreds of thousands of dollars or more to exhibit at NPE are understandably nervous about how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact NPE2021. Will the show go on? Will the attendees come? 

We may not be shaking hands, but I believe we will greet each other in Orlando next year and marvel at the technology on display. 

I don’t have inside information, but the show is a year away and I believe we will have this virus under control and business will return by then. 

Susan Krys, the Plastics Industry AssociationVP for trade shows, sent an upbeat letter to the more than 1,100 exhibitors in late March. 

“We anticipate that things will turn around in the coming months, leading up to an especially vibrant and necessary NPE2021 that will provide the entire industry a platform to recapture lost revenue and business opportunities, and the chance to see colleagues and old friends once again,” she wrote.  

NPE2021 will have to operate under whatever rules and best practices the state of Florida, Orange County and the Orange County Convention Center dictate for next May. Too much will happen between now and then to know now what those rules will be. 

I attended Chinaplas during the SARS pandemic in 2003 and other than having to queue up to have their temperatures taken when they entered the exhibit hall each morning or while going between halls during the day, showgoers adapted and business was accomplished.  

We can bump elbows when we meet in Orlando. 

Ron Shinn, editor

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