Traceable Technology - Can Smart Technology really marry into Sustainable Packaging?

Can Smart Technology really marry into Sustainable Packaging?
We round up the strongest technological contenders for active and intelligent packaging.

What’s active and intelligent packaging got to do with the environment?
What’s being done to drive down the costs to companies?

In order to grasp the benefits of smart technology and how it can be used in conjunction with packaging, you need to first understand what might be driving the use of the two elements together. Consumers expect more from their brands: glitz, glamour and gloss, whilst on the flip side they want to see the companies they purchase from wearing environmental credentials on their sleeves, so they can enjoy their purchases guilt free.

So, where does Smart technology come in? Well, smart technology has been around for years and can be used for security purposes, to track and trace parcels, simply tell stories or add gimmickry to novel purchases. However, as the drive for sustainability reaches fever pitch, this technology has started to evolve in unforeseen ways and in 2017 was worth £13.78 billion, estimated to rise to £22.08 billion by 2023. How can this be? Surely something so technical, must cost more?

Simply put, companies have started to put their heads together to create low cost, ultra-thin electronics that can be embedded in paper and plastics. PragmatIC have joined forces with Muhlbauer, creator of RFID, to reduce costs. Companies like Kezzler think their serialisation technology can be merged into environmentally-friendly packaging by supporting the supply chain and signposting consumers with detailed information on how to recycle products. Whilst in Germany, Norway and Sweden a Deposit Return Scheme, where barcodes are scanned on bottles being returned, has resulted in 90% of bottles being recycled. This new generation of electronics uses less toxic resources, does not have an impact on standard recycling processes, weighs less and can track items, so what’s not to like?

Could it be used to track and trace the journey of plastics around the globe? In essence, knowing where the chain was broken, enables companies to plug the leak in their recycling systems, allowing better waste management. Thus, armed with this future, smart technology and sustainability do not have to be exclusive of one another, just take a look at CupClub. They use RFID technology to track returnable drinks alongside of cloud-based IoT software.

It's safe to say that smart technology does not come without its challenges and some companies still need to be convinced to invest in a technology that is perceived as expensive and leads brands away from their goals. However, what should not be overlooked is the value that can be added to the consumer experience through transparency and building brand trust. 

“This is only the tip of the iceberg.” Dan Bowyer, Drink Works.

“As the tech becomes an intrinsic part of the familiar eco-system people use everyday…’s a no-brainer for brands to incorporate it in their packaging.” Cameron Worth, Sharp End.

To discover more on how smart technology and sustainable packaging options could work for your product, talk to a member of the allpack® team. With twenty five years of experience and partnerships, our company could help to re-align your business goals and create a unique customer experience, that is less gimmick and more environmentally intelligent.