Analysing the value chain for a given product will eventually lead you to the crucial question of packaging. How much is needed? And how little is still enough? After all, foodstuffs need a long shelf life, for example, and hygiene standards must be maintained for personal care products. At both BIOFACH and VIVANESS 2022, being held this year from 26 to 29 July as a one-off «Summer Edition», visitors will get to know more than 60 exhibitors who have dealt in depth with the challenge of packaging vs. «unpacked», and will exhibit sustainable solutions. This subject will also be covered at the Congress, and “theme tours” will be available at both fairs.

biofach unpacked

Recommended Congress events at BIOFACH, the World’s Leading Trade Fair for Organic Food, and VIVANESS, International Trade Fair for Natural and Organic Personal Care, will illustrate the complexity and breadth of discussion from a range of perspectives. For example, experts will deal with the themes of «Reusable options in the organic trade» and «Value chains in unpackaged trading». The full Congress programme will be available online from the beginning of June.

Unpackaged themes, products and services covering all aspects of «zero waste»

The «Unpackaged» range of products and services in Hall 8 very impressively illustrates the growing relevance of this theme. The partners in this shared zone – Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development (HNEE), Unverpackt e.V., the trade association for unpackaged outlets in Germany and the German-speaking parts of the EU, and wholesaler and producer Bananeira – collectively show how unpackaged purchasing and doing business for the common good actually work and are constantly being refined.

The layout of the trade fair booth reflects the close interaction between all the players, and a range of scenes provides insights into the unpackaged supply chain, from the situation in the warehouse to the POS setup. According to Unverpackt e.V., the «unpackaged» concept has represented strong collaboration between shops, industry and research from the outset. The partners in this arrangement have long had functioning supply chains and deposit systems in place, which prove that «unpackaged» is also feasible from a logistical angle. Research is still being performed into ways of optimizing these processes and reducing waste volumes even further.

«Given the ongoing problem of waste disposal, unpackaged foodstuffs have lost none of their relevance», says Jonas Schmidle, Managing Director of Bananeira GmbH & Co. KG. «The unpackaged sector in Germany has become established, but is suffering from the repercussions of the pandemic and the global political situation. We supply to almost all unpackaged outlets in Germany, and are noticing the decline in sales volumes. But we’re remaining positive and productive, and are pulling closer together and working with the unpackaged outlets to overcome this crisis». Looking to the near future, he continues, «Right now, we’re working more closely with our customers in order to survive the crisis together. A new project on the theme of «100% German organic agriculture» has the potential to bolster the regional structures in the unpackaged organic sector».

What surprises does BIOFACH 2022 have in store?

Strong relevance at both trade fairs

When they registered, a total of 54 BIOFACH exhibitors and 10 VIVANESS exhibitors said that the subject of packaging would play an important part at their booth this year. Since VIVANESS is being held in Halls 8 and 9 this summer, because Hall 3C is being used as emergency accommodation for Ukrainian refugees, the trade fairs will also be physically closer this year. Anyone interested in sustainable packaging or unpackaged concepts and seeking to gain comprehensive insights will therefore benefit from the shorter distances between the two events. Taking part in the «Sustainability in the packaging industry» tours at the New Products stand is also recommended (times to be advised).

Create awareness; take responsibility

Consumers are increasingly paying attention to packaging, and the umbrella conditions are also gradually being put in place at a policy level. Florian Pachaly, Founder and Executive Partner of RECUP/REBOWL, comments: «The obligation to provide reusable products in the restaurant industry with effect from 2023 has put discussion about reusable vs. disposable on an entirely new footing. As a provider, our task is now to ensure the restaurant sector is best prepared for this legislation. We’re looking forward to this challenge, since we are already demonstrating that «reusable» can become the new standard, thanks to the more than 11,500 partner locations in our RECUP/REBOWL reuse system throughout Germany. Things will only be able to run smoothly for the environment when reuse is considered more important than discarding».

Awareness on the part of the manufacturers makes a big difference in the packaging movement: They are the ones making the decisions for – or against – packaging in the supply chain, in processing and in logistics. Brand managers know this, and are focusing on unconventional solutions and new materials. «It isn’t always possible to do without packaging, since the packaging often provides functional properties such as isolation», explains Patricia Eschenlohr, Founder and CMO of Landpack. «That’s when packaging made from sustainable materials should be used. It doesn’t always have to be paper. At Landpack, for example, we use straw to make isolating packaging that’s compostable», she concludes.

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