UNIQUE VARIETY

Plastic film packaging for paper hygiene products can be relied on protect the product and serve its purpose in a dependable way. This packaging is very efficient and the process is a stable one, but the market is changing. Increasingly, consumers are demanding alternatives to plastic film. At the same time, there is an unprecedented opportunity to broaden the range of paper hygiene products and packaging. The watchword here is to stand out. Sustainable packaging is opening up new opportunities.
Consumers' needs are continuing to evolve, along with the technical means to fulfill them in a highly efficient way. Top quality, beautiful design, reasonable price? Everything is possible. In all likelihood, the trend towards diversity will continue to grow in the paper hygiene products sector, too. Another aspect of this diversity is the sustainability movement. Consumers are increasingly demanding alternatives to plastic packaging. Even these needs can be met in a thoughtful and efficient way, too. Pursuing the notion of diversification even further, different qualities of products and packaging are already emerging, and these are opening up new opportunities. "Precision in terms of packaging and finishing that has never been seen before, as well as transformed processes, materials, and packaging types – these are the new starting points," says Oliver Rebstock, Managing Director of Optima Nonwovens. Doing away with plastic, which is what is frequently called for, also fits into this new diversity concept.
Change is the only constant
In North America and Europe in particular, consumers are looking at how their actions impact the environment and the climate. "At the moment, paper packaging is clearly in the lead in terms of alternative packaging materials," reports Rebstock. A lot of attention is also being devoted to biologically-produced plastics. There are ongoing projects in both the paper packaging and bioplastics sectors. Why not see this trend as an opportunity? When you look at the paper hygiene products on the supermarket shelves, no single brand or packaging stands out. Therefore, it seems logical to talk about packaging's unused marketing potential. It will be exciting to see how we can exploit this potential more effectively. In mechanical engineering companies, it always comes down to technology in the end. However, Optima Nonwovens wants to provide customers with the right answers to market changes from the get-go, so it has gone beyond keeping a "watchful" eye on the latest trends. Consumers' needs are continuing to evolve, along with the technical means to fulfill them in a highly efficient way. Top quality, beautiful design, reasonable price? Everything is possible. In all likelihood, the trend towards diversity will continue to grow in the paper hygiene products sector, too. Another aspect of this diversity is the sustainability movement. "Optima Nonwovens has been working closely with packaging material manufacturers for a long time; it has been gaining experience and has already carried out many successful trials using new materials," explains the Managing Director, but that is by no means the whole story.
"Precision in terms of packaging and finishing that has never
been seen before, as well as transformed processes, materials, and packaging types – these are the new starting points."


Oliver Rebstock, Managing Director of Optima Nonwovens
Venturing into more designs
At the Index and Interpack trade shows, Optima Nonwovens will be presenting new and/or modified and improved machine concepts and processing methods. These will make it possible to achieve visible, distinguishing features in terms of top-quality packaging. This means that customers who pursue diversification will have a choice of individual function modules and upgrades, or even a new machine type. The Zero machine, which was already presented at the last Index trade show, continues to be promising for the future – individual, personalized packaging is very exciting in this context.
 
Implementation of new innovative ideas as part of the Optima DNA
In every detail: High-quality design and design "out of the box": At Optima, the efficient implementation of new, innovative ideas is part of the company DNA.

MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC
Venturing into more designs 
and grabbing attention at the POS

Optima Nonwovens has developed a four-step method to systematize the diversification pathway. The "degree of abstraction" continues to grow over four steps.
  1. Same shape, different material: for example, bioplastics or paper packaging

  2. New adaptation: familiar types of packaging that are finding a new use with paper hygiene products.

  3. New added value: new features and processes mean that it is now possible to create advantages such using less material, or displays that look perfectly arranged at the POS.

  4. "Out of the box": rethinking. The technical implementation of individual and previously unfamiliar concepts for product presentation.
Supporting synergies with new packaging concepts
Experts like Dominik Bröllochs, Key Account Manager at Optima Nonwovens, are working to drive these developments forward. Flexible lateral thinking and a degree of start-up mentality are important factors here. In addition – and this is another significant advantage – the entire Optima Group has an unparalleled concentration of technology. Packaging for cosmetics, food, and life science products can be a source of inspiration or can even develop into a technology partnership within the group. Time and again this results in synergetic projects. One thing remains unchanged: the core competence of Optima Nonwovens. This includes moving fragile, unstable paper hygiene products at maximum speeds, careful handling and transportation, and using the same care when stacking, arranging, and compressing them. For Optima, the question of which packaging materials and forms are used to package paper hygiene products is of secondary importance, according to Rebstock. This versatility is already Optima Nonwovens' "day-to-day reality", Rebstock adds. For example, femcare products are currently packaged in foil or cardboard boxes. For toilet rolls, paper or plastic film bags are used. Projects with completely new methods and alternative ideas are also emerging.  
Honest packaging
Admittedly, marketing and ecology do not always go hand in hand. If you scratch the surface even slightly, the first signs of discord may already start to appear, quickly making a promising relationship unlikely. Bröllochs believes that if a visible layer of paper is hiding just another plastic film, then this is a disadvantage from an ecological point of view. These composites are much more costly or even impossible to recycle, unlike pure PE films. Believing that they are buying an ecologically friendly product, sooner or later the consumer will be disappointed to discover that they have been misled by false promises. Consequently, this is neither environmentally beneficial nor a positive factor for the packaging company – quite the opposite, according to Bröllochs and Rebstock.
Diversity of different Packaging materials
A wide variety of packaging materials is now available for every type of use. Optima is collaborating closely with a range of material manufacturers.
Optima Nonwovens has proven that there is another way and that it is possible to produce pure paper bags (read: The 100-Percent Solution). The reality is that paper bags are less elastic than plastic film, but paper bag production can now be controlled almost as well, so in the end, these packages can be just as taut as plastic film bags. Even the jumbo packaging for toilet paper that is popular in the USA and Europe can be made of paper. 
100 % paper packaging for paper hygiene products
And the good news is that Optima Nonwovens' existing packaging lines can usually be converted to handle the new tasks. Depending on the initial situation and the specific requirements, a range of minor to more extensive changes may need to be made to the process. Ecology, design – or both? Everything is possible. At Index and Interpack 2021, Optima Nonwovens will be offering indepth insights into alternatives to current packaging materials, designs, and processes – and especially into new market opportunities. Oliver Rebstock, Dominik Bröllochs, and lots of other experts are looking forward to meeting you!
Information
IMPORTANT FOR YOU
  • The market is on the move: diversification can be achieved by improving the quality of packaging.

  • People are increasingly demanding alternative packaging materials: bioplastics and, above all, paper packaging for paper hygiene products.

  • "Honest Packaging": Optima Nonwovens offers packaging that is 100 % paper. Composites made of film and with a paper surface offer no benefits, either for the environment or for packaging companies.

  • New features and processes for top-quality packaging: find out all about it at Index and Interpack 2021.


This report has been published in the O-COM Special Edition April 2020.

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