2021 has not been without its challenges but the packaging industry has maintained healthy growth and continued to bring innovative new solutions to market. According to ACTEGA, this is set to continue in 2022.
With innovation at the heart of the company’s approach and values, ACTEGA, manufacturer of specialty coatings, inks, adhesives and sealing compounds for the print and packaging industry, is committed to the development of new products and solutions that push boundaries, further support its global customer base, and take the company closer to its vision for a more sustainable, effective, and innovative industry. This vision is perfectly inline with a growing trend and increasing pressure for companies to support a more sustainable future for the print and packaging industry.
Thorsten Kröller, President, ACTEGA, explains, “Despite the ongoing challenges resulting from the pandemic, solutions that enable increased sustainability and recyclability of end products continue to be in highest demand. That’s largely because sustainability is at the centre of corporate responsibility programmes for manufacturers like us, as well as our printer and converter customers, and the brands they serve.”
“Also, for our industry to succeed long term, waste reduction is a key issue that must be addressed in 2022 and beyond. To achieve that, we believe that the whole industry needs to come together and act as one, with other key vendors and suppliers making packaging sustainability a key pillar of their business too.”
Thanks to continuous innovations and a clear focus on new technologies, ACTEGA was able to further diversify and strengthen its product portfolio while working on achieving its sustainability goals. Raw material and logistic challenges remaining from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as unexpected rise in raw material prices and a general shortage of consumables had an impact across all print and packaging sectors. Leveraging its market leadership, ACTEGA was able to ensure continuity in supply, as well as a regular and transparent communication with key customers, which was central in steering the company, and supporting its customers, through the COVID-19 economic downturn.
2021 was a positive year for ACTEGA’s paper and board business overall. The packaging market started to recover from global COVID-19 lockdown and also benefitted from the growing “green” trend, driving a major shift in demand from plastic to cardboard.
Addressing specific market requirements, ACTEGA focused on further improving the sustainability credentials of the company’s processes and products, as well as on the premiumisation of these products to achieve a high value finish for packaging. In addition, the company also focused on regulatory compliance, achieving important results in meeting the most stringent sustainability and product safety standards.
With the launch of ACTGreen® Barrier Coatings, a range of water-based barrier coatings and TPE dispersions for coating and binding, ACTEGA is now able to address the increasing demand for more sustainable practices in manufacturing. ACTEGA’s FoodSafe series was awarded the prestigious Gold level Material Health Certificate by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute
As business is expected to return to normal towards the second half of 2022 and many companies are once again prioritising innovation, ACTEGA will use its expertise to support potential and existing customers on this journey. Sustainability, digitalisation and premiumisation of printed products will emerge as key trends, while the continued tendency for brand owners to ‘re-shore’ their production, bringing it back to local suppliers, will contribute to the overall market recovery.
ACTEGA continues to strengthen its position and be at the forefront of this recovery. It will therefore prioritise the development of its high-quality, highly sustainable products with exceptional decorative and functional properties, including UV special varnishes, “Touch & Feel” coatings, and metallic effects. ACTEGA will also continue to leverage the company’s expertise – including in-house analytics, regional experts for product safety and a reliable knowledge of regulations and legal requirements in individual countries - to ensure the company continues to comply with and make significant advances in safety standards.
For flexible papers and plastics and alu foil, ACTEGA experienced a sharp growth in demand throughout 2021. Some of the company’s key target markets, including food and beverages, pet-food and pharmaceutical products, were overperforming as a direct consequence of COVID-19 restrictions, which resulted in increased demand for ACTEGA’s coatings and adhesives for flexible packaging.
Overall, 2021 was a positive year for the ACTEGA’s labels business worldwide. In Europe, the integration of ACTEGA Schmid Rhyner and its product portfolio contributed to ACTEGA’s expansion in flexo UV coatings for labels. In North America, the company benefitted from an increasing demand for essential goods, including food, beverage, and household items. ACTEGA was also well-positioned to support a growing trend among its customers to further diversify their product portfolios in order to better meet market demand. In China, ACTEGA focused on further penetrating the In-Mold Label (IML) market, offering more sustainable and food-safe solutions within its coatings range.
ACTEGA expanded its range of laminating adhesives for portion packs, stand up pouches, peel off end-membranes and cold form blisters. The company launched its heatseal coatings, based on unique water-based dispersions. The world’s first ‘soft touch’ effect decorative coating for laminate tubes was launched. The new water-based dual cure solution solves the previous issues of long-term scratch, abrasion and stain resistance associated with soft touch effects on laminate tubes and provides manufacturers of laminate and extruded tubes with a brand-new revenue stream to diversify their business.
ACTEGA became a partner in the Prethink Ink initiative, launched by the BASF to promote the sustainable benefits of water-based inks. ACTEGA expanded its range of shrink sleeve coatings and inks, with the aim of increasing the competitive edge of converters and brands. With a clear focus on flexible packaging growth in North America, Robbie King was appointed as Strategic Account Manager in the region.
Being the world largest packaging segment, the flexible packaging market is going through a phase of transition towards more sustainable and resource-efficient packaging solutions. ACTEGA expects to see sustainability and safety requirements drive further adoption of paper-based and aluminum-based packaging solutions, replacing plastic, as well as a wider use of green practices, including moves towards a circular economy, while the safety of materials will become a priority.
In order to address these trends, ACTEGA will continue to invest a significant amount of its R&D and technical support resources in projects supporting sustainability and safety improvements. As a result, it will develop new, environmentally responsible solutions, enabling customers to offer sustainable packaging, including the option to replace multilayers with monolayers or plastic with paper.
Although current challenges within the supply chain are expected to continue, ACTEGA predicts a growth in demand for eye-catching, impactful packaging solutions. Special visual and tactile effects, including haptics, creative designs, and transparencies, will be in high demand in the label and packaging market.
ACTEGA will address those increasing requirements by continuing to develop and innovate its offering, as well as boost further strategic, organic company growth through acquisitions. Customer service, technical support and a company-wide vision for improved sustainability remains a priority in 2022.
The business line’s product focus for labels will be on LED coatings and flexo inks for indirect food contact materials, special effects, and haptic coatings. Metallic coatings and inks for label production will also be a focus in 2022. In terms of markets, shrink sleeves will remain at the forefront, with the introduction of enhanced shrink sleeve ink systems, along with pressure sensitive and in mold labels.
Sustainability has become a central factor in consumers’ shopping preferences and in 2021, this resulted in a growing demand for sustainable food and beverage metal packaging. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire food and beverage industry experienced increased demand this year. Meeting this demand was, and remains, a major challenge due to the shortage of raw materials and limitations in the supply chain. However, it also continues to be a key priority for the business and ACTEGA’s customer-centric approach aims to support its valued global customer base to meet these additional market pressures.
ACTEGA has further expanded its portfolio of closure materials for food and beverages following the successful acquisition of the Henkel closure materials business in May 2021. In particular, this acquisition has strengthened its range of PVC-free solutions. With the market launch of the Rotarflow Service Package, ACTEGA has taken another step towards digitalizing weight management of sealants. Our solution enables automatic adjustment of sealant weights based on real-time data to keep application weights constant and drive sustainability.
As the first and only water-based sealant manufacturer, ACTEGA received the Food Safety System Certification 22000. This important recognition for ACTEGA’s responsible manufacturing processes acknowledges that these processes, and the conditions in which ACTEGA’s water-based sealants for metal packaging are produced, adhere to the strict food safety management practices for the food and beverage supply chain.
Metal Packaging is easily recycled and reused, saving raw materials and energy and reducing CO2 emissions. It therefore supports a circular economy and as a result, environmentally conscious brands are expected to consider this application for their sustainable packaging requirements in 2022 and beyond.
To meet this growing demand in the food and beverage industry, ACTEGA will remain focused on developing sustainable solutions for metal packaging in 2022, generating increased sustainable value for our customers, stakeholders, and the whole society. Our aim is to support the use of more sustainable end products, as well as promote green manufacturing processes, all while ensuring that quality or personalization possibilities are not compromised as a result.
However, the shortage of raw materials is expected to impact the availability of raw materials, including metal. As such, ACTEGA will continue to offer its expertise and support to customers in order to manage these challenges in the best possible way.
In order to realise significant sustainability improvements, pioneering new technologies need to be developed that address the key market trends and challenges faced by brands, printers and converters. This is why ACTEGA continually invests in R&D to establish and finesse new solutions for each of its business lines, as well as to further drive the adoption of its new, disruptive technologies – ECOLEAF and Signite™.
ECOLEAF is a sustainable metallization technology that aims to replace foil-based processes to significantly reduce the amount of material, foil waste, cost, and production time needed to create decorative metallic embellishments.
SigniteTM is a revolutionary label decoration process that allows brands to add decoration only where there are label graphics or content. This is because Signite label images are “face-stock” free and therefore, free of matrix waste that ends up in landfill. On average, Signite decorations are also one third the thickness of traditional pressure-sensitive labels, therefore, depending on the design of the label image, from 40%-80% less material is used in the creation of Signite™.
Signite label images are also designed to chemically release and wash off glass containers when exposed to a medium caustic detergent bath at temperatures above 75C. This makes them highly suitable for reusable glass packaging where commercial bottle washing is used, and a clean release of the label image away from glass is required.
In May 2021, Kolbe-Coloco became the first ECOLEAF customer to complete its beta program. As of June this year, Signite was officially launched and became commercially available in North America. Ex-Heidelberg Board Member, Stephan Plenz, joined the ECOLEAF team in October as interim General Manager of ACTEGA Metal Print.
With sustainability at the top of brand and converters’ agendas in 2022, the interest in and adoption of ECOLEAF next year and beyond will accelerate at a significant pace. The wealth of environmental benefits enabled by the Signite decoration process makes this solution a truly transformative technology for low-waste, efficiently recyclable consumer product packaging. We expect more companies across a variety of sectors in North America to embrace this technology in 2022.