AMB discusses latest sustainability innovations

Food packaging specialist, AMB Spa, headquartered in San Daniele del Friuli, Italy, has established a reputation as one of the leading international suppliers of rigid and flexible films with a firm foothold in sustainability. The company currently has five locations in Europe and is unique in offering an end-to-end process: from packaging design to toolmaking and prototype production to film production, printing and lamination. With its commitment to research and innovation and its all-in-one-place approach, AMB has long been a pioneer of sustainability. At Interpack 2023 from 4-10 May in Duesseldorf, Germany, the company will present its latest innovations in this field.

Interpack spoke to Swan Cecatto, sustainability manager at AMB, about what makes AMB different, current challenges and the growing importance of innovation to find sustainable solutions.

Thank you for this interview, Swan Cecatto. Firstly, could you tell us more about AMB’s presence at Interpack?

Of course. Interpack is one of the largest and most significant trade shows for us in the packaging sector. We are excited to present our full range eco-friendly mono films AMB TotalMono PET and AMB Mono PE Flowpack, as well as our solution for tray-to-tray recycling AMB Tray Revive. AMB state of the art packaging solutions are found in the dairy and food markets as well as the pharmaceutical industry. This year two of interpack’s designated Hot Topics, the circular economy and resource management, are topics that are of upmost importance to us at AMB and to which we have devoted substantial amounts of our research and development efforts. This is why our company-wide drive for sustainability is making big strides towards closing the loop of the circular economy.

How does AMB approach innovation and sustainability? What systems do you have in place?

As you know, we have an all-in-one-place approach, and this allows us to be very holistic. For AMB, innovation begins by listening to our customers, their clients and the consumer as well as taking into account current and upcoming national and EU legislation. Our in-depth customer relations allow us to shape ideas that have in recent years revolved more and more around concerns for the environment and our planet. After this, ideas are taken through an internal stage-gate process that guides the development of new products step-by-step and allows us to maximise sustainability at every stage. It is also important to note that during this process we collaborate closely with all our partners from the suppliers to the recyclers. All our solutions are centred around ensuring food safety, reducing food waste, and enhancing sustainability. Our goal is to drive the recyclability of packaging, stop the continuously growing generation of packaging waste, and minimise food waste.

One of this year’s Hot Topics at Interpack is the circular economy. What is AMB doing in this direction?

The European Green Deal aims to boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean and circular economy. Circularity is in our mind-set: one important step on this path was the development of recyclable packaging. Being proactive in packaging circularity is crucial. With our tray-to-tray recycling initiative, the AMB Tray Revive, develop the PET trays recyclability creating a demand for this value secondary raw material. This project, which we developed as part of our overall sustainability strategy, is very successful. It utilises post-consumer trays to create films which are then used to produce form fill seal packs and new thermoformed trays. It was launched in collaboration with an Italian recycler. The post consumed material is broken down into flakes which are then used to manufacture tray-to-tray products. This means that our customers are able to offer their customers guarantees of recyclability and sustainability – an important factor when appealing to today’s eco-conscious consumers and avoid greenwashing claims.

How does PET reflect AMB’s commitment to sustainability?

According to the EU PPWR proposal, packaging needs to be fully designed for recycling by 2030 and by 2035 recycled at scale, means be converted into recycled raw materials with sufficient quality to replace raw materials of virgin origin. At AMB we have forged ahead to develop mono PET solutions that are compliant with these guidelines as of today. Our AMB Mono PET solutions boost sustainability in many different ways. By downgauging we have developed lower thicknesses that need less plastic in production, which means that more product can be manufactured with the same amount of material. We are not just fully committed to the circular economy but also to minimising the overall use of resources and the production of waste. Our LCA studies and EPD communications have highlight that move to mono PET high barrier could led to reduction of GWP fossil up to 20%. Moreover, our PET mono high barrier obtained the PETCORE endorsement will not have a negative influence on current EU trays recyclability stream. Resource management, another Hot Topic at this year’s Interpack, has been a driver of our sustainability strategy for many years. We are pioneers in the use of recycled PET and in 2021 thanks the use of recycled inputs materials we avoided more than 103K tonnesCO2eq emission.

How does RPET impact food safety?

At AMB we ensure the quality of our rPET products thanks our quality system management and by implementing super-cleaning processes that decontaminate recycled materials and that meets the requirements of the new regulation on recycled plastic for food contact application.

Our products preserve food in an extremely secure and safe manner throughout the food chain. They meet the highest standards in food protection and have qualities that lead to a significant extension of shelf life and, as a result, a reduction in food waste. We have measured our food safety culture among our employees and thanks to continuous training activities, 95% of our employees obtained a great/high level.

Can you give us more examples of AMB’s holistic approach to sustainability?

We are conscious that to develop a sustainable packaging is crucial to have a comprehensive view of the impacts across the industry value chain. Which is why we do not stop our developments in eco-design of our products, but we get act in effectively recycling them and analyse their impacts throughout their entire lifecycle. Climate change is one of the most pervasive and threatening issues of our time. In 2023 we started to evaluate our carbon footprint following ISO 14064 that is a valuable first step towards making quantifiable emission reduction.

Apart from the points I have already mentioned, we strive to boost sustainability in all divisions of our company. Even in the tooling division. Here we encourage the use of materials that have a lower environmental impact to allow for sustainable waste management. Most of the materials used in the tooling processes are reusable. Steel and aluminium can be recycled indefinitely. They are never fully used up and are therefore in line with the principles of circular economy. Any residues are sent to special processing plants where they can be retransformed through recycling processes. A further example is provided by our printing unit which uses water-based printing instead of solvents good for the environment and good for the safety of our employees As I mentioned, we make sure that all new projects entering our stage-gate process start with sustainability in mind. Our goal is to have 100% of our innovation projects firmly rooted in sustainability by 2025 and to guarantee at least 30% of recycled content by this time.

What challenges is AMB facing?

One of our challenges is complying with the European Green Deal which has defined a very clear path for the packaging industry – by 2035 packaging must be recycled at scale. Like all companies in the packaging sector, AMB has been strongly impacted by this target. Due to our own belief in circularity and recyclability we have become pioneers in this field. We will continue to press ahead to establish circularity as well eco-processes and eco-design in all our divisions. I’d like to add that this change is also driven by retailers and consumers who are demanding more sustainable products, and is accompanied by international organisations, policy makers and NGOs, all of whom are striving to reach international sustainability targets. At AMB we consider ourselves to be at the cutting edge of an unstoppable movement.

How will AMB’s philosophy aid you in this process?

Acting ethically and with integrity, respecting people and caring for the planet has always been at the heart of our decisions. We act with sustainability in mind because we believe it is the right thing to do and we want to be not just a viewer but being an advocate for change. We are committed to providing packaging that guarantees food safety and that underlines our commitment to eco-design, circularity, and intelligent resource management. In our sustainability report we describe all our pillars in environmental, social and governance (ESG) areas.

Under AMB has created a specific Interpack website, an online booking service is available as from 14 March 2023.

Visit AMB Spa at Interpack Hall 9 Stand C04

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