Ontzi organizes the event Good practices and keys in the management of packaging from the different links of the food chain

  • ontzi | BASQUE FOOD PACKAGING Innovation Hub, the Food Packaging Innovation Community of the Basque Country, reaches 380 member agents

  • On June 12, a working group will be launched to identify and prioritize challenges, and on June 19 a meeting will be held in Bilbao with startups that offer sustainable packaging solutions

The Gipuzkoa Chamber of Commerce hosted a new meeting of ontzi | BASQUE FOOD PACKAGING Innovation Hub, focused on publicising the strategies of leading companies that are already responding to the challenges facing the food chain on the road to obtaining more sustainable, safe and attractive packaging for consumers. In this way, the day gave rise to sharing the vision of the different links in this chain, with the help of a large team of professionals.

In the introduction, the Director of ELIKA Fundazioa, Arantza Madariaga, celebrated that the Food Packaging Innovation Community of the Basque Country has already managed to reach 380 adhered agents since its launch in October 2023, thus highlighting the importance of networking, from collaboration, to facilitate the transition to new types of packaging.

This was followed by three round tables that offered the perspectives of food packaging from the various points of view of the chain. The first of them brought together Amaia Ortiz de Elguea, head of Sustainability at Uvesco; Cristina Cantero, Sustainability Coordinator of Kaiku; Daniel del Olmo, R&D marketing manager of Natra; and Aitor San Francisco, CEO of Bilibin Circular. Moderated by Irati Bejarano (BASQUE FOOD CLUSTER), it served to present the conclusions of the EkodisFOOD project, in which the aforementioned companies have participated with the aim of reducing the environmental impact of the packaging of some of their products through eco-design methodologies.

Among the lessons learned, they highlighted the need to raise awareness and involve the different departments of the company, since eco-design covers the entire life cycle of the product, as well as the importance of the communicative part to train consumers in sustainability and make them aware of the achievements made thanks to the changes made to the packaging.

The second of the tables gave rise to a deepening of the vision of packaging manufacturers and packers, analysing the difficulties of access to new materials and the need to harmonise European regulations in relation to the use of plastic. By Víctor Borrás, CCO of Knauf Industries Spain; Albert Valldeperes, marketing manager of Enplater; and Andrea Martínez, head of sustainable packaging at Vicky Foods, emphasis was placed on the availability of materials as a key factor in achieving the European goal of achieving 50% recycling in plastic packaging by 2025.

In the conversation, led by Nuria Herranz (ITENE), they agreed to call for the need to unify criteria and requirements at the European level, in order to be able to compete on equal terms with the rest of the countries. Likewise, it was urged to take into account the ‘machinability’ of the new materials, that is, that their introduction into the circuit implies the least number of changes in industrial machinery, given the high cost it entails for companies.

Finally, the last of the debates shed light on the opportunities and challenges involved in the reuse and practical implementation of regulations in this area, thanks to the interventions of María Segura, head of Food Safety and Environment at ACES – Association of Spanish Supermarket Chains; Galo Álvarez, Director of Sustainability at Vidrala; José María Carrasco, CEO and CFO of Iberia Cartonplast; Paula Cinto, Public Affairs Manager at Ecovidrio; and Germán Casado, head of Beverages and Dairy at Ecoembes.

The round table was moderated by Belén García (PACKNET), and highlighted the high recycling rate at the national level ―top 10 in Europe― and the good practices of the glass sector and its extensive experience in the field of packaging reuse in the HORECA sector, as a benchmark for other sectors. The concern of the distribution sector was also expressed about the major changes in stores and retail stores that the new regulations will require, as well as the absence of guarantees in the control of the traceability of reusable packaging once it is in the hands of consumers.

To close the day, the director of BASQUE FOOD CLUSTER, Jon Ander Egaña, announced the next steps in the ontzi calendar of activities. On 12 June, the Cluster’s facilities (Zamudio Technology Park, Bizkaia) will host a session dedicated to the implementation of the working group for the identification and prioritisation of challenges to be addressed. And a week later, on June 19, a meeting with startups that offer sustainable packaging solutions will take place at the B Accelerator Tower (BAT) in Bilbao, organized by the European consortium EIT Food.