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Graphic Packaging Partners With Morrisons To Redefine Sustainable Meat Packaging Thanks to Next-Generation Tray Technology

Graphic Packaging International (Graphic Packaging), a global leader in sustainable consumer packaging, has partnered with UK supermarket giant Morrisons to revolutionise the packaging for its private label steak portfolio with a first-to-market, photographic print pressed board tray.

One of four recyclable paperboard tray solutions to be introduced by the retailer for its premium, core, and entry-level steak lines, the move will eliminate 250 metric tons of plastic per year from its supply chain. The premium trays are the first on the market to incorporate Graphic Packaging's advanced photo-quality print technology on the face of the tray, marking a significant evolution of its pressed board tray portfolio and creating unique branding opportunities for the retailer.

The core range is produced with unbleached paperboard, creating a kraft look, while the entry-level 'Savers' range is produced with bleached paperboard, providing clear aesthetic differentiation between the ranges.

The pressed trays are vacuum sealed, offering equivalent shelf life to plastic, and run on packer Morrisons Manufacturing's existing equipment with no investment required.

Lauren Hutchinson, new business sales director, trays & cups at Graphic Packaging, commented on the launch, saying, "We are delighted for the Morrisons team. Thanks to their passion, collaborative spirit, and commitment, the adoption of our latest tray innovation allows them to not only further their progress toward their plastic reduction goals but also take advantage of the unique branding opportunities presented by our new print technology.

"This commercialisation is the result of close collaboration between the Morrisons team and three of our sites--Winsford in the UK, and Lund and Tibro in Sweden. We combined the strength of our global network with a clear focus on local customer service to deliver tailored innovations that delivered packaging excellence to Morrisons and their consumers."

Dan Barnes, procurement manager at Morrisons, added, "We know British shoppers look for packaging that helps them reduce their plastic consumption while also providing quality and value in their purchases, and we're committed to delivering on these priorities. Our partnership with Graphic Packaging is a great one, as we worked towards our shared goal of delivering innovative, easily recyclable, paperboard packaging that meets the needs of our consumers."

The pressed board vacuum skin (VSP) trays are ideal for a wide range of fresh food applications, including deli meats, cheeses, fish, and more. The addition of photo-quality print that can cover the full face of the tray--plus four-color print capability on the back of the tray-- unlocks near-unlimited branding opportunities.

Sometimes in business, a partnership is formed where two company's values, missions and skillsets perfectly align and enable real progress. Such is the case with BOBST and Huhtamaki, who have joined forces with the aim of revolutionizing sustainable packaging.

Huhtamaki is a Finnish-based global player in the flexible packaging industry, which specializes in sustainable packaging solutions, and is committed to making packaging more circular. For BOBST, sustainability is an integral part of its industry vision to shape the future of the packaging world, and one of its four key pillars - along with digitalization, automation and connectivity.

Both companies realized many years ago that the global drive towards more sustainable packaging presented opportunities for innovative companies to pioneer new solutions that could have a major global impact. Solutions that are recyclable and economically viable, without compromising on their primary purpose of safeguarding the products within.

The two companies first joined forces when BOBST and its partners developed a high-barrier, paper-based, recycle-ready solution, which Huhtamaki validated by making it into a full customer ready solution on commercial scale equipment for the first time.

Since then, the partnership has gone from strength to strength, as the companies discovered how their mutual commitment to innovation in sustainability could expedite the development of new solutions.

Now, the collaboration has generated a broad product range, from base to maximum barrier level, able to replace current aluminum-foil structures. The range consists of fully recyclable solutions using metallization technology, in both mono PE and paper. Crucially, current recycling streams will be able to sort and recycle the new solutions.

The collaboration with BOBST has proven invaluable in fast-tracking the project. BOBST's competence centers - where customers can view, understand and test printing and converting solutions - have provided the perfect means to expedite the development of the project. The testing quickly provided assurance that the solutions are practically viable, and meet the needs of brand owners, converters, consumers and recyclers.

"BOBST and Huhtamaki share the same goals around sustainability, and we are delighted that our partnership and the use of our competence centers has helped to fast track this important project," said Nick Copeland, R&D Director at BOBST. "The new solutions will certainly meet demands for eco-friendly options in both plastic and paper, helping to lead the industry towards a more sustainable future."

The new product range of sustainable solutions - which will include ultra-high barrier PE and paper flexible packaging solutions - will be launched by Huhtamaki in 2024 and will be available across multiple markets.

"This project really highlights the benefits of collaboration in our industry," said Jonas Lindh, Head of Global Marketing & Strategic Business Development, Flexible Packaging at Huhtamaki. "More sustainable packaging is not a 'nice to have' option, it is an essential deliverable for society, and it is through partnerships with genuine innovators like BOBST that breakthroughs in this area are possible. We are excited to see the positive impact of these new solutions in the months and years ahead."

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