Efficiency & technology

Innovation management – working today on the packaging of tomorrow

To remain the market leader in the face of global competition, you have to proactively embrace trends and plan innovations strategically. ALPLA has initiated numerous innovation management activities in recent years and has established a vibrant culture of innovation.

ALPLA’s innovation team analyses trends and considers the needs and future requirements of the customers and consumers, drawing among other things on the expertise of international trend scouts in the process. It collaborates not only interdisciplinarily, but also within an international network thanks to ALPLA’s global presence. Regional teams observe changes in consumer behaviour, demographic and societal developments and changes in the law, and share their experience with one another. The innovation team coordinates this network and the exchange of knowledge. In 2018, the team used the results to draw up an innovation road map and identify strategic focal areas. The road map approved by the Board of Management comprises all the topics that ALPLA will address over the next few years.

Revenue generated by innovations will continue to grow over the next few years and will account for 1.1 per cent of total revenue by 2022.

‘Our access to innovations has become a lot more active in recent years. We now develop new packaging solutions anticipatorily, rather than merely waiting for our customers to make requests,’ says Christian Zmölnig, Head of Corporate Development & Innovation. ‘But it goes without saying that our customers’ requirements have a key role to play, as do the consumers’ needs, which we are focusing on more than ever before. The latest societal, political and environmental developments are valuable decision-making factors for me and my team,’ stresses Christian Zmölnig.

Our access to innovations has become a lot more active in recent years.

Christian Zmölnig, Director Corporate Research, Development and Innovation

 

 

Strategic focal areas and future trends


Examples of focal areas:

  • New markets require new solutions: development of frugal packaging for emerging markets.
  • Preserving fossil resources and bringing new materials through to market maturity: ALPLA has been working on developing bio-based materials for years.
  • New laws necessitate new packaging solutions: anticipatory adaptation of our products to new regulations, such as developing caps attached to the beverage bottles for countries within the European Union.

 

Examples of trends:

  • Circular economy – design for recycling: ALPLA has set itself the goal of making all of its packaging solutions 100 per cent recyclable by 2025.
  • Demographic change – taking consumer needs into account when designing packaging. One example here is the increasing proportion of society aged 50 and over: we respond to the needs of the ‘silver society’ among other things with beverage packaging solutions which are easy for senior citizens to handle and open.
  • Retail trends: e-commerce, digitisation and protection from product counterfeiting have to be taken into account during the development of packaging solutions.

We will continue to increase the number of innovations rolled out each year; by 2022, there will be three innovations a year.

Recent innovations

One of the best properties of The Simple One is its low weight. The idea was to use as little material as possible while nevertheless producing an attractive and functional packaging solution. The Simple One is up to 60 per cent lighter than a normal HDPE bottle. This therefore reduces the carbon emissions caused during production and transportation, and even after use during recycling.

The container does not need a cap, thus further reducing the volume of materials used. The bottle-like shape is welded shut and is simply cut along the edge when it needs to be opened. This also improves its recyclability as no different materials are introduced into the materials cycle.

The Simple One

This packaging lends itself well to e-commerce thanks to the properties outlined above, and its attractive price-performance ratio appeals in particular to customers in growth markets.

In mid-November 2018, ALPLA received the special ARA prize for The Simple One as part of the Austrian State Prize for Smart Packaging. The jury assessment summed up the benefits of the award-winning packaging solution: ‘A resource-efficient, innovative packaging solution characterised by its reduced material consumption, high versatility, top product protection and optimum suitability for recycling.’

ALPLA Blog: The Simple One

PET is a popular material for many reasons. It boasts transparency and good recyclability. Recycled PET is also widely available. Demand for PET packaging therefore continues to grow.

With its EBM PET innovation, ALPLA has combined the benefits of PET with the opportunities offered by extrusion blow moulding (EBM) production technology. This offers a great deal of scope for packaging solution design, with there being essentially no limits to the shapes that can be created. This makes EBM a good option for premium products that are to stand out on the shelf in terms of their design and function in comparison to rival products.

Innovation EBM

ALPLA worked closely with the recycling experts at PET Recycling Wöllersdorf to be able to use recycled PET for this technology. The machine platform also needed to be adapted. The highly energy-efficient and space-saving production platform can also be installed at a customer’s premises as an in-house solution – offering additional environmental benefits.

ALPLA Blog: EBM with PET