According to market and consumer data provider Statista, the forecast for manufacturers of glass containers worldwide is looking good, with production volumes projected to be 65.42 million tonnes in 2022, up from 50.63 million tonnes in 2015. This forecast is supported by research from the European Container Glass Federation, which concludes that glass is the dominant packaging material for spirits, wines and beer. This, it says, is partly “…because of the positive image of glass packaging and the strong consumer trust in glass as their preferred packaging for environmental, health and taste preservation reasons.”
This consumer view of glass is supported by the results of a survey commissioned by the Friends of Glass community in late 2016 (http://news.friendsofglass.com/glass-declared-number-1-by-europeans/), with one in two Europeans saying they use more glass than three years ago and 75% of Europeans viewing glass as the most environmentally-friendly packaging.
Increased consumer awareness
This positive image of glass comes very much from the increased awareness of consumers that it is made from only natural materials and is 100% recyclable. Glass contains no organic matter that can migrate into the contents and the components of glass, sodium silicates, are completely inert and non-toxic. Being non-porous and impermeable, unlike other materials used for packaging, glass also does not require any plastic layer between it and the consumable it contains. This has also contributed to the increased popularity of glass, in contrast to the ongoing and increasing health concerns around the use of Bisphenol A (BPA).
But while consumer awareness of the dangers of BPA is presenting glass manufacturers with a great opportunity to exploit, some converters are then potentially limiting the scale of the opportunity by decorating the containers with inks and coatings that contain BPA. Although not entirely necessary, using inks that are instead BPA-free, which is in line with Sun Chemical’s regulatory and environmental policies, enables brand owners to promote their product packaging as ‘100% BPA-free’.
In response to this situation and to customer feedback, as part of its SunVetro range of glass decoration solutions, Sun Chemical recently introduced SunSpray WBSPG, the first BPA-free, entirely water-based, spray paint coating for glass. Not only is SunSpray WBSPG BPA-free but based on pigment dispersions, it also offers greater adhesion and hardness than traditional sprays, as well as offering clarity and product resistance, while being environmentally-friendly. For brands and decorators looking to create high quality glass packaging that is also sustainable and meets the health and safety concerns of consumers, SunSpray WBSPG is an ideal solution.
The introduction of SunSpray WBSPG is very much in line with the company’s sustainability policy. Sun Chemical is taking responsibility to raise awareness about environmental issues that are part of its industry, including issues raised by regulatory and consumer-driven forces. Given that responsibility, the company has a history of and continues to develop methodologies to assess its impact and to innovate processes and products that are more sustainable from both an economic and environmental perspective. A rigorous development process and analytical tools are in place to guide materials choice and product safety.
The company strives to use manufacturing processes that demonstrate environmental excellence through reduced waste generation, lower energy and water usage and strong safety performance. There is a commitment to meet local regulatory requirements and to work proactively with government, industry trade groups (Sun Chemical is, for example, a member of EuPIA, the European Printing Ink Association) and business partners in the value chain to better define, measure and promote sustainability. In the food packaging market, in particular, Sun Chemical has significant credibility with brand owners, based on its supply into that market and vast experience of supplying other packaging sectors.
With that in mind and Sun Chemical’s focus on meeting the highest regulatory standards, in 2019 the company will also introduce a UV BPA-free screen ink, specifically formulated for glass container decoration. Maintaining the highest standards of performance for adhesion, hardness, scratch resistance, scuff resistance, chemical and water resistance, the ink will present the beverage, cosmetics and household items (eg scented candles) markets with an even greater opportunity to promote the use of sustainable glass packaging.