Sustainability has been a top priority for DEBATIN for many years. It’s a goal we pursue relentlessly, and one that is anchored firmly in our corporate strategy and philosophy.

Nonetheless, we continue to produce packaging that’s made of film! That’s because packaging always has and always will play an important and indispensable role in protecting contents such as laboratory samples, cash or valuables or food items when they’re in transit. As a result, we’ve started to think outside the box – by developing new films, for example, or solutions with monomaterials that make our products easier to recycle. Our commitment to sustainability is holistic. In other words, we strive for environmental, social and economic sustainability. Also, we report in as much detail as possible on our efforts in the field of sustainability in the hope that this will inspire others to join the cause.

Sustainability is not some short-lived trend. It’s not a subject we can treat casually or half-heartedly, not something we can abandon when it starts to feel tiresome, and not something we can leave up to everybody else. Pursuing a relentless sustainability strategy means investing considerable amounts of time, effort and money. Sometimes it can feel incredibly stressful. Nonetheless, taking action is the only real way to take responsibility for future generations and care for our planet, resources and climate. It’s also the only way to survive on the market – particularly in the packaging industry!

A paradigm shift in the packaging industry – insights from an academic study

The global packaging industry is booming, and experts predict that this trend will continue. However, a study conducted by the Horváth Group, entitled “The European Packaging industry in 2025”, concludes that sustainability will trigger a paradigm shift in this sector. 

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More and more, the emphasis will be on handling raw materials and resources more mindfully, and on buzzwords such as circular economy, recycling, reduced emissions and carbon neutrality. There’ll also be an increased focus on innovation (e.g., smart packaging solutions), on regional and global capacities, and on the increasingly complex political framework. The industry needs to find strategies and solutions that address the new challenges.

Consumers now attach more importance to buying sustainable products

Last but not least, developments in the packaging industry will be strongly shaped by changes in consumer behaviour, which in turn are shaped by demographic and social change; customers have become more professional, and now have more bargaining power. 

In an interview with the magazine “Packaging 360°”, Christoph Kopp, who headed the above-mentioned Horváth study, sketches the current situation. “People attach greater importance to sustainability and are more willing to buy sustainable products. This isn’t just private consumers, but also big retail groups,” he reports. 

Increasingly, consumers expect products to be more sustainable – and they’re willing to put their money where their mouth is. The same applies to major companies, particularly brand owners, and this has a snowball effect on purchasing, sales and administration.

Important aspects that will shape change in the industry include:

  • Pursuing a holistic vision of sustainability
  • Developing new strategies for procurement, and acknowledging its pivotal role
  • Introducing a more systematic approach to marketing
  • Promoting innovation
  • Restructuring production networks

Design for recycling: sustainability and how DEBATIN plays its part

For many years now, DEBATIN’s corporate strategy has focussed on sustainability, a mindful use of resources, monomaterials and recyclates. The entire company and all its products have been carbon neutral since 2017. In 2021, DEBATIN voluntarily published its first sustainability report. All the gas we use is carbon neutral and our electricity is sourced 100 % from hydropower. Last but not least, we strive continually to reduce and offset our carbon footprint.

Naturally, our product portfolio includes sustainable transport and packaging solutions – DEBAPOST® Second life post-consumer recycled mailing bags in Blue Angel quality, for example. Made with more than 80 % recycled waste, they help our planet and save resources. DEBATIN’s online CO2 calculator enables customers to ascertain the exact amount of CO2 they save when they use sustainable products from the DEBASAFE®UNIPACK®DEBAPAC® and DEBAPOST® ranges instead of conventional products made from new film.

Smart packaging

In future, adding a wider range of intelligent features and customisation options to classic packaging products will give companies an enhanced competitive edge.

Together with our partner companies in the DERIBA Group, we continue to research and develop a wider range of sustainable products. Examples include our DERIBA GREENLINE® film (which won the German Sustainability Award in 2021) and the DERIBA recycling kit / DERIBA CYCLE® – our very own recycling loop that we developed to ensure waste films and packaging are channelled back into a suitable recycling process after use. We use the resulting recyclates to make new, sustainable, Blauer-Engel-certified PCR film products.

The packaging industry is increasingly turning its focus to recyclates, which poses new challenges – but also opens new doors. More and more companies want to use recyclates in their packaging, but at the same time, there are bottlenecks in supply and delivery (not least due to Covid). Thanks to the fact that the DERIBA Group has its very own recycling loop, we’re excellently positioned to avoid such bottlenecks.

Extensive expertise with materials + a focus on sustainability + a focus on the circular economy = big competitive edge

In future, expertise with materials will only gain in importance for packaging companies. Any company that understands material efficiency and is able to use fewer materials and establish a circular economy will have an important and decisive advantage over their competitors.

Dr Oliver Tröber, Engineer in the Research & Development department

Paper recycling is now commonplace and the system works equally well for both industry and private consumers. But the situation with films and plastics is entirely different. As a result, the demand for recycled granules for plastic packaging – and, indeed, for recycling systems themselves! – is likely to continue rising. Besides reducing the amount of materials used, the challenge will be to recycle these materials and keep them in the loop for as long as possible. In this context, solutions that focus on monomaterials rather than composite materials will play a big role because they’re easier to recycle.

How you dispose of waste plastic plays a decisive role! 

In the long term, a sustainable recycling loop will only work if consumers know about it, understand it – and sort their waste correctly. Only then will valuable materials remain in the loop to be reused over and over.

The task in hand, therefore, is to raise public awareness about the value of plastics and films, explain how to use them and how to dispose of them, dispel the many myths that persist, and answer consumers’ questions. Are cardboard, paper, glass and biodegradable plastics (e.g., made of sugar cane or corn) really better than plastics made from crude oil? How can we prevent plastic from being disposed of incorrectly? What do we need to pay attention to? How do we handle plastics correctly?

So what’s our bottom line on sustainability, plastics and film?

We need to change the way we think, and we need to take action! The goal must be to continually expand and improve the recycling loop. This will enable us to use more recycled material, and use it to develop new products – instead of using more crude oil to make more plastic! 

Taking action is essential – for the sake of humanity, and for the sake of our planet, our climate and our future!

Join us in taking action, step by step. Let’s roll!

You can contact the DEBATIN sales team by phone on +49 7251 8009 100 or send an email to vertrieb@debatin.de.

We’d also be delighted to welcome you to our sustainability webcast series in German language “Grow with us!”. The next and last episode of this series, entitled “ social dimension of sustainability”, was aired on 25 March 2022. Our guest speaker was Dennis Utter, Chairman of the LEADING EMPLOYERS Advisory Board.

You can watch (or re-watch…) previous webcast episodes (in German) here:

Webcast 1, Topic: What is sustainability, and why should we care?

Webcast 2, Topic: Sustainable procurement – a value driver for SMEs

Webcast 3, Topic: Avoid, reduce, compensate