News Items - International Association of Packaging Research Institutes
Message from the New IAPRI President, Roland ten Klooster

Packaging is a sustainable solution to transport products, to store them, to be able to use them. Without, product damage and loss would be inevitable. Research is focusing on all these issues and helping to find solutions that are serving society.

Packaging is a very multidisciplinary knowledge field with the combination of totally different areas, from business management to engineering, micro-biological, chemical, physical and mechanical issues that have to be taken into account, with use of materials that belong to the categories of the cheapest produced, providing combinations of functions that are unique. Packaging is serving a product and does not have existence on its own which makes it even more specific.
The attitude of society towards packaging is not aware of all the functions packaging are fulfilling. The amount of material that is used per functional packaging unit is constantly decreasing while quality of the packed products is becoming better in terms of fresher, better taste, very hygienic, longer shelf life, less food waste. It also clear that packaging has played a large role in reducing shopping time, time needed to prepare food, and the number of different products that is nowadays offered in many shops. The development of products has developed together with the possibilities packaging offers with gas packaging (MAP) as an example of one of these improvements. This means that packaging has become a part of our daily time management. If we want to use less packaging, we can, but we must invest time by weighing, sorting, packing ourselves etc.
Because of the unknown functions a packaging is fulfilling and the lack of insight in the share packaging has on the mentioned developments, many put the focus on negative sites of packaging. And it is clear that they are present. As part of analyzed ocean study, plastic packaging was found to be less than 20% of the microfibers that are found in sea water, but some sources take packaging as being the only cause of these serious issues. Littering is also a big problem; in some parts of the world the plastic bag is a very important cause. This all has led to a negative attitude towards plastics while in many Life Cycle Assessments plastic solutions turn out to be those with the lowest carbon footprints.
The Covid years were not easy for an association from whom the members need to meet, chat, discuss issues, preferably in person. Several members had to leave because of the impossibility to gain new research projects, lack of revenues, and needs to set other priorities.
This means that we are facing big challenges. We want nice looking packed products that are well accessible, economically affordable, sustainable and that can be produced and transported without damage and loss.
The last decennium IAPRI has developed a back office which is solid, with a website with possibilities to communicate, and a financial healthy structure with the help or our previous president Jay Singh and the Secretary General Ed Church. We have to take care that this stays the same. We would like to get back lost members and want to acquire new members.
So there are many issues to focus on. Fortunately, we are an association with members who are active and willing to participate in the activities and communities of practice.
We must have our vision on our research field clear and must be able to tell the outer world who we are, what we do, why we do it etc. I want to focus on these issues. Working on an overall view in which many of the topics are taken up, with help of the research communities, those doing social media, the people working on education and communication and of course of you all. Approaching potential members with background information to convince them to join, approaching networks with our data to tell what our role is in society and telling what research we did last year and what it means for protecting products and decreasing damage during transport, for decreasing the amount of needed material, increasing the amount of functions, optimizing the appearance how products are offered to consumers, providing information about the quality packed, lengthening shelf life, optimizing taste, serving an aging society etc.
I hope I can count on you all in making some small step towards the mentioned goals.

Published: 07/28/22