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“Packaging plays a crucial role in reducing food waste"

Portrait of Len Boot from NNZ
Len Boot, CEO of NNZ

Tell us about NNZ’s story so far as it relates to packaging.

Since its foundation as a family business nearly a century ago, NNZ has grown to become a global network, with 24 offices in 18 countries. Our packaging range has grown too: today it encompasses net bags, jute bags, paper packaging, woven PP bags, films, cardboard, trays, PP/PET cups, fresh produce buckets, pallet stabilization materials and customized materials.

We are able to offer a start-to-finish design and production process thanks to our work with a range of partners who share our company values. This has allowed us to become true product leaders and put our standards of sustainability, efficiency and food safety into every aspect of packaging production.


What was the reasoning behind your switch to water-based inks?

We made the decision to use water-based inks for our packaging in line with our sustainability policies. Contributing to sustainable development is an inherent part of being a market leader, and we examine every part of the supply chain in which NNZ can make a positive contribution. Additionally, offering packaging with water-based ink gives our customers a wider choice.


Are there any differences in performance between water and solvent-based inks?

One of the major advantages of using water-based ink is environmental friendliness. Adding water-based ink to an already recyclable packaging ensures that packaging remains 100% recyclable.

In terms of performance, customers reported that water-based ink met their needs; overall, the decision to use these inks was well received.

Potatoes in a pillow bag with netting window, printed with water-based ink
Source: NNZ

How does your ink choice fit in with your sustainability policy?

Our sustainability policy is based on four pillars: Giving our employees a pleasant environment to work in, dealing with the environment in a sustainable manner, using low-impact facilities, and of course, our packaging products themselves. In terms of client communication, we sum up our offering as the Future Route: helping partners rethink their packaging in today’s sustainability-oriented society.

Using a safe, environmentally friendly base for inks contributes to more than one pillar of our plan and provides another way in which food companies can re-evaluate their packaging.


Why did you decide to join the PRETHINK INK network?

Being part of a strong and supportive network is vital to us. Our existing global network has increased our competitive strength and enabled us to deliver more solutions to our customers. Therefore, we are always looking for new partnerships that will enable greater co-operation and creativity. Our motto is: ‘Together is better’.

Potatoes in a compostable pillow bag with netting window, printed with water-based ink

Source: NNZ

Award-winning flexible packaging: This compostable pillow bag with netting window and integrated handle is printed with water-based ink. The NNZ Carry-Vento® bag was award winning during the Fruit Logistica 2020. The FRUIT LOGISTICA Innovation Award (FLIA) honours outstanding innovations in the entire fruit and vegetable supply chain from production to the point of sale.

Why is ink base an issue more stakeholders in the packaging industry should be interested in?

Historically, packaging decisions may have been made on a limited analysis of the impacts of just the packaging product itself.

What we are seeing more of now is a full life-cycle analysis: all the impacts of packaging, from source materials to its effects on the food it contains. For example, it’s been proven that primary packaging for fresh foods actually has a net environmental benefit, since it greatly reduces food waste further along the value chain.

Ink selection is another part of this life-cycle analysis that should not be neglected: it all contributes to the overall goal of sustainability.


Do you have any advice for companies considering switching to water-based inks?

Remember the importance of packaging and all the roles it plays: transportation, protection, storage, marketing. Make sure yours reflects your company’s thinking as a whole.

What do you think the future holds for the packaging industry?

As we rethink the environmental impact of our choices all the way along the value chain, there will be a growing acceptance of the role packaging can play in this. The right packaging can prevent food waste and contribute to recyclability. With the combined effort of all partners in the supply chain, together we will realize more of the environmental benefits of taking a new approach to packaging.

A few facts about our interview partner:

Name: Len Boot

Role: CEO

Company: NNZ

Founded in: 1922

Specialisms: Tailor-made packaging for customers in the fruit and vegetable sector and industry

Describe your company in 10 words: Sustainable: social, product leaders, customer-oriented, innovative, flexible, transparent, reliable, ethical.

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