Interview with Eduard de Haan
Between the 1950s and 2017, an estimated 9.2 billion tons of plastic was produced. That massive amount of plastic places a heavy burden on nature, oceans, people, and animals.
As a result, a shift is taking place in society, which is also noticeable in the packaging world; the change from plastic to paper packaging.
Eduard de Haan, CEO and co-owner of JASA, talks about the rise of paper packaging and JASA's involvement in this.
Is paper packaging the most sustainable option?
"That's a central question that I can't answer straightforwardly. Numerous aspects come into play when looking at the packaging process and sustainability.
Sustainability not only involves the packaging material but also concerns food waste.
All elements from the entire packaging chain, from raw material to recycling, play a role. You would have to assess all those different topics to answer your question. It's a very complex issue that no one can give a definitive answer to."
Why do we find more plastic packaging than paper packaging in the supermarket?
"In some cases, plastic is the only option. Some products, such as olives and marinated chicken skewers, cannot be packaged in paper. Also, for a meal salad with, for example, a boiled egg, lettuce, or pasta, paper is not an option.
However, you can also create sustainable, recyclable packaging for these products. We do that by using as little plastic as possible, choosing mono-materials or easily separable multi-materials."
Some products are packaged in both paper and plastic; what is that about?
"One of the reasons for this is that it’s impossible to state with 100% certainty what the most sustainable packaging is.
A good example is the packaging of apples. You can choose between no packaging, a plastic bag with ten apples, a cardboard tray with four apples, or a ready-to-eat package of cut slices. No one can say which variant has the most negligible impact on the environment."
If no one knows for sure, then what difference does the type of packaging material make?
"We see that every initiative in the realm of sustainability contributes to social support for treating the environment with care. We shouldn't underestimate that effect.
Take the Ocean Cleanup as an example. A side effect of this action is that support for more conscious handling of plastic has increased significantly. That makes every initiative a good one, and that also applies to the packaging material you choose.
Of course, paper has sustainability advantages over plastic. For one, the raw material is renewable, and paper packaging has the highest recycling rate."
What are JASA's sustainability goals?
"Our central focus is to contribute to using less packaging material and less plastic. By doing so, we deliver considerable value.
Every year, the Dutch nation consumes 26 billion units of plastic packaging, and that number continues to grow. JASA wants to prevent the unnecessary use of plastic. In consultation with our customers, we examine the possibilities of packaging with less plastic while still ensuring it is processable on packaging lines. Also noteworthy, all of JASA's machines are suitable for processing paper packaging."
Is sustainability the new normal for businesses?
"Yes, I think so. You can see that, for example, through ESG criteria, which stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance. An ESG analysis shows how you handle your electricity and CO2 emissions, among other measuring points. In other words, whether your company's activities can impact the environment.
At JASA, we also work with an ESG policy.
External sources also encourage sustainability. Across the border, they take this a step further. For instance, in France, a law has been introduced that stipulates that fruit and vegetables weighing less than one and a half kilograms may no longer be packaged in plastic."
What prompted JASA to turn its focus to paper packaging?
"We started this some five years ago. At that time, discussions about the environment and climate were intensifying, and the topic was gaining attention in the trade magazines.
This prompted us to ask ourselves what contribution JASA was going to make. Based on social responsibility, we made choices and set out to focus on paper packaging."
What steps has JASA taken in the field of paper packaging?
"Five years ago, we decided that we wanted to focus on less plastic and less packaging material. We took steps straightaway and launched new product groups. For example, our Sleever 2.0 and 3.0 allow flexible packaging in 100% cardboard packaging.
We also wanted all of JASA's vertical packaging machines to be able to process paper. We made that a success as well.
By continuously achieving our goals, we have been and still are at the forefront of the industry."
How does JASA differentiate itself in the field of paper packaging?
"JASA processes almost all paper types, currently on the market, on its machines. With that, we support all the unique paper manufacturers.
This made us the early adopter, and we still hold that position. We keep innovating continuously. For example, we not only want to label wing trays but also zipper and perforate them."
You can read all about paper packaging and JASA's latest packaging solutions, including the new Hybrid and Quickpack, in our free paper and cardboard e-book.
By the way, I'm confronted with the focus on sustainability at work and at home alike. It also plays a factor in my children's lives, as my oldest wants to work in aerospace. The whole TU Delft group of students say: 'what you have created as garbage over the last three generations; we will solve in the coming years. A statement that really means something and gives us hope."
How do you envision the coming period?
"We continue to develop ourselves and bring new products to the market to drive innovation in the packaging industry and make a significant contribution to a sustainable world. We do this with the requirements of our customers in mind."