In May I was at the Packaging Society Fellows’ annual lunch at the very smart Royal Airforce Club in central London. This year’s guest speaker gave a talk on the fine work being done by the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers to help educate and train young people for the working world. More specifically, this historic institution, which welcomes members from paper, print, packaging, publishing and diverse related business areas, is on a mission to inspire the next wave of industry professionals and does so in large part by encouraging and promoting excellence in creativity and technology. In the UK the respective fortunes of old and new technologies, their present and future prospects, are mixed, to say the least. The resilience of the paper and board
sector is shown in UK consumption statistics that indicate growth in 2015 compared to 2014 of 6% for recycled fluting and 1.5% for carton board. “Contrast this with the misery in the newsprint sector showing falls of 8% or coated mechanical paper for volume magazines down 11.5% year on year,” said Kevin Dewey.
A paper, board and packaging man, through and through, he painted a picture in glowing colors of the many sides to the Stationers’ Company. Last year, for example, the esteemed body sponsored and published an insight report by Pöyry on packaging drivers up to 2025, covering the gamut of packaging substrates including glass, plastics and sack Kraft, and intelligent and active packaging. This autumn the Stationers will team up with the UK carton industry (BPIF Cartons) and the British Coating Federation representing the ink manufacturers to put on an event focussed on the food packaging industry. But before that,
on 27 June, the Stationers will be handing out Innovation Excellence Awards to winners from the world of Communications and Content across traditional and digital media. Shortlisted packaging and print technologies include Asahi Photoproducts’ AWP solid water-washable plate said to give a level of graphic reproduction similar to digital plates, and a Datalase system for printing variable product data and tailored messages at the point of packing, filling or distribution.
A possible winner is the retail ready packaging concept by DS Smith Packaging UK called SalesFront that continually pushes products to the front of the shelf and avoids the need for on-shelf apparatus. Another is the Heidelberg Omnifire 250 with digital inkjet technology that can print on three-dimensional objects such as balls, drinking bottles and mobile phone sleeves, up to five colors.
Also in contention are Kodak’s Sonora XP that helps printers save on chemistry, water, processor maintenance and chemistry disposal, and reduces processing variability; a Kolbus system for ‘deluxe’ packaging production of folded carton and rigid boxes; Parkside’s Rockpocket technology offering an ‘extremely’ lightweight pack for transporting high value, delicate and breakable items; and a process by Reproflex 3 and anilox specialist Sandon Global called Project Blue that led UK printer Roberts Mart to double-gold at the 2016 European Flexographic Industry Awards, for a Mars Milky Way Hot Chocolate design. Sun Chemical Aquacure ink platform and 3D scanning technology by Troika Systems for flexographic printing complete the clutch of fresh-thinking packaging industry contenders for the Stationers’ top honours.
The Stationers’ charitable work largely focusses on education. “We fund bursaries for post-graduate students entering courses leading to careers in our industries. At the other end of the scale we fund Saturday Schools in London that help young people to become literate and numerate so they can take full advantage of their schooling during the week.” Its largest project is a 1,600-student academy school in London, which it supports with mentors, business and careers talks, and a number of governors.
Judging from the assembled genial Fellows of the Packaging Society and Stationers’ membership, at the end of an ordinary working day and long after you have put your own career behind you there’s a social life to be had and work to do that makes good use of your wide and deep network and years of your valuable experience – all of it pleasurable and rewarding at a personal level.