Tokyo Pack 2018

European laws against single-use plastic have led to an increased awareness in Japan

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

Tokyo Pack 2018 opening ceremony. Photo: @MagnusRobach Swedish ambassador to Japan.
Tokyo Pack 2018 opening ceremony. Photo: @MagnusRobach Swedish ambassador to Japan.
European recycling technology and laws against single-use plastic have led to an increased awareness in Japan, particularly among the retail and food service industries, says JPI (Japan Packaging Institute).

Among the challenges such as plastic waste it also highlighted food issues due to regional disasters caused by worldwide changes in weather, the possibility of an unstable food supply in the future and the current domestic issue of food loss. 

Rapid lifestyle changes

The Japanese packaging industry today is tackling the development of packaging alongside societal social responsibilities amid the tide of rapid lifestyle change, dwindling birth rate and an ageing population and environmental protection​,” said Sadayoshi Fujishige, president, JPA and Masaki Ogushi, Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Economy, Trade & Industry at the opening of the Tokyo Pack 2018. 

There is a growing interest in the reduction of food loss and the safety of food. It is an important task for us to gain consumer confidence in food through further improvement of our packaging technology​. 

It is a major challenge for us to minimize the environmental load of packaging and develop packaging that contributes to a sustainable recycle-based society.​” 

This is the 27th ​edition of Tokyo Pack, which has been held every other year since 1966. The theme this year is ‘Let’s Create Packaging for All Our Tomorrows’. 

Tokyo Pack has five key topics this year; environmental awareness; food issues; international marketplace; labor shortage and improving production. 

High expectations exist for an increased focus on technology to extend shelf life and expiration dates to address food loss,​” said Fujishige.

JPI has launched a pilot with SMRJ (Organization for Small & Medium Enterprises and Regional Innovation, Japan) this year to match experts with vendors and visitors at the show who are concerned about, or are experiencing problems with, overseas expansion.

Labor shortage 

The packaging industry as a whole is affected by a growing labor shortage, with increasing demand for reducing labor, conserving manpower and robotization​,” said Fujishige. 

Improvements are being seen in sensors, video monitoring and dexterous grippers​.” 

Over the last 12 months Japan has seen a rise in the prices of used corrugated board due to e-commerce and in September, a problem arose at the manufacturing facility of a major polypropylene producing company and the factory was shut down due to a fault in its key components. 

The manufacturing plant accounts for about 10% (300,000 tons) of PP production capacity in Japan and restoration took six months.  

As a result, the PP used in automobile bumpers, home electric appliances and a variety if packaging materials is currently in short supply, which has impacted the packaging industry. 

Looking to the future, Fujishige said Japan’s economy continues to show moderate but stable growth but with the changes in society and economy, packaging and packaging technology is more diversified and advanced and it needs to develop a human resources capable of addressing such changes.

Overseas demand 

For growth on a global basis, the packaging industry of Japan must go beyond enhancing our own technological advantages to also develop products and packaging that meet overseas demand to enhance further value​,” he added. 

The institute is acting in cooperation with packaging organizations abroad as a member of the Asian Packaging Federation (APF) and the World Packaging Organization (WPO) and will work on promoting its ISO standardization activities​.” 

This year’s exhibition will see more than 700 exhibitors with 70% of exhibition space dedicated to packaging materials and machines including converting machinery, food processing, inspection equipment, printing technology, material handling and package design.  

Highlights include a Package Design Pavilion; Japan Good Packaging Pavillion showcasing the best of packaging innovation with an exhibit of 100 winning packages from this year’s Japan Good Packaging Contest and Japan Star Awards 2018 and the robots of the future in the exhibition ‘Future prediction of packaging and related world in 2030 and future years’. 

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