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FACER’s Managing Director Discusses Future of Cartonboard Packaging

In its drive for sustainability, many in the packaging industry are going back to the future with cartonboard solutions. The traditional fiber-based carton has enjoyed something of a resurgence in recent years, but this is no nostalgia act – today’s cartons can be creative, precision-engineered with dazzling aesthetic and functional designs, and treated with all the premiumization you could wish for.

With all that progress comes challenges – particularly for younger businesses. And so, when a company like FACER comes along with the slogan “Progressive Printed Packaging,” you’d expect them to have some solutions to those challenges. Luckily, this is something that Luke Wilson, Managing Director of FACER, knows his company specializes in.

“Typical new business frustrations that we see are reliability and capacity issues, failing to hit the mark on sustainability initiatives, and a lack of new ideas,” he explains on his company’s stand at Packaging Innovations. “Whether it’s a combination of all these frustrations, or just one in particular, it can lead to a big hidden cost for businesses. That’s where we get involved – we present them with fresh ideas and a dynamic way of working.”

The packaging market is in something of an innovation feedback loop at the moment – new ideas continually drive demand for even newer ideas. As a business with a reputation for innovation, this means the FACER team has to constantly raise the bar. “We do quite a lot of packs that step out of the boundaries of what is considered ‘standard’,” he says. “We always try to tailor the design to the product or include some design nuance on the pack that works in conjunction with the brand. And when it comes to print and decoration, we’re seeing clients choosing to opt for things that are just a touch further than the norm – like soft touch varnish on the pack or traditional decorative finishes like foil blocking.

“Not all products warrant it, but there does seem to be an appetite to elevate products and to compete from a visual impact perspective.”

Wilson argues that the best thing for any business to do – whether new or well-established – is to collaborate with packaging suppliers if they want the most impactful possible results. “It’s often a 50/50 collaboration. Sometimes the client will suggest things that are bugbears for me – like the use of OPP laminate film on carton packaging – and we can advise them to use a water-based alternative instead.

“If it’s a high-end product, often they’ll have an in-house design agency that will know what it’s possible to implement and come to us with a solid brief. Sometimes, younger brands will need more education from us about what can be achieved within budget.”

With over 85 years in the business, FACER has the experience to deliver that education where needed.

“Our five-year focus is to double down on what we’re currently doing with respect to sustainability and creative-led innovation. We did an MBO in late 2022, and since then we’ve become FSC-accredited, World Land Trust and Carbon Neutral certified, we’re a CEDEX member, and we pay the living wage. We’re very keen on ESG and see it as pivotal to our business going forward.”

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