A Look at How Healthcare Packaging Solutions Expert Airnov Continues to Pioneer Sustainable Products and Develop Sustainable Working Practices Across its Business
Sustainability is a core priority for almost all packaging producers, including those which support the healthcare sector.
As the world transitions towards a more circular way of operating, both in a personal and business sense, the ability to make sustainable enhancements down to the very last detail matters more and more.
At Airnov, a pioneer of innovative solutions for the healthcare and medical packaging sectors, sustainability and circularity underpin all of its business activities. Here, we will explore some of the company’s latest products and initiatives that are helping to enhance its environmental credentials and those of its customers.
Part 1 – Developing Sustainable Products
The most recent sustainable-oriented product line released by Airnov is HAT-B.
A highly innovative vial, the product line has been developed and produced for applications in the pharmaceutical, diagnostic and nutraceutical markets, is available in two sizes and is compatible with existing filling lines. Furthermore, they contain an adjustable desiccant quantity and incorporate versatile sorbent materials to fit stability requirements – these include silica gel and molecular sieve.
HAT-B carries numerous sustainable features designed to limit carbon footprint, the most obvious and impactful being the fact it uses an optimised/reduced amount of plastic.
DRICARD, meanwhile, is a flat moisture absorber comprised of calcium chloride desiccant laminated between film layers. As with desiccant packets, DRICARD is designed to maintain a dry package environment to keep nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals and diagnostics safe from the damaging effects of moisture.
Airnov has recently developed a new, more sustainable version that provides twice the capacity in the same size card, uses less plastic and is printed with high-contrast blue ink on a white background, meaning it requires 80% less ink to produce than the current orange DRICARD.
As with HAT-B, performance has not been compromised as a result of sustainability gains. On the contrary, it has actually been improved.
For example, its double thickness provides twice the moisture absorption capacity as its predecessor, all the while maintaining the same overall size and surface.
Furthermore, the rigid structure of the card allows high speed automatic insertion by card dispensers or pick-and- place systems, while its flat profile is designed for use in applications that require desiccation in small and narrow packaging spaces. The blue-on-white printing is high-contrast and high-visibility where it is essential to minimise confusion with the end-product.
The new DRICARD is available in a variety of standard sizes and can be tailored to custom sizes if required. It is also US FDA- compliant for use in nutraceutical and pharma applications.
Also, recently off the Airnov innovation production line is its new Light 27mm desiccant stopper, which was showcased in May of this year to industry stakeholders at the Pharmapack conference in Paris, France.
Fitted with a tamper evident security and easy to open features, this solution uses fewer raw materials and is made with a new sustainable polymer – two key features which are helping customers to reduce their carbon footprints.
New variations of Airnov’s laser marked canisters have also been launched.
Specifically, the company has released 2g and 3g sizes to round-out the product line.
These canisters, which require fewer raw materials to make, use laser technology to create visible marks on the canister body without the use of inks, varnishes, adhesives, and other extraneous materials. This makes for a more sustainable product with less risk of contamination.
Part 2 – Deploying Sustainable Initiatives
In addition to manufacturing products with circularity and sustainability in mind, Airnov is also continuously assessing and adapting its own working processes.
Airnov’s stated aim is to devise and enact processes that add value to products and improve customer and employee experiences while lessening the company’s impact on the environment.
Central to this is minimising raw material and energy consumption in its production operations, as well as engagement in continuous assessment and improvement of its working methods and products to ensure that they are safe, sustainable and acceptable from the perspective of employees, customers, the public and all other stakeholders.
To achieve these goals, every facility at Airnov has implemented numerous initiatives, the company very much operating with the motto that even the smallest actions can have a huge impact.
In terms of ECOVADIS progress, Airnov France achieved ECOVADIS’ SILVER in August 2022. The status is in recognition of its implementation of ESG activities over the preceding 12 months, the aim now being to further improve its rating and use the French business as a template for other Airnov sites to follow. For example, the company will begin its ECOVADIS certification journey at its facility in Belen, New Mexico.
To further help achieve this end, the organisation recently implemented a Sustainability Committee, its major objective being to monitor the progress of ESG projects.
One key initiative taking place at Airnov’s plant in Belen, and which will feed into its ECOVADIS certification process, is converting secondary packaging from plastic to cardboard. Traditional plastic pails are more difficult to recycle than carton boxes, chiefly because they are made from non-renewable polymer resins and difficult to compact after use. Cardboard, on the other hand, is a widely recyclable material that also naturally decomposes a lot faster.
By switching to carton-based secondary packaging in New Mexico, Airnov will be able to pull hundreds of tons of plastic out of its operational processes every year. In addition, cardboard alternatives are sourced from local forest, lighter in weight and more space efficient, helping to optimise transportation and storage. Indeed, the initiative aims to reduce transportation emissions by using double-stackable cartons. These new cartons, are designed to be more durable than standard cardboard, allowing pallets to be double stacked with 50% more material in the same footprint as a single pallet.
By adopting these storage and transport containers, Airnov is also helping customers to reduce freight costs while also cutting down on the number of trucks needed to transport goods, saving money, reducing waste of plastic pails and carbon emissions.
Crucially, once again performance is not sacrificed in the name of sustainability. The carton packaging adopted by Airnov performs equally to plastic pails by utilising high-barrier aluminum bags to provide the same shelf-life of three years.
Measuring Our Impact
None of these initiatives would be worthwhile without being able to measure the exact impact they are having.
This is why Airnov is also investing time and resources in building out its carbon footprint evaluation capabilities. In July 2022, the company partnered with a consulting firm to evaluate the total amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) generated by Airnov’s activities during a chosen year of reference.
The project is structured around three streams – mobilisation of Airnov employees and data collection, carbon footprint measurement and carbon reduction roadmap definition. It is currently going through its first stage, framed around Airnov’s French site in Romorantin, the plan being to extend to other sites in the future.
In time, this work will enable Airnov to generate a superior understanding of how its operations generate carbon impact, and thus will help define its reduction targets and improvement roadmap moving forwards.