“The fact is that we as an industry are responsible to build a circular economy for all types of packaging.”
Read our MD, Mark Barter’s view on last week’s the Packaging Trends and Innovation Conference and discover how the packaging industry can help cut through the confusion and take a responsible proactive approach.
It was very interesting to listen to the forward-thinking speakers from the impressive line-up of industry leaders that were present at the Packaging Trends Conference on 10th October.
Top of the agenda was once again single use plastics, but the fact is there are mixed messages about what we should actually be doing.
Major players with 2019 and 2020 targets to hit, must start work now, they cannot sit on the fence to see what happens, so it is frustrating that there are still so many unanswered questions.
Do we want no plastic? Do we want bio plastic? Do we want less plastic? Do we want recycled plastic?
Do we want recyclable plastic? If we knew exactly what we were aiming for then we could all employ our resources in the same direction.
There is an EU Plastics strategy being discussed as we speak, and there is also a white paper from Michael Gove’s department due in November. We are likely to end up with a three-tier scenario;
1. A significant reduction of certain products
2. A ban of some items
3. Extended producer responsibility of other items
Whether it is Brussels or Westminster, these wheels turn slowly. It is a minefield that we are all carefully trying to pick our way through.
For a typical manufacturing business, almost half of the carbon footprint comes from packaging. There are still enormous opportunities to reduce this statistic by using higher grade but lighter materials. This is a true win-win situation, giving cost savings, marketing opportunities as well as demonstrating that we take our corporate responsibility seriously.
B2C e-commerce packaging is a huge growth area, this needs to be have a quality feel when it arrives but be minimalistic and yet functional. It doesn’t need to sell the product, but it must be 100% recyclable. When we say recyclable, we mean that it is actually going to go into the recycling bin. Nearly every material is technically recyclable, but this is irrelevant if the facilities are not readily accessible. There is also a lot of misinformation, for example, if we put biodegradable plastic into our food waste, it is likely to be removed by a machine as plastic waste and sent off to landfill.
An encouraging fact that has been proven by research is that consumers do care about recycling. www.recyclenow.com is a useful website that you can put your postcode into and find a list of what your local authority will recycle.
As an industry we cannot leave it to consumers, or governments to sort these issues. The fact is that we as an industry are responsible to build a circular economy for all types of packaging.
Some companies, like Innocent Drinks are doing a very good job of this. By 2022 all their plastic bottles will be 100% recycled using plant derived material.
In the UK we have some catching up to do. Norway collect 98% of their beverage packaging and we are at around 47% so there is still a long way to go.