Plastic Sustainability

Packaging that supports a Circular Economy

With all the negative press currently surrounding the use of plastic packaging, we thought we’d try to make sense of it all and explain how this affects the business. It seems that we’ve all adopted a throw away culture these days. When was the last time you nonchalantly tossed something into the trash? Did you contemplate where it might end up or wonder if it made it to your local recycling centre where it could be used again?  TV programmes Blue Planet II aired November 2017 and Drowning in Plastic aired October 2018, have struck an emotional chord with the UK public.  Such programmes increase the pressure on the plastic industry to clean up their act.

Sustainability, plastic and the environment

 What is a circular economy?

A circular economy is the latest buzz term and it affects the sustainable production of plastic products.  A circular economy is a regenerative system where the whole life of a product is taken into consideration.  The aim is to reduce the environmental impact during each products life cycle. The system should reduce waste and resources.  From initial design concept, through to the end of a products life where it is re-used or recycled, the careful monitoring and process reduction all affect the circular economy.

How does this affect the business?

We carefully consider every step of design, labelling, manufacture, distribution, product shelf life, and how we convey to the end user how to recycle responsibly.  We scrutinise every element to ensure any unnecessary weight, energy and emission are removed from the product to slimline resources taken to manufacture and deliver. We carefully recycle all manufacturing waste too; another example of circular economy.

Reducing mixed material packaging and additives

If plastic raw materials are mixed or colour added, this makes the product more difficult to recycle.  Due to consumer pressure, we will begin to see a decline in the use of coloured or black plastic in our supermarkets. Consumers are getting more knowledge savvy around plastic packaging issues due to heavy press coverage. Their demands for fully recyclable products ensures retailers are starting to favour clear, single polymer products that can be more readily recycled.

Black Plastic

While the industry searches for a suitable replacement we have worked with recycling experts to source a blue/black colour which the sensors can readily detect.  This maximises the chance of our black plastic being recycled.  Several high-street retailers have also planned to change from black to white Printapots for the very same reason.

What does the future of packaging look like?

Commentators have predicted that future could be compostable, biodegradable and 100% recyclable but at present the technology is simply not cost effective nor viable.  We will keep a close eye on future developments so watch this space. What affect does this have on the general population?  We all like to feel good about the purchases we make and that we’re doing our bit for the environment.  Look out for new technology and don’t forget your recycling duties at home.  Diligently cleaning all your recyclable products and ensuring you split them in the correct bins is still the best way to help.

Clear recycling labelling on packaging

Part of being a responsible plastic manufacturer is to minimise the affect our product has on the wider environment by ensuring the products end up being recycled rather than incinerated or worse still, in landfill.  Clearly labelled packaging has a far greater chance of being recycled if it is clear to the consumer how to recycle.  We discusses labelling with all customers and outline the benefits of producing a more responsible finished product.  We take recycling labelling as serious business and intend to use all future developments in materials to ensure a bright, sustainable future for all.

Clear recycling labelling on packaging

To promote their sustainability and green credentials, supermarket chains are pushing evermore for 100% recyclable message on the labelling on their packaging.  We will see a slow decline in black plastic trays, typically found in microwave meals.  The sensors at the recycling plants struggle to detect them and they tend to end up in landfill or burnt.  Although on decline, retailers are finding it hard to find an alternative; plastic is lightweight and performs well at temperature (from freezer to oven).  Although you’d think glass would be an ideal alternative, its manufacturing processes produces more pollution than plastic and it’s more expensive to recycle.