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Packaging’s Primary Protection Function

Wrap-up - 21/02/2020

Our round-up of what's been happening in the world of flexible packaging this week. 

Packaging’s primary function is to protect products

In the rush to meet consumer demands surrounding the usage of plastic, there is a risk that businesses will shift the burden from one environmental impact to another. This “more haste, less speed” concern was highlighted in a blog item by Kathleen McLoughlin, Senior Supply Chain Analyst at IGD.

Under the title “It’s not just about plastic: packaging sustainability needs a holistic approach”, Kathleen argues: “Packaging’s primary function is to protect products. Therefore, the environmental impacts of a product and its packaging are interlinked. Businesses need to understand these links.”

And she concludes: “Businesses must communicate their sustainability strategies and activities to consumers, so they can understand the rationale for the firm’s action and/or inaction.”

That is perhaps a lesson we can all learn; rather than knee-jerk reactions that can cause different environmental impacts.

On a similar vein last week at the British Plastic Federation’s Sustainability seminar, Prof Adisa Azapagic talked about the importance of a systems approach when thinking about circularity and sustainability.

Read Kathleen’s blog >>

Adopting a systems mindset

If we are to design for the circular economy, we need to consider not only the user but the system within which the design will exist. 

Food for thought and a video from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation >>

Defining compostable and biodegradable

All packaging in Australia should be recyclable, reusable, or compostable by 2025 to meet the country’s national targets. Food & Beverage magazine has taken a closer look at what is meant by “compostable”, why it is so often confused with “biodegradable” and, in a packaging context, what the consumer should do with the empty package. 

Discover their conclusions >>

Here in the UK, we are working towards the same goal. In 2018, the UK Plastics Pact set four world-leading targets, transforming the UK plastic packaging sector by 2025: 

  • 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable.
  • 70% of plastic packaging effectively recycled or composted.
  • take actions to eliminate problematic or unnecessary single-use packaging items through redesign, innovation or alternative (reuse) delivery models.
  • 30% average recycled content across all plastic packaging.

In the UK and elsewhere, clarification is also required. For example, developing standards for biodegradable, bio-based and compostable plastics (expect to see this coming out of DEFRA this year), and, as KM recently explored, the challenges of post-consumer recycled content in lidding films for heated applications.

Read our article >>


Using plastic more intelligently is part of the solution, argues a BPF guest post on the positives of plastics published by Manufacturing and Engineering Magazine.

Read it here >>

Role packaging can play in reducing food waste

This week, the BPF also published an article about how the importance of packaging is highlighted by the underestimation of food waste figures.

Read it here >>

We are our people

Ann Hau and Katie Puckle celebrated three years at KM this week. And they treated us all to what we love to protect, present and preserve … food!  They baked a delicious selection of cakes and scones, vegan and non-vegan! Katie and Ann are part of KM’s customer service team, the heart of this organisation that keeps our operations running smoothly and our customers happy.

Looking ahead … 

Next week we’re attending the much-anticipated Packaging Innovations, the UK’s leading packaging event for the whole supply chain. We’re particularly looking forward to The BIG Carbon Debate. In association with OPRL and FPA, it will bring experts together to unpick the key issues with the sustainability discussion. This debate shifts the focus from a discussion on plastic only, to a holistic look at packaging within the climate emergency. Are you going? Let us know and we’ll see you there!

And finally … the rapper’s wrapper

Confectionery packaging as fashion? We loved the tasty look of singer and rapper Lizzo at the Brit Awards in London. Her Moschino gown was modelled on a Hershey's chocolate bar wrapper. You can see it on the American star’s Instagram page >>

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Compostable packaging boost for food waste recycling aims

Compostable packaging is crucial if food waste recycling is to be increased, according to a new report based on responses from experts across Europe.

The report, published by environmental consultancy Ricardo Energy, is being circulated to encourage the Government to support compostable packaging to help meet its food waste recycling objectives and reduce plastic contamination in organic waste streams.

Catch-22 of the Plastic Packaging Tax

The UK Government’s imminent Plastic Packaging Tax has created a frustrating Catch-22. The problem is that, for trays containing food intended to be heated with the lid kept on, it is not currently possible to produce a heat-sealable lidding film made with a recycled material approved by EFSA (European Food Safety Authority).

Recycling Roadmap for Flexible Packaging

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Lifting the Lid on Plastic: Any colour as long as it’s not black

Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black. Those were the words of Henry Ford about the Model T which, in 1913, became the first automobile to be built on a moving assembly line.

Black was chosen at the time because it was inexpensive and fast-drying and assisted the speed of assembly.

You could be forgiven for thinking the same statement was previously applied to food trays. Not so long ago, supermarkets’ ready-meal and fresh food shelves appeared to be almost completely stacked with black plastic trays.

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