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02.08.2022
Latest News Wrap-Up / 02/08/2022

Plastics emissions ‘lower than alternatives’

In our latest Wrap-Up … Plastics emissions “lower than alternatives”. Disagreement over recycling claims. Optimism for flexible packaging market growth. Leading brands accused of greenwashing.
New plastic made from non-edible plant parts. Wonky packaging goes global. And more …

FOR STARTERS …

PLASTICS EMISSIONS ‘LOWER THAN ALTERNATIVES’

Plastics have a lower total GHG (greenhouse gas) contribution than alternatives in most applications, according to a recently published US-focused report, Climate Impact of Plastics, by McKinsey & Company.

The report assessed a host of applications covering about 90% of all plastics used and found plastics have a lower GHG contribution in 13 of the 14 applications analysed, including fresh meat packaging, grocery bags, wet food packaging, and soft drink containers.

However, it is noted that there is a different outlook in Europe for the various applications, where the more advanced circularity of the economy means the benefits between materials are narrower.

The report is examined in detail by Packaging Europe in an article that also points out that “a shift towards a lower-carbon economy in the lead-up to 2050 could narrow the gap in emissions between plastics and alternatives like aluminium, highlighting the importance of contextual factors in determining the performance of different materials.”

DISAGREEMENT OVER RECYCLING CLAIMS

The organisers of Britain's biggest ever survey of household plastic waste have concluded that recycling alone is not a solution for reducing how much plastic ends up as waste.

However, the British Plastics Federation (BPF) has responded saying: “Promoting the message that ‘recycling doesn’t work’ is unhelpful and could demotivate people from doing the right thing. Recycling does work.”

The Big Plastic Count was run by Greenpeace and Everyday Plastic across a week in May and involved nearly 100,000 households documenting the plastic they threw away.

The results show that the average participating household disposed of 66 pieces of plastic during the week. That equated to nearly 100 billion plastic items annually in the UK, with only 12 per cent being recycled.

The BPF has said that reducing unnecessary waste should be a priority for everyone, as should ensuring as much of the waste we produce is recycled as possible.

Its statement adds: “Considerable change and innovation is underway in the plastics industry, and work is ongoing to scale up technologies and collection systems so that almost all the plastic commonly used for packaging can be recycled.”

STATE OF THE INDUSTRY

Optimism for flexible growth: The global flexible packaging market size is expected to reach more than £300 billion by 2030, according to a new report. Plastics dominated the industry with a share of 70.1% in 2021, but the bioplastic raw material segment is expected to witness the highest growth during the forecast period.

Pessimism about rising costs: Experts have expressed concern about the impact of spiralling price increases on the flexible packaging sector. The contributors to the Supplier Analysis from Packaging News have said there is increased pressure caused by the cost of raw materials, energy, transport, and consumables.

SHOP TALK

Vine lines: New recyclable packaging has been launched by M&S for its vine tomatoes. The cardboard packs feature a “small amount” of plastic film, which the supermarket said is “just enough” to preserve the freshness of the tomatoes.

Out of dates: “Best before” dates have been ditched by M&S on 300 fruit and veg products. Dates will be replaced with a new code that in-store staff will use to “ensure freshness and quality is maintained”.

Baby steps: The UK’s first baby food pouch that can be recycled at home has been launched by Little Freddie. The mono material pouch is made from polypropylene and is designed to be fully recyclable, including the cap.

Refilling to the brim: Refill options for over 300 items have been launched by Morrisons in a pilot store. The store, which the retailer claims will use 43% less carbon overall, stocks more loose products, uses refill hoppers, and offers a recycling station for difficult-to-recycle plastics.

Refilling in the detail: Refillable and reusable packaging is one of the most dynamic sectors of the packaging market, according to a new market study. The study projects that the market will reach £35 billion this year, with rapid growth fuelled by innovative formats and more planet-friendly business models.

CLEANING UP GREENWASHING

Dishing the dirt: Leading brands have been accused of making claims about plastic packaging that amount to “greenwashing”. A study by the campaign group Changing Markets Foundation says there is “a slew” of examples of manufacturers and retailers – including Coca-Cola, Tesco, IKEA, and Unilever – obscuring “the real impact of plastic from consumers”.

You can also “See what comes out in the wash” on the group’s website, which is apparently “created from sustainably-sourced browser cookies”.

Cleansing claims: Root Innovation has also looked at the problem of greenwashing, including the EU’s new Substantiating Green Claims initiative, which will require companies to prove any environmental declarations against a standardised methodology.

RECYCLING RECYCLING NEWS

There’s an app for that: Consumers in Thailand are being incentivised through an app from Mars to return flexible and complex pet packaging in exchange for reward points and discounts on future purchases. The second phase of the SWAP Recycling app is now being launched.

Testing times: CEFLEX has conducted a testing programme to examine how Near Infrared (NIR) technology can be used to sort multi-layer flexible packaging structures. The goal is to generate robust data that will be used to update the Designing for a Circular Economy guidelines.

Dow you’re talking:  Dow and Valoregen are partnering to build a site offering mechanical and advanced recycling capacities in France, with Dow as the main off-taker of post-consumer resins (PCR) from the new plant.

Dow and again:  Dow and Mura Technology are partnering to build multiple facilities in the US and Europe, which will enable the HydroPRS advanced plastic recycling process to be scaled globally.

Theme park:  Approval has been given for the UK’s first “Plastic Park”. The £165m park at Protos, Cheshire, aims to recycle 367,500 tonnes of plastic annually through processing and treatment technologies.

Film directors: A multi-million-pound investment in technology has been announced by EOS Olefins & Polymers Europe in a move designed to boost the development of “simpler, more recyclable” flexible packaging film.

Laying down the law: New legislation has been signed in California requiring all packaging to be recyclable or compostable by 2032 and for packaging makers to pay for the cost of recycling plastic waste.

ALTERNATIVES VIEW

Plastic growth: Scientists have developed a new PET-like plastic made from the non-edible parts of plants. The plastic is considered tough, heat-resistant, and a good barrier to gases like oxygen, making it a promising candidate for food packaging.

KM IN THE NEWS

Our new MD: Frances Busby has joined us as Managing Director. Frances has said: "I’m very excited to be given the opportunity to lead the KM team into the future."

Wonky packaging goes global: The interest in our compostable bags used to package “wonky” bread has gone global, with coverage from Australia and America to Scotland.

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

From the KM team … stay safe, keep up the good work, and value plastic.

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