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Q&A with Grocery Trader, Packaging Showcase

Alan Lockhart, KM's Business Unit Director (UK & Ireland), recently discussed sustainability in packaging in the June edition of Grocery Trader.  From innovations to challenges, from trends to advice, Alan covers the latest advancements in lidding films to ensure we're on the right road to sustainability.   

What innovations has the packaging industry made towards recyclability?

In the flexible plastic packaging sector, mono material solutions ensure packaging is designed for recycling in line with guidance from CEFLEX.  KM also offer lidding film solutions that allow the food processor or manufacturer to use a recyclable mono material tray, including solutions where the whole pack (tray and lid) is of the same mono material.  

What are the biggest challenges in achieving more sustainable packaging?

The collection, sorting and recycling infrastructure for flexibles is probably the biggest challenge in achieving sustainability. UK supermarkets have led the way with in-store collection points, filling the gap until kerbside collection is introduced nationwide. This is expected by 2027 and will be funded through the EPR scheme currently in development by the UK Government. To date, the focus has been on the recycling of polyolefin packaging, which is often recycled into a lower value product. Rigid PET is widely recycled globally, and the recycling of flexible PET packaging back into food packaging presents a great opportunity for circularity in packaging. The development of chemical recycling technologies will be a big step in realising this, but it takes time to upscale solutions. Plus, lack of government clarity on how soft plastics will be recycled.

What trends are you seeing in this sector?

  • Movement to mono material solutions designed for recyclability in line with the design guidelines from CEFLEX.
  • Inclusion of post-consumer recycled (PCR) content in packaging.
  • Other sustainable solutions include opportunities for light-weighting packaging and extending the shelf-life and freshness of food, including solutions for high pressure processing (HPP).
  • A return to plastic.
  • Looking ahead, trends will be heavily influenced by EPR. Weight and recyclability will be key.

What are your best-known products and services?

KM Packaging specialises in lidding film solutions for the chilled and frozen convenience food sector. We also offer flexible packaging solutions for confectionery and snacks.

Who are your major customers and what do you do for them?

We work with the UK’s largest ready meal manufacturers like Greencore and Oscar Mayer, providing easy peel, hot peel, and weld seal lidding film solutions. We also work with food manufacturers across the globe, with customers in Australia, the US, South America, South Africa, and Europe.  We marry this with outstanding supply chain solutions and in-depth technical support.

What are your latest advances in safety, sustainability and the environment?

We have launched PCR (post-consumer recycled content) lidding film solutions across several product ranges. All the product specifications that contain PCR derived from mechanical processes meet the minimum of 30% content required to avoid the tax. These are suitable for chilled and “remove before heating” applications. For dual-oven heating, we can offer chemically derived PCR lidding film, however such solutions will not provide any tax relief. It’s understood this is under review. All our PCR films are classed as 90%+ mono material specifications.

We also offer mono material lidding film solutions across our K-Peel, K-Foil, K-Seal, and K-Reseal brands, all designed for recyclability.

Have you made any other innovations you can tell us about?

Our C-Range of compostable packaging enhances our portfolio of sustainable flexible packaging solutions.  Our bio-based portfolio of compostable products has been developed in partnership with Treetop Biopak, and solutions include bags, stretch wrap, shrink film, netting, and tape.

Do you have any category wide advice?

EPR is going to be a key, if not the principle, driver in packaging development and innovation over the next two to three years. If you are looking at making significant investment in plant or equipment, look forward to what will be needed, or at least aim to make your equipment flexible in format.

View the digital edition of Grocery Trader June 2022 (p.76) here >>

Read the article in full here, as published on Grocery Trader online >>

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