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Supermarkets Wary of Avoiding Plastic

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

Supermarkets wary of rushing away from plastic

Major supermarkets and brand owners are wary of rushing away from plastic towards other single-use materials, according to the recent report from Green Alliance entitled “Plastic promises - What the grocery sector is really doing about packaging”. Those interviewed are concerned a knee-jerk switch could cause different environmental impacts.

Read the report in full >>

In light of this report, Printweek this week addressed how brands switching away from plastic could increase their carbon footprint and confuse customers.

Sustainability and the Circular Economy

This week, we attended both the British Plastics Federation (BPF) Sustainability seminar and the CEFLEX general meeting. Here are some highlights: 

BPF Sustainability seminar

DEFRA’s Chris Preston opened the BPF seminar with updates on the “ambitious” agenda of the Government’s Environment Bill, which strives for a resource-efficient economy. 

His review recognised that plastic plays an incredibly important part in our daily lives, highlighting how it protects and preserves our food, is lightweight and easy to transport and how waste prevention is central to policy. Key points of the waste and resource strategy included:

  • Discussions to continue on Deposit Return Schemes (DRS) and producer responsibility for packaging.
  • Further work required on developing standards for biodegradable, compostable, and bio-based plastics.
  • “Food Waste Conversation” taking place in May.
  • Implementation of extended Packaging Recovery Notes (PRN) and harmonisation of household collection by 2023.
  • Introduction of the Plastics Tax in 2022, to tax plastic with less than 30% post-consumer resin (PCR).
  • By 2030, targeting 75% recycling of all packaging with a maximum of 10% residual waste going to landfill. 
  • Introduction of the single-use plastic directive. 
  • New environmental legislation to tackle waste crime. 

More related reading …

The challenges of Post-Consumer Recycled content in lidding film for high temperatures >>
Half of England’s councils currently failing to recycle people’s food waste >>
Public confusion over what can and cannot be recycled >>

PCR for polyolefins

Polyolefin Circular Economy Platform (PCEP) provided an update on developing PCR for polyolefins. Polyolefins account for 70% of EU plastic packaging demand. It was noted that the right safety measures and monitoring processes for food-grade recyclate are essential. Work is underway to develop design for recycling guidelines and to identify key challenges and barriers to a circular economy for polyolefins. 

Lack of design for circularity

A presentation from Professor Adisa Azapagic concluded that most products and systems are not designed for circularity. Also we need to better understand when ‘circular’ is ‘sustainable’, take a systems approach and adopt life cycle thinking, and make decisions based on scientific evidence, rather than an emotional response. 

What is sustainable packaging?

Addressing the question of ‘what is sustainable packaging’, Logoplaste said it should: 

  • Be lightweight to minimise CO2 emissions.
  • Be strong to protect the product, avoid damage and product loss.
  • Be recyclable in an established recycling stream.
  • Be made from recycled and / or renewable resource materials, when applicable and proven.
  • The distance of the material’s source should be as close as possible.
  • Meet customer expectations.
  • Meet market criteria for performance and cost.

Sustainable Development Goals

Also discussed throughout the day was the commitment and contribution of the plastics industry to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and the related challenges. 

Funding for plastic innovation projects

We were also reminded that UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding is available for plastic innovation projects under the Smart Sustainable Plastic Packaging (SSPP) challenge, which aims to make plastics greener rather than replace the material. 

More information >>


This week our Commercial Director Graham Holding attended the General Meeting of CEFLEX (Circular Economy for Flexible Packaging) in London. There are 151 companies and organisations in the CEFLEX organisation representing activity across the entire value chain from Polymer Producers to Waste Management companies.  CEFLEX is currently working to identify and capture best practice relating to what helps and hinders the sortability and recyclability flexible packaging in Europe.  

In 2020 the CEFLEX vision is that flexible packaging will have a comprehensive sustainability and circular economy roadmap with design guidelines and an ability to robustly measure and demonstrate the significant value added to the circular economy. By 2025 the vision extends to having an established collection, sorting and reprocessing infrastructure developed for post-consumer flexible packaging.  

Flexible packaging is an essential part of many elements of everyday life.  It is a resource efficient packaging choice which plays a key role in protecting food and other products, preventing food waste, minimising the use of resources and providing important packaging functionality.  In Europe half of food products are packed in flexible packaging but this accounts for only one-sixth of the total materials used for food packaging.

For more information on CEFLEX >>

And in other news: 

Fruit Logistica 2020

A major event in the industry diary this week was Fruit Logistica 2020. The Fresh Plaza round up included a trend out of plastic into cardboard and notes that reducing companies’ environmental footprint does not only lie with packaging. And do you know what a limelon is? 


From 8 days to infinity

Faerch published a video with the caption “Our trays are made from recycled material and are fully recyclable. From tray to tray – again and again.”

Watch the video >>

You might also be interested in “Lifting the Lid on Plastic: How the ‘greatest thing since sliced bread’ became toast.”

Also …

Packaging Europe revealed that the updated Flexible Packaging Europe (FPE) study “confirms role of flexible packaging in preventing waste”.

And news from the aisles …
Did you know that Magnum ice cream tubs are made with recycled plastic? Launched last year using advanced recycling technology, they say a customer can now “free yourself and indulge while contributing to a more sustainable future”.  

Read more about their collaboration with Sabic >>

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