Sustainability & Recyclability

Packaging Innovations 2019: “Big Plastics Debate will progress from ‘what we can do’ to ‘what we have done’ at this year’s show,” says Event Director

22 Feb 2019 --- The UK’s biggest annual packaging show – Packaging Innovations – will take place in Birmingham next week. James Drake-Brockman, Divisional Director of Easyfairs’ Packaging Portfolio, expects the plastics debate to dominate the agenda once again, but this time with a more advanced focus on “what the industry has actually done” rather than “what it can do” to find sustainable solutions to a global waste problem. Here, Drake-Brockman speaks to PackagingInsights about improving consumer recycling behavior, the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) tax on plastics containing less than 30 percent recyclate and the challenges of finding nationwide consistency in UK recycling.

Weekly Roundup: Sealed Air acquires flexible packaging presence in Asia, RKW launches “super sustainable” shrink film

22 Feb 2019 --- In packaging news this week, Sealed Air has expanded its Asia Pacific presence with the acquisition of MGM, a printing and laminating flexible packaging specialist headquartered in the Philippines. In another big business move, pharmaceutical packaging supplier ACG Group has opened a US$93 million capsules manufacturing plant in Brazil. Innovative new launches this week included RKW’s “super sustainable” stretchable shrink film, which is unique in that it can be cut smaller than the pallet size and pulled over the palletized goods.

Nanotechnology in active packaging: Willing consumers still wary of “contamination,” survey finds

21 Feb 2019 --- Consumers are increasingly willing to use nanotechnology-based solutions in food packaging, but they are wary of how the essential oils – used to prevent spoilage – may “contaminate” foods, a report carried out by the EU-funded NanoPack Project has revealed. The survey informs NanoPack’s continued testing of the technology, which is forecast to reach Technology Readiness Level 7 (Demonstration in an operational environment) by the end of the project (December 2019).

Food waste problem makes plastic pouches sustainability frontrunners, says UK food innovator

21 Feb 2019 --- Plastic laminate pouches remain the most sustainable packaging option in the UK, despite the lack of facilities capable of recycling them. That is the opinion of Luke Heeney, Technical and Innovations Director at family-run food innovators, Leathems. Heeney, who will be chairing the Food Forum Seminar at Packaging Innovations 2019 in Birmingham next week, tells PackagingInsights that alternatives to plastic pouches are typically heavier and provide poorer shelf-life protection, increasing the net environmental impact of packaged foods.

Boosting bread bag recycling: Hovis teams up with TerraCycle in UK

21 Feb 2019 --- British bakery brand Hovis is partnering with recycling experts TerraCycle to boost the recycling rates of bread bags of all brand sold in the UK. Although in theory bread bags are recyclable, there are a number of barriers that prevent them from being recycled at a national level, Stephen Clarke of TerraCycle, tells PackagingInsights. Not all local authorities in the UK recycle them, and there is a limited number of collection points and the bag's light weight can be problematic for councils seeking to collect them at scale.

“Plastic has massive eco-benefits and can drive sustainable change,” says Co-op packaging technologist

20 Feb 2019 --- With Packaging Innovations 2019 in Birmingham only a week away, PackagingInsights speaks to Rob Thompson, Packaging Technologist at Co-op, about the UK supermarket’s endeavors to drive sustainable change within the plastic supply chain. Thompson discusses a number of recent Co-op innovations, including the UK’s first compostable carrier bag, compostable paper teabags and plans to make all its packaging recyclable by 2023.

Scrapping plastic: HEMA steps up sustainability by replacing single-use plastic products

20 Feb 2019 --- Dutch-based retail store HEMA is to replace single-use, disposable plastic products in all cases where a more sustainable alternative is available, ahead of the 2021 deadline set by the EU as part of the Single Use Plastics Directive (SUPD). The process has already begun, but HEMA will further roll out the sale of more sustainable versions of plastic stirrers, drinking straws, cotton ear buds and plastic confetti in the fall.

Binning “throwaway culture”: UK waste consultations launched

19 Feb 2019 --- The UK government has launched a series of consultations with the aim of “overhauling the waste system.” The consultations will include the proposed Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme, improvements in the consistency of household recycling and a Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for cans and bottles. A consultation has also been launched on a proposed “world-leading tax” on plastic packaging that contains less than 30 percent recycled content. The government will elicit industry opinions on its plans for a period of 12 weeks, closing on 13 May, 2019.

Self-preservation or valid warning? Plastic bans will result in greater environmental damage, BP stresses

18 Feb 2019 --- Oil and gas “supermajor” BP has released a report suggesting that the global trend of banning single-use plastics and replacing them with alternative materials, such as glass and paper, will lead to drastically increased energy consumption and carbon emissions. Although BP anticipates that overall demand for oil will remain strong, the report speculates that by 2040 there could be a worldwide ban on single-use plastics, which accounted for over a third of plastics produced in 2017.

“It’s been too profitable for the UK waste industry to offload waste to China,” says Hubbub Founder

15 Feb 2019 --- Ahead of Packaging Innovations 2019 in Birmingham this month, PackagingInsights speaks to Trewin Restorick, Founder & CEO of environmental sustainability charity Hubbub, about UK sustainability levels and the issue of plastic packaging pollution. Hubbub collaborates with leading companies like Waitrose, Starbucks and Coca-Cola to create environmental campaigns and measure the efficacy of sustainability initiatives. Here, Restorick discusses the shortfalls of UK recycling, the demonization of plastics packaging and strategies to increase the popularity of reusable coffee cups.

The final straw? SIG and Huhtamaki launch paper straws as single-use plastic bans take effect

14 Feb 2019 --- Two major packaging suppliers are responding to growing demand for plastic-free straws. Beverage carton supplier SIG has launched an FSC-certified paper alternative which can be recycled via existing paper recycling streams. It is made from three layers of paperboard and two layers of adhesive. Food packaging supplier Huhtamaki’s PEFC-certified paper straws, meanwhile, are made of fiber sourced from sustainably managed forests.

Aptar and Ecover launch dispensing closure made of post-consumer recycled resin

14 Feb 2019 --- Aptar Beauty + Home has launched its first dispensing closure made from 50 percent post-consumer recycled resin (PCR) in Europe. The closure was developed in collaboration with Ecover and will feature on the eco cleaning products brand’s washing up liquid. Both companies are seeking to continue exploring opportunities to roll out PCR within the wider Ecover product portfolio.  

The UK must “take back control” of its share of the global plastics problem, says report

13 Feb 2019 --- If the UK wants to be a global environmental leader, it can no longer afford to “sweep its plastic waste issues under other countries’ carpets,” according to The Plastics Packaging Plan, a new report from UK think tank Policy Connect. The report comprises insights from prominent names in research, innovation, politics and industry with support from UK Research and Innovation, and calls for a bold national policy framework to help reduce ocean plastic overseas and boost domestic infrastructure investment and green jobs.

Genesis: Amcor packs a recycling punch with new in-store recyclable laminate

13 Feb 2019 --- Amcor has hit another sustainability milestone with the US launch of Genesis – a new high-performance laminate that offers in-store recyclability. The all-polyethylene (PE) laminate looks and feels like traditional oriented polypropylene (oPP)/PE and oriented polyester (oPET)/PE laminates and can be used to package a variety of consumer goods. Genesis is “complementary” to AmLite, Amcor’s polyolefin-based film that can be used for ambient and retort high-barrier applications, which launched in September 2018.

Purdue University technology “can transform the world’s polyolefin waste” into oil or fuels

12 Feb 2019 --- A new chemical conversion process developed at Purdue University, Indiana, US, could transform the world’s polyolefin waste – a form of plastic – into useful products, such as clean fuels, pure polymers and naphtha. The researchers believe that the technology could boost recycling profits while shrinking the world’s plastic waste stock. The conversion process incorporates selective extraction and hydrothermal liquefaction. Once the plastic is converted into naphtha, it can be used as a feedstock for other chemicals or further separated into specialty solvents.

Waste to paste: VTT Finland develops “revolutionary” recycling device

12 Feb 2019 --- VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed the first prototype of a cylindrical extruder which has shown promise in “revolutionizing the processing of recyclable materials.” The extruder can be used, for example, to turn problematic textiles and plastics as well as food waste into pellets. VTT say that the first prototype has already exceeded the industrial steering group's expectations during initial testing. VTT is currently looking for a partner to commercialize the technology.

Watermarks can harmonize sorting processes amid regulation squeeze: Petcore Conference 2019 review, Part 2

11 Feb 2019 --- One of the key findings at the Petcore Europe Conference, held in Brussels last week, was that in order to achieve the stringent recycling targets set out in the EU Plastics Strategy, the industry must collaborate more efficiently to develop harmonized, efficient sorting processes. Since most recycling problems can be brought back to the sorting process, cracking sorting will crack recycling, according to Gian De Belder, Packaging Technologist, Sustainable Packaging Development at Procter & Gamble (P&G). One potential breakthrough technology that could add efficiency and precision to the sorting process is watermarking.

Shifting conditions, mounting pressure: Petcore Conference 2019 review, Part 1

08 Feb 2019 --- The first ever Europe-wide strategy on plastics was announced in January 2018, but one year on, what impact has this had on the European plastics value chain? PackagingInsights reports from the Petcore Europe Conference 2019 in Brussels, where the “EU Plastics Strategy 2.0. Taking the PET industry to the next step,” discussion centered around what the future of PET will look like amid wide-reaching regulatory and societal change.

Expect innovation: Fruit Logistica predicts shelf-life advancements as sustainability challenge heats up

07 Feb 2019 --- A new report by Fruit Logistica anticipates “significant innovation” in fresh produce packaging and supply chain management in the coming years. This prediction is based on increased consumer awareness of the environmental damage caused by food packaging and the need for greater shelf-life and efficiency in the supply chain.

Bio-naptha boom: Arla Oy to bring entirely wood-based packages to the Finnish market

06 Feb 2019 --- Arla Oy has become the first company in Finland to use renewable, wood-based bioplastics for the thin plastic film necessary in gable top, paperboard cartons for milk, yogurt and cooking products, in collaboration with UPM Biofuels. As a result of the sustainability-oriented revamp, an estimated 40 million Arla packages will be made entirely wood-based and ready for the market this year.

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