Thursday, May 30, 2024

Is move from plastic packaging too slow?

A new study based on research with 100 UK packaging experts reveals that the majority plan to stop using plastic in their consumer packaging altogether. However the timeframe for transition is still considerable.

‘FMCG flexible packaging: accelerating the move from plastic to paper’, reports that 92% of UK packaging experts responsible for packaging R&D, technology, design and sustainability for FMCG brands are looking to move away from plastic. Paper and paperboard are the replacement materials of choice, followed by new polymers, bioplastics, and multi-materials.

The report says 27% of packaging experts expect this to happen by 2027, 35% by 2028 and 28% by 2029. The majority (87%) want the switch to alternative materials to replace conventional plastics to take place more quickly.

Currently, the main barriers to using more environmentally friendly options are the higher cost of alternative packaging, which was cited by 53% of respondents, the availability of alternative materials (50%) and ensuring the functionality and product protection remains the same (46%).

When asked about the key drivers that would help the FMCG sector speed up new material development and implementation, the research showed that 70% of respondents believed that more ambitious recycling targets were key, 62% wanted to see increased investment in new materials, and 54% said greater collaboration to accelerate R&D was needed.

Half said that an industry-wide commitment to move away from conventional plastic was necessary, whilst a further 47% cited tighter environmental regulation through taxation of materials with poor environmental performance was important.

“Our study shows that the FMCG sector is highly cognisant of the need to move away from conventional plastics to more environmentally friendly materials which offer better end-of-life outcomes, be it improved recyclability or biodegradation to make life easier for their customers and other stakeholders,” Dr John Williams, Chief Technical Officer at Aquapak, said.

First fully recyclable paper crisp packet

Aquapak Polymers specialises in designing and manufacturing new polymer-based material technologies that uniquely deliver both performance and environmental responsibility at scale.

A high-performance polymer developed by Aquapak, Hydropol,was used in the first domestically recyclable paper crisp packet unveiled in March, which has been developed in partnership with The British Crisp Co. and Evopak, a manufacturer of sustainable paper based flexible packaging.

The packets have been certified as recyclable in standard paper recycling mills by OPRL, the only evidence-based on pack recycling labelling scheme. This means they feature the green recycle logo and can be disposed of in consumer kerbside collections along with other paper material, unlike other crisp packets.

Hydropol can be recycled, re-pulped, composted and is distinctively compatible with anaerobic digestion. Furthermore, if unintentionally released into the natural environment, Hydropol – which is non-toxic and marine safe – will dissolve and subsequently biodegrade.

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