Plastics have steadily but quite unfairly become symbolic of our wasteful society, yet no more so than at the start of 2018 with the Prime Minister pledging to ban all non-essential plastic waste by 2042. The bête noir of the modern world has suddenly assumed a more hateful persona with the sometimes misinformed media and public venting their spleen on what they see as a deliberate and recklessly unsustainable way of life, much of it aimed at the packaging industry. We feel we should shout about our integrity.
We are subject to strict regulations in regard to the supply of food grade packaging, monitoring our waste streams and energy consumption. We use materials that are up to 100% recyclable – for example in Healthcare packaging. In order to satisfy food grade standards of food safety and hygiene we use less than 100% recyclate material.
In common with all packaging manufacturers the waste we generate is returned to the Manufacturing Recycle Plants to be washed and crushed into pellets or flake and reused over and over again in production. Our energy usage is closely monitored, for both environmental and commercial reasons.
Under regulatory compliance, packaging suppliers are required to share the responsibilities for reprocessing packaging waste costs based on their position within the supply chain.
Good design is essential if packaging is to succeed in a competitive market. Our products can be blended with 100% recycled material, and designed not to require adhesive seals or labels which can contaminate the plastic making it unsuitable for recycling. And what about packaging excesses? If consumers see an Easter Egg in a brown paper bag or a well-designed pack which one will they choose? This scenario can be associated with a million different products. Consumer-producer partnership is crucial for change to achieve optimal, appealing product packaging. We all need to be educated about responsible usage. Retailers demand maximum pack security to prevent pilfering. So does that make the supplier villain? If it wasn’t a requirement costs and plastic usage would reduce.
Biodegradability is a catchword promoting single use but such materials will not degrade in landfill or the oceans and can only be composted in an industrial environment. Such plastics require temperatures in excess of 50c with UV light in industrial compostable environments. Better to recycle conventional plastics for re-use.
So when all is said and done why question our integrity? For a start our industry is spearheading zero waste/zero landfill. We manufacture in a socially responsible manner complying with Government legislation. We are at the forefront of good design, efficient usage of resources and materials. More importantly the consumer has to be educated to understand the importance of recycling. All plastics have a cradle-to-cradle life cycle. The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WARP) has a 25-year plan involving retailers, brands and packaging suppliers to sign up to ambitious targets. The industry delivers on those targets. So let’s all play by the rules. We only have one Planet – one opportunity – we shouldn’t waste it. For the bigger picture visit: www.macpac.co.uk/guilty-are-we/