As you can probably guess, plastics, sustainability and circular economy were key topics with ‘The Big Plastics Debate’ taking centre stage. Shortly followed by us of course!
We understand it’s hard to get everything in over the two days, so if you didn’t manage to visit us or see any seminars, here’s what you might have missed…
Our Ready 2 Recycle Range was a huge hit at the event and attracted a great variety of businesses looking for sustainable plastic and paper-based packaging solutions.
We received a lot of interest, some excellent feedback and a heap of very good questions.
If you came along to find out some information and can’t remember our response, not to worry!
What does Ready 2 Recycle mean? The products in the Ready 2 Recycle range are made from a mono material structure (excluding the paper bags), which means they are ready to be recycled and require no separation when they reach the appropriate waste management facilities.
Are they as strong as conventional laminated plastic bags? Yes!
Is the print process and print quality the same? Yes!
Can I have them in a matt finish? Yes!
Do they come in different formats/pack sizes? Yes!
Can the BOPP bags be heat-sealed? Yes!
Can I have a zipper on PE/PE bags? Yes!
We dropped in on the ‘Redefining single-use plastic’ seminar by Prof. Anthony J. Ryan, Professor of Physical Chemistry, University of Sheffield, who delivered a humorous, yet articulate talk on how the issue isn’t necessarily single-use plastics but how we perceive them.
Although it’s clear that plastic pollution is a problem, the inconvenient truth is that we rely on it. Plastic is the global packaging material of choice and as a result, is impossible to avoid. It makes up our cars, containers, electronics and even our clothes .
Many people believe a plastic ban is the answer to our problems. Even though this would reduce plastic, it would consequently create more food waste and result in higher carbon emissions from alternative packaging materials, causing even more damage to the environment.
Another way to reduce plastics that the Professor mentioned was the frequently proposed idea to burn them. However, that again ignores the CO2 contamination subsequently caused, given that plastics are made from oil.
It’s also easy to disregard how our own individual lifestyles and human behaviours play a huge part and we as companies and consumers must adjust our linear thinking in order to change the ways in which we contribute.
For example, single-use plastic isn’t single use by any means. It is used to portion, protect, transport, store and dispense food products over a period of time, unlike straws or coffee cup lids which may be used only momentarily then thrown away*.
Yet so much of single-use plastic is simply discarded, instead of washed and re-used and the focus has been on recycling when the stark reality is that only 9% of the plastic that has been produced globally since 1950 has actually been recycled**.
Of course, the answer is never easy or straight forward but here’s some food for thought, given by key speakers at the seminar.
As stated by Tony “Add economic value to packaging so it won’t end up in the sea.”
Justin Kempson, Sales & Innovation Director of Charpak Limited, believed that being open and honest with consumers is vital for change. “Tell them why we’re using plastic” he stated in the ‘Achieving full circle in the plastics economy: how 360 recyclability is now a reality’ seminar.
Justin also spoke about collaborating with businesses and LA’s to create products from waste, something which Charpak is currently doing with their ‘Circle of life’ initiative.
Working in partnership with other organisations is an effective way to ensure that waste collection and recycling is improved. More retailers and brands should consider circular economy initiatives if they are serious about sustainability.
He went on to explain why using branding to influence behaviour is vital. Companies can engage, educate and motivate consumers on what to do with their finished packaging, which could be key to making them rethink what they do with their waste.
This viewpoint was later backed by Kevin Vyse, Senior Packaging Technologist and Circular Economy Lead for Marks & Spencer. “Consumers are addicted to convenience” he claimed in the ‘Nothing more certain than change. Adapting to a circular mindset’ seminar.
An accurate statement, when you observe the ways in which customers live today. Therefore, if the information provided isn’t obvious and accessible, it will more than likely be ignored.
This is why it’s so important to push buyers to follow a ‘make, use, repair, re-use, recycle’ pattern and packaging design could play a huge part in ensuring this is implemented.
If companies really want to reduce waste from plastic packaging whilst retaining the quality, it is important they engage with packaging manufacturers early in the design and innovation process to provide improved packaging options as well as sustainability advice.
You can keep up to date with the ‘Plastics: Redefining Single-Use’ project https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/news/nr/plastic-waste-solutions-how-to-recycle-reduce-use-plastics-sheffield-1.822170