In December 2018 the UK government announced that it will give £60 (sterling) million to the packaging industry in order to develop more sustainable types of packaging and reduce the use of single-use plastics. Despite Brexit uncertainty, the UK is still our nearest neighbour and decisions such as this may have an impact on Irish government thinking on funding for sustainable packaging.
The Irish government have taken a similar step in a smaller way by announcing that all government departments, public bodies, and schools will no longer purchase single-use plastic cups, cutlery and straws for use within their offices among other measures. See the Press Release here.
The funding will be delivered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. (The investment is subject to industry entering into a partnership with government and providing significant co-investment to this challenge)
It is hoped that new forms of sustainable packaging and “plastic” will be created and used. These new forms of packaging will be made from farming, food and industrial waste – such as sugar beet, wood chippings and food waste.
The UK minister for Energy and Clean Growth, Claire Perry said that the challenge is to find solutions to the harmful plastics that “blight our land and seas”
The director of the Consumer Packaging Manufacturers Alliance (CPMA), Mike Ridgway, stated “…as an intermediate step the effort and direction should be to start a plastic substitution policy, particularly on simple vac and thermoforming trays, by moving into cartonboard alternatives”
If you are a food producer currently using plastic packaging, you may find this article about a US pasta manufacturer, Modern Table Meals, who changed from using plastic bags for their pasta and meal kits to using cardboard packaging i.e. cartonboard.
He added that “reducing the use of plastic blister packs and other such products using plastics by instead using folding cartons with apertures displaying the product.”
This type of innovation has already been invented as we reported on in a previous blog about the young designer who won the“Save the Planet” Award in the ECMA Young Designer Award 2018 with a design that eliminated the need for the plastic blister pack in a memory card carton.
The issue of the processing and recovery of recycled materials is, of course, a hugely important element of sustainable packaging development. To date, the major difficulty with the processing of household packaging is that it is usually mixed materials and must be sorted by the recycling centre. Until now, this would typically have to be done by hand to minimise contamination levels. (Buyers of recycled materials will only accept contamination levels of 1 to 2%.)
New technologies that will help automate the sorting of post-household packaging are near-infrared scanning technology and air knives or other tools being used to separate different pack types on a fast-moving conveyor.
Read about more ways in our blog 7 Ways to Make your Packaging More Sustainable
If you would like to discuss how to make your packaging more sustainable with us, please call us on 01 -847 0044 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org