PEPSI announced a collaboration with the PEEPS Brand, PEPSI x PEEPS a new beverage that combines the taste of PEPSI cola with the PEEPS marshmallow flavor. The PEEPS-inspired design will appear on 7.5-ounce PEPSI mini-cans in bright yellow, pink and blue colorways.
“After what has been a very difficult year, many consumers are looking for new things to smile about. So, to celebrate the start of springtime, Pepsi collaborated with PEEPS to develop a limited batch of its first-ever marshmallow cola. This PEPSI x PEEPS collaboration will be available in three bright colors through a distinctive mini-can design and will most certainly have fans buzzing all season long,” says Todd Kaplan, VP marketing – Pepsi. “We know our consumers love our limited product drops, and we believe that PEPSI x PEEPS will deliver an iconic and delicious pairing that has the potential to become a fan favorite.”
“The PEEPS Brand always finds great joy in teaming up with partners to bring our beloved marshmallow flavor to fans in new and exciting ways, which is why we’re thrilled to collaborate with PEPSI on this limited-edition PEPSI x PEEPS beverage leading up to the Easter holiday,” says PEEPS brand manager Caitlin Servian. “We look forward to seeing how fans express their PEEPSONALITY as part of the #HangingWithMyPEEPS sweepstakes and hope they enjoy this sweet new cola offering.”
PEEPS and PEPSI are also collaborating to bring the collaboration to life with PEEPS dioramas.
US-based consumer products company Tupperware Brands has expanded its ECO+ sustainable product line and announced a partnership with chemical company Eastman.
US-based consumer products company Tupperware Brands has expanded its ECO+ sustainable product line and announced a partnership with chemical company Eastman.
The Lunch-It Containers and Sandwich Keepers will complement the portfolio’s existing products, including the ECO+ Straw Set and ECO+ To-Go Cups.
Launched in 2019, ECO+ products were initially made from a material that used mixed plastic waste.
The line has since incorporated products made from various sustainable, recycled, biobased and environmentally conscious materials.
To further expand the ECO+ range, Tupperware will use Eastman’s Tritan Renew recycled resin.
Tritan Renew is powered by Eastman’s polyester renewal technology, which converts single-use plastic waste into a durable, safe and BPA-free material.
The material uses as much as 50% certified recycled content and can be used to design clear or transparent products.
Tupperware Product Innovation executive vice-president Bill Wright said: “Our efforts to support the next generation of sustainable materials continue to reflect upon our purpose to nurture a better future every day by reducing waste at every step of the product lifecycle.
“I’m honoured today to expand our ECO+ line with new product introductions and our new partnership with Eastman’s Tritan Renew, which allows us to use recycled material in our more transparent designs.
“I know together, we’ll work to reshape what is possible in regards to recycled material.”
Eastman Speciality Plastics vice-president and general manager Scott Ballard said: “Tupperware has been at the forefront of sustainability, even before sustainability was top of mind. The brand is synonymous with bringing durable, reusable plastics into the home to keep food fresh.
“At Eastman, we’re pleased to make molecular recycling a reality and deliver products that reduce consumption, advance the circular economy and create value from waste. Tupperware’s choice of Tritan Renew shows what is possible today, not just years in the future.”
Both this strategic partnership and expansion of the ECO+ range will enhance Tupperware’s No Time to Waste vision, which aims to minimise food and single-use plastic waste through innovation and design.
UK-based dog food and packaging company Skinner’s CEO Tim Hansell tells Packaging Gateway why sustainability has become a vital factor to consider in the pet food packaging industry and how the national pet food packaging shortage gives evidence to this
The lockdowns designed to curb the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic have triggered a sharp rise in UK dog ownership, up from 9.9 million per-pandemic to 12 million as of early 2021. Pet food production has risen to meet this new demand, but it has raised questions about the availability and sustainability of its packaging.
The latest data shows that 80% of retailers found that their customers’ demand has grown for sustainable packaging across its products. For any business that is looking to not just retain its current base but grow it, especially in the ever-competitive dog food market, switching to sustainable packaging is no longer a choice but a vital strand of operations that needs to be addressed.
UK-based dog food and packaging company Skinner’s CEO Tim Hansell tells Packaging Gateway why sustainability has become a vital factor to consider in the pet food packaging industry and how the national pet food packaging shortage gives evidence to this.
The packaging shortage situation
The pet food industry is worth over £2.9bn and is expected to grow 20% year on year. However, a year since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, UK supermarkets have announced that the country is facing a national shortage of pouch food for dogs and cats, due to this unprecedented rise in pet ownership and the failure of supply chains to meet the new demand.
The shortage of pouches is predicted to continue throughout 2021, meaning that retailers will be forced to rethink their approach when it comes to packaging and supply chains. Covid-19 and Brexit have undoubtedly had an impact on the ability of certain brands to keep their cross-border supply chains flowing smoothly and maintaining products on shelves.
Demand for sustainability vs. preference for convenience
The challenge within the industry is to support consumer preference for both sustainability and ease, which has meant that pouches have continued to be a popular purchase choice. What supermarkets have failed to do on a large enough scale to meet demand, is offer products that are sustainable and will not face issues with production/imports whilst also offering high-quality food for dogs.
With the wide range of packaging products now available in the industry, one type of packaging doesn’t suit every need, which has caused issues for many manufacturers who have looked for a way to switch from their usual packaging. There’s also the issue surrounding the balance between using eco-friendly packaging that is also able to retain the full health and nutritional benefits of the product, and with all-natural ingredients sought by 41% of dog food buyers, there is no room for compromise.
The sector and its supporting retailers must act quickly to turn the tide on the impact of single-use plastics as billions of pouches every year are sent to landfill, with standard pouches having one of the lowest recycling rates of all packaging. This is around 50 times worse than the recycling rate of single coffee cups which continually draw media attention.
Sustainability has become the most important factor
The rise of the ethical and health-conscious consumer, and the wider spotlight on the sustainability agenda has forced the somewhat traditional pet industry to rethink every aspect of its offering, from packaging to manufacturing to ingredient sourcing.
Skinner’s: A case study
At Skinner’s, we identified the need to invest in a long-term solution and production technology that will help us navigate this tricky landscape and deliver the best products without compromising on sustainability credentials or nutritional values.
Skinner’s are this year celebrating 50 years of manufacturing high-quality food for working dogs and as part of our celebrations have undergone a total brand refresh with new logos, NPD and the introduction of our 100% recyclable packaging which we manufacture and produce at our two onsite factories in East Anglia.
The updated packaging on our Field & Trial range utilises Tetra Pak, made from over 70% paperboard. Tetra Pak is leading the idea that a circular economy, where every part of the process has a positive force on making a change, gives way to positive packaging for, in this case, the canine food market.
We have also introduced a new treats range which is packaged using Earthpouch plastic-free paper packing solutions, with an aqueous coating, it is 100% eco-friendly plastic-free paper packaging, proving that pouch packaging can be sustainable.
The capabilities to produce Tetra Pak on-site means that Skinner’s has not only reduced its carbon footprint, but we do not rely on imports and external manufacturers which has proved invaluable during the national packaging shortage crisis.
Sustainability isn’t easy – but it is worth it.
The journey to take manufacturing sustainably in-house is by no means simple, easy, or cheap as it requires heavy levels of investment and dedication to get it right, but the long-term impact is far worth it.
The current supply chain issues highlight the value of manufacturing close to home in the UK. The shortage also brings to light the need for the industry to continue to seek sustainable solutions.
The issue is now not only about protecting our planet’s future from plastic waste but has filtered down to the food our dogs eat and a lack of availability. It’s time for retailers to steer consumers towards more sustainable choices.
As more companies move towards biopolymers as an alternative to fossil-fuel-based plastic, some are considering hemp as a potential biomass source, but can this ‘wonder crop’ make an impact in the world of bioplastic? Heidi Vella investigates.
The humble hemp plant has long been known for its versatility: alongside bamboo, it is one of the quickest growing plants and is routinely refined into a variety of commercial items, including paper, textiles, and food products.It is, however, perhaps more closely associated with the drug cannabis, both of which are derived from the cannabis sativa plant. Although a different product altogether, it’s the US’s deregulation of this more infamous product that is driving a burgeoning new market – one using hemp to produce bioplastics for packaging.
The 2018 US Farm Bill changed federal policy, removing hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and allowing the consideration of hemp as an agricultural product: meaning farmers can now cultivate it industrially, the waste from which many say is an ideal bioplastic feedstock.
In fact, one of the first companies to use hemp bioplastics in its products is a cannabis packaging designer and manufacturer. California-based Sana Packaging uses a fibre-reinforced biocomposite made from 30% micronised hemp herd and 70% polylactic acid (PLA), derived from plants such as corn and kenaf, to produce its premium packaging.
Sana co-founder & CSO, James Eichner, says that the company was inspired to use hemp as a feedstock for bioplastics as it has several agricultural advantages over corn, from which most bioplastics are derived.
“Two crops of hemp can be grown in the time it takes to grow one of corn, hemp requires around a third of the water corn does and because it is a canopy crop, it protects the soil from sunlight and erosion – unlike corn, which leaves the soil exposed. Hemp regenerates the soil, whereas corn depletes it,” explains Eichner.
Hemp is also known to absorb large quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere and can create a cellulose content – which is important for bioplastics – of 65%-75%. It is also flexible within crop cycles, due to its small harvesting period of only four months.
Sana initially started producing its packaging with pilot projects and then, when it could assure stability of supply, commercially at the beginning of 2019. Now the company is working with multiple suppliers.
Establishing a supply
However, Eichner says the supply chain for hemp feedstock is by no means comparable to other materials and it currently comes at a premium price.
CEO of US-based Hemp Plastics, Glen Kayll, says hemp bioplastics “can be less expensive than some PLA’s, depending on the base material, but more expensive than fossil fuel fuel-based resin.”
The major factor is that, as yet, there is no commercial availability of polymerized hemp plastic.
“It’s very early stages for hemp, but it is fundamentally a disruptive technology, driven by massive deregulation, which continues to play out around the world. The big swing in North America was the CBD market, which creates large amounts of industrial hemp waste that has made this opportunity more possible,” he explains.
The size of the global industrial hemp market is forecasted to grow at a CAGR of 13.7% between 2020 to 2025 and be worth $12.98bn by 2025. Difficulty refining end products from the crop and fluctuations of availability of raw materials, however, is restricting the market.
Like Eichner, Kayll believes hemp can address some of the environmental concerns around the growth of fossil fuel plastics, as well as the increase in industrial hemp waste.
“We realised that a large amount of hemp was going to be available and thought: wouldn’t it be great to find a way to reduce the amount of fossil fuel plastic and provide a product that is reasonably inexpensive and easy to implement and happens to look fantastic,” he explains.
Similarly to Sana, Hemp Plastics does not use 100% hemp-based plastic, but blends hemp plastics with various different thermoplastics, including fossil fuel and bioplastics, and custom blends.
Lack of infrastructure
While hemp is routinely used in other markets, Corey Kratcha, CEO of C2Renew, a biocomposite manufacturer that uses hemp as one of its inputs, says there is a lack of infrastructure for hemp bio-feeds.
“It’s a chicken and egg scenario with fibre processing in general. It usually starts with a pilot or small-scale investment in the equipment, but the output is so low that the economics to recoup the cost has to be much higher,” he explains.
“That can be prohibitive, there needs to be confirmation there will be revenue sources. We would use it readily if the supply was consistent.”
A challenge to investments in the industry could be that corn, the dominant feedstock for bioplastics, is heavily subsidised in the US. Farmers that produce commodity crops such as corn receive around 40% of their income from subsidies.
What we’re trying to do is recognise the need to move away from corn as a mono-crop in the US and as a feedstock for bioplastics.
“Corn has been subsidised for a very long time and hemp will not compete with it until either the hemp industry reaches a certain economy of scale through its own natural growth, or until hemp itself is subsidised, or until corn is no longer subsidised,” says Eichner.
“What we’re trying to do is recognise the need to move away from corn as a mono-crop in the US and as a feedstock for bioplastics.”
In Europe, where France is the predominant producer of hemp, the hemp packaging industry is as yet non-existent. However, the European Industrial Hemp Association is promoting it as a potential application and says the sector is becoming more organised and has “great opportunities ahead”.
The Association reports that there is currently an oversupply of hemp biomass in the EU, caused by the “hype” around CBD, which in turn has led to an ‘explosive growth in the number of cultivators, producers, and investors’.
It was recently reported that authorities in the Italian town of Roccasecca are exploring the potential for developing a hemp plastics supply chain while cleaning up local land, as the plant has remediation possibilities. A company called Eir Health also claims to be building the first factory in Europe to produce 100% biodegradable Hemp PLA.
Despite hemp’s environmental credentials, some question the sustainability of bioplastics full-stop, noting that they are often non-recyclable and commercial compositing is still nascent.
Eichner agrees that the end of life argument is where the sustainability case for plant-based materials becomes harder to make.
However, Kayll says even if it is not biodegradable, reducing the amount of plastic used by 25% – the level of hemp used in Hemp Plastics’ products – is “meaningful”.
“If you are a company that’s running hundreds of thousands of tonnes of plastic every year, then that’s a very meaningful reduction, and it’s also a great way to sequester CO2,” he says.
While the hemp bioplastics sector is still fledgeling, Kayll believes in the future it will compete with other commodities due to its durability, versatility, and ease of growth.
“It’s a very valuable plant, there’s going to be many applications, it’s just going to take a while – industries take time to build, but the bioplastics and sustainable materials market is growing extremely quickly relative to your traditional incumbent markets,” says Kayll.
Indeed, by 2030, it is estimated that 40% of the plastics industry will be bioplastics. Furthermore, Kratcha says it only takes one huge company to start using hemp bioplastics to move the market.
“Hypothetically, if Walmart said it wants hemp composite in its clothes hangers it would very much move the needle,” he concludes.
Scotch whisky Littlemill Testament has been launched in new bespoke decanters from Glencairn Crystal Studio.
Littlemill is Scotland’s oldest licensed distillery and its new expression comes in a handblown crystal decanter.
According to Glencairn, the decanters have been facet cut at the base by skilled Glencairn craftspeople, mirroring the style of glass cutting during the Georgian period. A handmade collar was designed and produced to fit around the neck of the decanter.
Each decanter is housed in a bespoke handcrafted cabinet and the team at Glencairn worked closely with the cabinet manufacturer to develop the metal elements required to match the metalware on the decanter. Each cabinet comes complete with a dress stopper made from the sandstone taken from the remains of the Littlemill distillery. Crystal pegs had to be cut by hand and were then hand fitted into the decorative stoppers.
Only 250 decanters have been made and the limited edition Littlemill Testament retails at £8,000.
Futamura has supplied German confectionery brand Cool with NatureFlex compostable cellulose films to package its confectionery product Ocoologisch Herz Lolli (lollies).
According to Futamura, its NatureFlex and Cellophane products have good technical performance for confectionery, with barrier, optical clarity and deadfold, a benefit for traditional twist wrap applications.
The films can also be printed and laminated just like conventional plastic films.
The individual lollies are wrapped in single-ply NatureFlex and the outer bag is a NatureFlex / biofilm laminate.
André Richter from Cool, said: “We were looking for an ‘environmentally friendly’ variant of this type of packaging and found a suitable price-performance ratio at NatureFlex. Good quality, stability and hold are important.
“We have found the machine performance to be good and in no way inferior to other conventional films. We regularly receive good feedback from consumers who feel it is very positive that we care about the environment, often asking if there are other products using these bio films.”
Olga Kachook, senior manager at the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, asks if the FMCG value chain’s fixation on shelf life hinders the ability of packaging to prevent food waste.
Do you think of packaging as a tool for fighting climate change? It can be. Preventing food waste is a top solution to climate change, and making changes to packaging is the seventh most effective way to reduce the climate emissions from food waste. Research shows changes to packaging design could help prevent 650,000 tons of food waste a year.
While the potential for preventing food waste – and its associated emissions – with packaging is impressive, the devil is in the details. It’s true that packaging can help prevent food waste by extending shelf life, but it’s not a guaranteed fix. Rather, it depends on how the packaging is designed and used in practice.
First, let’s consider the disconnect between manufacturers and consumers. Brands and retailers may consider extended shelf life for products as a significant achievement for food waste prevention. Yet, consumer research seems to indicate these benefits aren’t realized by consumers. In a survey of 1,117 Austrian consumers, only about one-third noticed the shelf life-extending function of packaging, while nearly two-thirds of consumers did not agree that packaging helps to avoid food waste.
It’s worth noting that packaging in retail settings serves just as much to efficiently and easily distribute, stock, and price food as it does to extend shelf life or protect the product. For both companies and consumers, packaging is often equally about convenience as it is about food waste prevention.
Today, food manufacturers typically seek to make a product with the maximum possible shelf life, since this gives a company more time to transport and sell the product at retail. The trade-off is that a longer shelf life can be concerning to consumers, who are increasingly not interested in foods that appear to be highly processed.
From a packaging standpoint, a longer shelf life may also require more material or more complex packaging, which may not be recyclable. For example, do pastries, which are often individually packaged in unrecyclable plastic film, need to have a retail shelf life of several weeks? Certain products, such as baked goods, are typically purchased by consumers for specific occasions on or near the day of purchase. With this in mind, we might design packaging that meets “real world” shelf life needs and does not limit recyclability.Expand
Consider how other solutions beyond shelf life extension might prevent food waste. For example, some foods like dried pasta are well-suited to being sold loose and unpackaged. Typically, pasta’s packaging accounts for 60% of dried pasta’s total carbon footprint. What if consumers were able to purchase only what they need from bulk stations and reduce excessive purchasing? Combined with the elimination of single-use primary packaging, the reduced product waste could lower the overall carbon footprint of dried pasta.
If these solutions can prevent food waste, what stops more consumers from buying unpackaged food, and more retailers from offering products loose? For consumers, it likely comes down to the inconvenience of using bulk stations or concerns about the perceived freshness of food that has been “out” in bulk bins. For retailers, there are issues of cleanliness, staffing, and checkout procedures that need to be addressed. These barriers are masking real opportunities to reduce both food waste and packaging waste.
Nestle is one example of a company that has questioned its shelf life needs. It has suggested that its packaging for shelf-stable products “may in many cases be overspecified, and that a more sustainable use of materials could go hand-in-hand with reduced shelf life.” They note that their shelf-stable foods typically have a shelf life of 18 months or two years, even though consumers may not need it to last for such a long time.
Ultimately, it’s not enough to assume that extended shelf life automatically prevents food waste. As the recent STOP Waste SAVE Food project concluded, “until concrete evidence of waste reduction is provided, the effect of an extended shelf life can only be considered as a potential solution for waste avoidance. In practice, counterproductive effects can also occur which cancel out the targeted waste reduction or even reverse it. For example, prolonged shelf life can lead to too many products being offered or purchased at the same time.”
What can manufacturers and brands do about this? It’s time to explore the link between packaging and food waste in more detail. Shelf life extension is one possible strategy for preventing food waste, but there are others – better closures and product evacuation, smaller portion sizes, active and intelligent packaging, and improved resealability to name a few.
Ultimately, brands and manufacturers need to assess the design and performance of each package, particularly how it can help store and deliver food in consumers’ homes. Packaging’s job is to protect food and prevent waste. Sometimes, this might be achieved through shelf life extension. In other cases, design innovations are needed to ensure that the root causes of consumer food waste, like portion sizes that are too big, are addressed. With better design, packaging can be a truly effective tool for fighting food waste and mitigating the climate crisis.
Versalis, Eni’s chemical company, is expanding its Revive portfolio to include a new product for food packaging made with 75% domestic post-consumer polystyrene.
The product, referred to as Versalis Revive PS Air F – Series Forever, is the result of the company’s existing collaboration with Forever Plast S.p.A., and has been developed as part of a collaborative project with various players in the polystyrene industry value chain, including Corepla, ProFood and Unionplast.
This collaboration has given rise to a tray that is suitable for food and is composed of recycled polystyrene developed by the companies that are members of Pro Food. According to the company, the solution is also recyclable.
The tray consists of an inner layer containing Versalis Revive PS Air F – Series Forever and two outer layers made from virgin polystyrene. This structure, known as the A-B-A functional barrier, ensures food contact compliance.
The functional barrier design and stringent testing were developed in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging (IVV), a Germany-based applied research institute that works with industry to develop viable technologies for bringing innovative products to the market.
This new solution is scheduled to be marketed over the next few weeks and is mainly aimed at the meat and fish packaging market.
The Versalis Revive range comprises products made exclusively from mechanical recycling of post-consumer plastics and plastics from the industry supply chain. In addition to Versalis Revive PS, other polymer-based products are available on the market, including expandable polystyrene (Versalis Revive EPS) and polyethylene (Versalis Revive PE).
With the increase in home deliveries of medicines and pharmaceuticals – accelerated by COVID-19 – it is important to implement sustainable packaging early in the supply chain to ensure not just speed and security, but to minimize the environmental impact. Victoria Hattersley spoke with Alex Manisty, Group Head of Strategy at DS Smith, about the implications of this increased demand for the packaging sector.
VH: Clearly the COVID-19 crisis has increased demand for home delivery of healthcare products, but is this merely accelerating a process that was already taking place?
AM: While the move to online is a trend that has been steadily increasing, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to a surge in that trend across all sectors, the level of which was not expected for at least a few more years.
Our research has also found that many of the online shopping habits European consumers have adopted during the boom are here to stay. The pharmaceutical industry will need to adapt to these changes in order to further satisfy consumers, but as they do so, it’s vital they don’t lose sight of another key demand from online shoppers – sustainability. Consumer expectations and values are continuing to shift, with people increasingly wanting brands to help them live more sustainably – in fact, DS Smith recently revealed that 71% of Europeans believe long term climate change is as serious a crisis as Covid-19.
VH: Do you think the healthcare sector is prepared to cope with the increased packaging demands of e-commerce when it comes to safety, security and sustainability?
AM: With the rising trend of e-commerce, the industry needs to ensure that healthcare products, including drugs and important medicines, can be transported with no compromise over their security. High performance cardboard packaging is able to effectively protect high-value and sensitive products along complex global supply chains – innovations include tailor-made cardboard trays with inserts that secure products, anti-counterfeit features, and lastly, technology that can monitor each package in real time to bolster security.
VH: What are the most important strategies the industry can use to ensure medical products are packaged safely and at the right temperatures?
AM: The challenge to us and the entire packaging industry is clear – it’s about ensuring the safety of medical products in a way that also satisfies the overwhelming need for sustainability.
For example, some manufacturers use EPS foam insulators keep products at the correct temperature. Unfortunately, this foam is a problem plastic that is very difficult to recycle. In our mission to offer fully recyclable solutions, we recently partnered with TemperPack to introduce ClimaCell®, a sustainable thermal insulation barrier for temperature sensitive goods.
Not only are ClimaCell liners an award-winning thermal insulation barrier with cushioning protective properties, they are made from paper and bio-based materials which can be easily recycled in paper recycling bins by the consumer after use. Switching from EPS foam to ClimaCell® also reduces carbon emissions by 65%, aligning to consumer expectations about concerns for the environment.
It’s innovations such as this, alongside our tailor-made cardboard trays and anti-counterfeit measures, that will ensure the safety and security of medical products need not come at the cost of sustainability.
VH: What are your thoughts on emerging technologies such as NFC to help increase supply chain security, efficiency and improve patient experience?
AM: Any packaging innovation that provides greater security and efficiency for customers, is an innovation that we welcome and our expert design and innovation team is constantly embracing and investigating cutting edge technology so we can develop innovative solutions that help our customers.
In line with this, is our use of ParceLive, an advanced multi-sensory tracker that travels within packaging and continuously records real-time data linked to supply chain conditions, such as temperature, humidity, location, and even if the parcel is dropped, tilted, or opened.
Our packaging solutions are fundamental in helping our customers to safely deliver their products across multiple markets and supply chains, and by knowing exactly what’s happening at every touchpoint along the supply chain, we can help them and their logistics partners deliver results in packaging performance, quality, security and sustainability.
VH: With more and more healthcare products and devices being delivered directly to the patient, what packaging strategies can be used to improve the patient experience and tackle the ongoing challenge of increasing compliance?
AM: The healthcare industry needs to understand that the boom of home delivery means that packaging is now one of the unique ways they can connect with patients and improve their experience.
With this opportunity the industry needs to be ready to explore innovations such as personalised packaging, through bespoke printing capabilities, and also be mindful that consumers continue to demand sustainable packaging solutions. We work with each of our customers to find solutions that work specifically for them.
VH: How can the necessary requirements for safety and security be balanced out with the need to minimize the environmental impact of the supply chain?
AM: There is no compromise when it comes to safety and security, and fortunately, sustainable packaging is a solution that delivers on these aspects and reduces the impact on the environment too. It is circular by design, fit for a circular economy and feeds into a closed loop cycle. It allows for the designing out of waste from the onset, ensuring that what does remain can be recycled or reused into new products at end of life, so that the material comes full circle. A well-designed package can also ensure that recycling is made easier for consumers, especially as the rise of e-commerce in all sectors is on the rise.
As Extended Producer regulations loom in SA, leading SA packaging group, Polyoak, took the opportunity on Global Recycling Day (18 March 2021) to put its recycling credentials forward, both internally to employees and also to its market base.
Polyoak MD, Karl Lambrecht explained, “With Extended Producer Regulations coming into effect from 5 May 2021, we are fully committed to partnering with our customers to achieve the legislated recycling targets.”
Polyoak’s rigid plastic packaging is already widely recycled. For example, HDPE beverage bottles are the most recycled milk packaging in South Africa, with a recycling rate of 75%. These bottles are recycled into numerous useful items including new bottles for personal and home care products, crates, bins and plastic bags.
‘Design for Recycling’ best practice
“Polyoak is well placed to advise customers on optimal recycling best practice,” added Lamprecht. “It is essential that plastic packaging is designed and adapted to give it the best chance of being circulated multiple times through our economy, by choosing materials that are widely recycled in practice and at scale in South Africa.
“The whole pack must be considered in terms of its recyclability, as even one component can limit or prohibit recycling of the whole pack. Polyoak offers rigid plastic packaging that is already optimised for recycling. Furthermore, all our packaging carries accurate and legible material identification codes (MICs) required to assist collectors and recyclers.”
Designing for recycling is also essential to create high quality feedstocks which can be included as recycled content in new packaging.
Polyoak already offers bottles containing recycled PET (rPET) and, provided there is a sufficient supply of rPET, the company is well placed to assist customers in meeting the legislated recycled content target of 10% for PET beverage bottles in year one, as well as the SA Plastics Pact target of 30% by 2025.
New drums with recycled content
Polyoak is especially excited about its new Tight Head Drum range made from virgin and recycled HDPE, available in sizes ranging from 100L up to 250L.
“This advanced multilayer technology now gives customers access to world-class quality drums that are fully recyclable and can contain recycled content. This will significantly contribute towards circular economy,” noted Lamprecht.
“It’s clear that extended producer responsibility (EPR) is our collective responsibility. It’s not just about supplying environmentally sustainable packaging. We need to motivate action through education and inspiration – every touchpoint is an opportunity!”
This was the thinking behind Polyoak’s internal programme of events to celebrate Global Recycling Day.
Polyoak hosted various internal workshops across its manufacturing sites in Diepriver, Aeroton, Roodekop, Kwa-Zulu Natal and East London to remind employees about the role of plastic packaging in a circular economy, and the relevance of separation at source to maximise recycling which helps create job opportunities, diverts valuable waste going to South Africa’s already overflowing landfills and helps prevent plastic pollution.
Employees already separate their waste out for recycling at all manufacturing sites.
Water and energy optimisation programmes are in place and there is a continuous focus on reducing waste throughout operations.
Polyoak’s Roodekop site in Gauteng has already achieved ‘zero waste to landfill’ status with learnings being shared across the business. Separation of waste plays a crucial role in achieving ‘zero waste’ status.
Polyoak’s Marketing and Sustainability Executive, Michelle Penlington (Left) expanded, “SA’s National Waste Management Strategy highlights the importance of reducing waste going to landfill and eliminating plastic pollution.
“Therefore, our campaign aimed to educate and inspire households to divert their organic kitchen waste and recyclable packaging from landfill, by learning how easy it is to make compost and recycle their plastic instead. Both streams are too valuable to waste!”
Diverting organic and waste from landfill
Organic waste contributes more than 50% of total general waste disposed at landfill, where it is at risk of emitting dangerous methane gasses.
Therefore, Polyoak partnered with Soil for Life for Recycling Day. This NGO teaches people how to grow nutritious food with whatever resources they have available. They facilitated a workshop with Polyoak employees to demonstrate simple ways of transforming organic kitchen waste into compost.
Penlington said, “Composting in Polyoak’s 20-litre plastic buckets is simple and effective. It’s not necessary to buy expensive equipment or have a large garden.”
According to Soil for Life, easy growers in small spaces include tomatoes, strawberries, eggplant and radishes for example.
An effective way to help eliminate litter is to highlight and reinforce the ‘trash is cash’ principle and to get households to separate out their recycling, to be beneficiated at its highest value.
Polyoak employees have been trained and already practice separation of waste at work. For Recycling Day, Polyoak hosted various talks by local recycling organisations to provide useful tips on home recycling, to help employees take home the recycling behaviours learnt at work.
Gregory Player from Clean C highlighted the importance of On-Pack Recycling Labels (OPRLs), which should be applied to all primary packaging to clearly direct the consumer on how to responsibly dispose of their packaging at end of life.
Upcycling plastic packaging
Recent research by Polyco and the Moss Group shows that over 80% of plastic (polypropylene) tubs are re-used for a myriad of other purposes, once empty. This ranges from freezing leftovers and using as a lunchbox, to storing stationery, toys and tools.
“The widespread upcycling of our ice-cream, yoghurt and spreads tubs inspired us to explore additional re-uses for our packaging that are practical and useful at home, school or work. This was the inspiration for our ‘Packaging Upcycling’ internal campaign launched on Global Recycling Day,” explained Penlington.
Recycling Day also presented the opportunity to show employees how entrepreneurs transform Polyoak’s recycled packaging into beautiful arts and crafts.
Polyoak’s Diepriver branch partnered with local Cape Town artist, Heath Nash, well-known for his pleated lampshades and flowers made from folded die-cut panels of polypropylene, much of which has been exhibited at numerous Design Indabas and galleries in London, Tokyo, Milan and Vienna.
Nash heads up “Guga S’thebe” [Our Workshop] based in Langa, Cape Town, as a self-sustaining, free and supportive collaborative workspace that provides economic and creative stability through learning and skills development. Heath and his team facilitated numerous plastic craft workshops with Polyoak’s employees to highlight the entrepreneurial value and potential of plastic packaging.
Lambrecht concluded, “Sustainable packaging is everyone’s responsibility. We need to leverage every platform available to help educate and motivate all citizens of this beautiful country to use plastic responsibly and recycle to help eliminate plastic pollution.”