News & Updates

Cox & Co claims first flow wrap chocolate paper packaging

Single origin chocolate brand Cox & Co says it has created the first ever paper flow wrap chocolate packaging.

This will allow the brand to phase out all plastics and give consumers a kerbside recyclable wrapping.

Offering a 12-month minimum shelf life, Cox & Co’s new paper flow wrap solution could be a big step in reducing the large amount of chocolate packaging waste that currently ends up in landfill.

Gavin Cox, founder of Cox & Co, said consumers are now actively seeking brands that take sustainability seriously and products that are easy to recycle.

“Chocolate is a popular household purchase and yet so little of the packaging can be easily recycled at kerbside.”

This new packaging also allows the brand to reduce its packaging costs by 35%, offsetting price rises and enabling it to continue to offer its bars at a competitive price.

“This will make a significant difference to our costs overall,” added Cox. “We can effectively keep prices competitive whilst doing our bit to reduce our environmental impact; it’s a win win.”


News & Updates

DS Smith works on plastic-free Oceans toilet tissue & kitchen towels

DS Smith has worked on new packaging for Oceans – one of the first UK manufacturers to offer plastic-free toilet tissue and kitchen towels.

According to DS Smith, 1 in 4 (26%) online shoppers would stop ordering from a company if they experienced too much unnecessary packaging, and over a fifth (22%) would do the same if the packaging was not recyclable or difficult to recycle.

The brand wanted to design a range of introductory packs which would encourage customers to make use of its subscription offer for toilet roll, safe in the knowledge that the packaging was plastic-free and 100% recyclable.

DS Smith developed a range of designs for the introductory packs, ensuring that this aligned with Oceans sustainability mission as a business.

After testing from DS Smith designers and Oceans customers, the finished box was made from 100% recyclable content, with modified dimensions to cut down on waste and space.

To maximise customer experience when opening the box, the design featured an introduction to the brand, Oceans messaging and a QR code with details on how first-time customers could get 10% off on the next Oceans order.

As a result, Oceans saw over half of customers make a repeat order online or make another purchase at the same time as the trial purchase.

Andy Brereton, design for creative lead, DS Smith, said: “Consumers are paying greater attention to where they source their everyday essentials, but this doesn’t mean that the sustainable choice needs to be boring. The challenge with many sustainable toilet roll subscription brands is designing packaging that remains appealing and functional, all the while staying true to the brand’s values.”

Graham Cox, chief operating officer for Accrol, added: “Sales of eco-friendly toilet roll have been on the increase over the past couple of years, and at Oceans, we want to make it easier for people to give sustainable alternatives a go. It was crucial that the finished ecommerce design reflected our values as a business of caring for people and planet – from the materials used for the packaging, through to the branding featured on the box. Introducing a smaller box for our subscription orders has also meant that we’ve cut down on waste and space in the design, thanks to modified dimensions.”


News & Updates

Free The Birds revamps packs for wellness products brand Magne B6

Free The Birds has designed new packs for wellness products brand Magne B6.

Parent company Sanofi Consumer Healthcare sought a design solution which repositioned the product as a mental health wellness brand in key markets across Europe.

Free The Birds was tasked with the transformation not only of the brand’s Magne B6 packaging, but also the perception of the product and its daily usage, both on and off pack.

]A key objective was to drive brand penetration across a multitude of consumer touchpoints, creating a distinct look and feel which enforced the benefit-led architecture of Magne B6 as a wellness brand.

The design agency created a brand marque which visualises crystal shards, aimed at signifying ‘strength of mind’ for consumers.

The crystal shard becomes an omnipresent factor in product displays, marketing and communications including TV advertisements and the website.

Nick Vaus, co-founder and managing partner, Free The Birds, said: “The nature of designing packaging for health and wellness products always presents an exciting challenge, as potential customers must feel an immediate sense of recognition and trust in the products they choose to purchase. This is never more prevalent than with products which are to be considered as a wellness brand, over and above products which serve a specific purpose for those suffering from a deficiency.”

Błażej Herzyk, global marketing director, Sanofi Consumer Healthcare, added: “With the dramatic growth of the mental health and wellness space, it has become imperative that Magne B6 be seen as a product which can support mental wellness, and strengthen our position to expand access and bring health in the hands of more people. We are pleased with the solution that Free The Birds has provided to help us achieve more effective market presence, while also ensuring robust cohesion on shelves and in marketing outreach efforts.”


News & Updates

Smartfill technology: packageless retail solutions embrace the circular economy

Smartfill technology is emerging as a game-changer in the retail packaging space. Initiated by Smollan as an R&D project, and developed by digital transformation agency DY/DX as a solution for packageless retail, this technology is set to redefine how we think about packaging and its role in the circular economy.

At its core, smartfill technology is designed to optimise retail packaging through a smart, efficient and sustainable solution.

“A true circular economy solution is not just about recycling, it’s about completely rethinking how products are packaged and delivered to consumers, reducing waste and improving efficiency,” says Nevo Hadas of DY/DX.

There is a clear and urgent need to rethink retail packaging and business models fully within different market contexts, according to Hadas.

“While recycling may work well in Europe, in developing markets where recycling facilities are often unavailable, the current models fall short. The smaller packaging to cater for these markets means more plastic waste and less product, exacerbating environmental issues, while failing to meet consumer needs for affordability,” he says.

Packageless retail solutions

Smartfill technology, with its focus on packageless retail, offers a viable solution. By reducing the need for traditional packaging and enabling more efficient product distribution, it can help address both the waste issue and the need for cost-effective retail in under-serviced areas.

One of the most compelling examples of Smartfill’s potential is the success of the Spar Tembisa pilot in South Africa. Customers can use their own containers or paper bags, fill them with the desired amount of product from Smartfill dispensers, and only pay for the product they take.Image suppliedImage supplied

“This pilot demonstrated strong consumer demand, strengthening the retailer business case for packageless retail. Consumers purchased varied amounts that are not prepackaged on shelves, while the retailer enjoyed higher margins by selling from bulk at small-size prices. The pilot tripled the sales of product under 1kg, moving over 550kg of product,” says Hadas.

Similarly, a Unilever pilot in Bangladesh showcases the adaptability of Smartfill technology. The project focused on delivering personal care products in a packageless format, demonstrating that even industries heavily reliant on traditional packaging can successfully embrace this new approach.

The initiative supports Unilever’s global work to reduce the impact of its products when used by consumers. Unilever Bangladesh’s work in sustainability, including the Smartfill refill dispenser as a solution for the mass market, was presented to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, to great acclaim.

Smartfill’s potential extends even beyond retail. A school pilot with fortified food manufacturer Millhouse in Hilton, Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, shows that this technology can also play a pivotal role in addressing malnutrition.

By using Smartfill systems, the school is providing the nutrient-rich Endgame formula to students, monitoring usage with smart face recognition technology and providing an advanced way to manage stock replenishment and logistics.

Hadas says that adopting new technologies and human-centred design thinking is critical to solve retail packaging challenges, and it is exciting to see how this approach can be applied to societal challenges as well.

“Taking innovative approach to packageless retail, as well as embracing the potential applications of Smartfill across a variety of sectors, has the power to transform our approach to sustainability and efficiency. As we move towards a more circular economy, solutions like Smartfill will be instrumental in paving the way for a more sustainable future.”


News & Updates

Heineken invests US$112M to expand returnable bottle program in South Africa

SOUTH AFRICA – Heineken has committed R2.3 billion (US$119.58M) to its returnable bottle program in South Africa, more than doubling its share of returnable glass beer bottles, in line with its global ambition to achieve a 65 percent returnable glass bottle rate.  

This move aligns with Heineken’s broader goal of achieving net-zero carbon by 2040 as part of its Brew a Better World strategy. 

Recently, Heineken launched the returnable Star bottle, featuring the iconic Heineken star on its body and the Heineken name deeply etched into the glass.  

The company’s investment emphasizes its commitment to sustainability and creating positive changes in the communities where it operates. 

“The Heineken Returnable Star bottle is not just about clearing glass. We should always push ourselves to do more to create sustainable change in the communities where our business operates,” noted Heineken Beverages MD Jordi Borrut. 

As part of its sustainability initiatives, Heineken plans to establish Heineken Green Zones in communities across the country, such as Phillipi in Cape Town and Eldorado Park and Lawley in Johannesburg.  

These zones will feature open parks, meadows, food and flower gardens, and creative arts spaces, fostering sustainability-driven behaviors within communities. 

“This initiative aims to promote sustainability-driven behaviors within communities and provide essential recreational areas that integrate food gardens and inspiring art installations.  

The initiative will be run in partnership with GreenPop, which is a group dedicated to reforestation and urban green zones in sub-Saharan Africa,” Heineken announced. 

In addition to the returnable bottle program and Green Zones, Heineken has invested in a water reclamation facility and a 6.5 MW solar power plant for its Sedibeng brewery, reducing carbon emissions by about 30 percent.  

The company actively participates in various global sustainability initiatives, including the Climate Group’s RE100 program, We Mean Business Coalition, the Race to Zero movement, the Business Ambition for 1.5 °C, and the Climate Pledge. 


News & Updates

South Africa’s Coleus Packaging invests US$2.11M in new metal crown manufacturing line

SOUTH AFRICA – Leading metal crown manufacturer, Coleus Packaging, is set to ramp up production in 2024, with plans to manufacture between seven and eight billion metal crown closures for bottling companies, breweries, and beverage industry players across South Africa and the continent. 

This expansion comes following Coleus Packaging’s investment of R40 million (US$2.11M) in a state-of-the-art metal crown manufacturing machine, the PMC500.  

According to Phillip Sathekge, Managing Director of Nokusa Packaging and a 25 percent shareholder in Coleus Packaging, this new machine is capable of producing 5,000 metal crown caps every minute, marking a substantial enhancement in production capacity. 

Stelios Vitogiannis, Managing Director of Astir Vitogiannis, which holds a 75 percent stake in Coleus, emphasized that this investment aims to upgrade operational capabilities at the Coleus Packaging Alrode factory in Johannesburg.  

With the PMC500, Coleus anticipates increased output, improved efficiency, and consistent product quality while reducing overall energy consumption and carbon emissions. 

Ian Victor, Coleus Packaging’s Managing Director, highlighted the significance of the PMC500 in streamlining operations and reducing costs while maintaining high-quality standards.  

Victor stated, “This new line of machinery will give us 90 percent to 95 percent efficiency. This new machine will manufacture what two machines, in the past, would have manufactured.”

With enhanced production capacity, Coleus Packaging aims to address growing demand in the brewery and beverage industry.  

Victor expressed confidence in the company’s ability to meet industry growth expectations, stating, “The PMC500 machine will help us meet the demands of the local brewery and beverage industry in South Africa, which we expect to grow by between 6 percent and 8 percent in the coming years.”

Looking ahead, Coleus Packaging plans to expand its presence across Africa and solidify its position as a preferred supplier in the metal crown cap manufacturing market.  

Victor believes that the company’s increased production capacity will enable it to serve more African countries and achieve volume-based accomplishments comparable to multinational global companies in the market. 

The investment comes when South Africa’s beverage industry is expected to grow from US$19.01 billion in 2023 to US$24.47 billion by 2028, at a CAGR of 5.19 percent during the forecast period (2023-2028), according to Mordor Intelligence.


News & Updates

How will the EU’s Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation affect the UK?

Despite residing outside of the EU, the UK glass manufacturing industry is facing a range of challenges as the European Union prepares to implement the new Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR). Equally, there are also lots of opportunities, with the introduction of this policy having potential to reduce the environmental impact of packaging materials and promote a more circular economy – in the EU and beyond. 

British Glass is confident that the UK glass manufacturing sector will adapt to whatever changes are needed and continue manufacturing upwards of 8 billion bottles every year, but it is monitoring closely what changes may need to be made. To understand the future role of glass under PPWR, we must first understand what is being proposed and what the potential impacts on packaging could be.

Where are we now?

Amendments to EU PPWR are currently in trilogue, meaning that specific legislative points are yet to be finalised. Whilst exact details are currently unknown, there are some key areas where we can expect significant changes.

Ambitious targets for recycling and reuse of packaging are going to be high on the agenda, as well as the introduction of mandatory extended producer responsibility schemes, potentially creating subsequent increased costs for packaging producers. How these targets are being established is one of the key points of interest for glass packaging manufacturers.

Weighing up the changes

PPWR proposals outline that each EU Member State could be required to reduce its packaging waste per capita by as much as 5% by 2030, 10% by 2035, and 15% by 2040. These targets would be uniform across all Member States, regardless of packaging material.

The impact of these targets is clear – “make less waste so that less has to be dealt with”. But how these percentages are calculated remains a point of contention. This becomes especially apparent when these metrics are mentioned in relation to weight.

Whilst measuring weight provides an easily quantifiable figure, this metric in isolation fails to account for a packaging material’s recyclability, end-of-life impact, or food safety benefits. There is clear potential here for legislation to be interpreted in a way that favours lighter and difficult packaging materials , even if they do not support wider closed loop and re-use ambitions. A potential consequence of this could easily be an incentivisation of more single-use packaging materials that are difficult to recycle.

Thankfully, the solution seems clear; apply material-specific targets to ensure responsibilities to reduce waste are appropriately balanced. British Glass is working closely with its European counterpart, FEVE, to ensure this message is heard as part of trilogue discussions. This is because whilst glass can be heavier than some alternative materials, glass packaging can be a tangible solution to many other problems that PPWR proposals are looking to address.

Drawing the circle

One of the key drivers of PPWR reform is greater encouragement for a more circular economy. Glass is a fantastic material to support these ambitions, as it can be endlessly recycled in a closed loop.

Unlike some other packaging materials, glass is 100% recyclable from product to product, meaning that it can be melted and remoulded into new glass packaging infinitely without ever reducing in quality. No matter how many times glass is recycled, its inert qualities in relation to packaging food and drink items fundamentally cannot be changed.

There is also general support from people to actively recycle where they can, adding more incentive for a wider use of glass. The British public has shown support for recycling glass, with a recent recycle rate of 74% recorded across the UK and with an impressive 92% of glass being captured in the Welsh kerbside recycling system in 2021/22.

The great benefit of capitalising on this support for recycling is a reduced need for raw materials in manufacturing, creating an emissions reduction within the supply chain. Using less raw materials also creates a sizable carbon saving in in the production of new glass packaging when using cullet – waste glass that is processed for use to make new products – in place of virgin materials.

Cullet opportunities 

A higher recycle rate across the EU from PPWR in theory means that more cullet will be collected and processed internationally. For every tonne of recycled glass cullet used to produce new glass bottles and jars, there is approximately a 250kg reduction in CO₂ on site. Alongside supply chain reductions, this can lead to a 580kg reduction of carbon emissions for every tonne of cullet used.

Over the last year, the UK glass industry has been highlighting that a large amount of cullet is currently being exported unnecessarily, when it could be processed and utilised to produce new glass packaging in the UK.

The UK export of glass cullet for making new glass bottles and jars, known as remelt, rose by 79,000 tonnes in 2022, a 31% increase compared to 2021. In total, 335,000 tonnes of cullet were exported during the same period, amounting to 24% of what could be used in the UK. It’s been estimated that this has now led to an increase in site emissions for UK glass manufacturing –of 52,000 tonnes of CO₂, and at an additional £8m energy and carbon cost to the industry.

In response, British Glass is calling upon UK local authorities to consider the destination of collected waste glass to support the UK circular economy and decarbonisation efforts. These same arguments apply to manufacturers in EU states that might potentially have more opportunities to use increased levels of cullet in manufacturing. These efforts could then be supported further due to the increased availability of more recycled materials from effective PPWR being implemented.

Long term solutions

The UK glass industry recognises the importance and benefits of PPWR for advancing the sustainability and circularity of packaging materials in Europe. However, it also urges the EU to consider the specificities and challenges of the glass sector as an energy-intensive industry today. Whilst glass manufacturing does require an input of energy to create products, these processes are decarbonising with advancements in electric hybrid and hydrogen furnace technologies.

There are clearly infrastructure and supply chain challenges to implement fully renewable energy solutions across the entire glass manufacturing sector, but the technology for low-carbon glass production is available. Whilst alternative, non-glass single-use packaging materials might require less energy to produce today, the impact of processing these packaging products responsibly can be challenging and their end-of-life impact is a lot more than glass packaging. As the emissions continue to be reduced in glass manufacturing, glass packaging will be net zero packaging material with no end-of-life impacts on the environment.


News & Updates

Baileys to offer lighter aluminium bottles at international airports

70cl aluminium bottles of Diageo’s Baileys Original Irish Cream liqueur – said to be five times lighter than the glass alternative and facilitate a 44% carbon reduction – will soon be available to international travellers at select airports.

Compared to the 454g weight of the 70cl glass bottle, the aluminium alternative is measured at 85g. Its bottle neck contains a 4g plastic thread and its cap is made of 2.5g of virgin aluminium.

Initially, Diageo Global Travel has partnered with travel retailer Gebr. Heinemann to make the new bottle available through the Heinemann & Me loyalty programme platform. It will then be sold at Amsterdam Schipol and Frankfurt and Copenhagen’s international airports for an initial trial period; and, in May, it will be released across various German domestic retailers for a limited time.

Diageo anticipates that the new packs will be a step forward in its ten-year ESG action plan, ‘Society 2030: Spirit of Progress’. One third of the company’s Scope 3 carbon footprint is currently attributed to packaging, and the aluminium bottle is hoped to alleviate some of the impact.

The March 2024 release also coincides with B Corp Month, falling in line with Baileys’ certification as a B Corp brand since October 2022. This certification commends the brand’s standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency.

“As the largest global spirits brand to join the B Corp movement, we are proud to drive our progress in the community with our latest innovation to deliver positive impact,” says Sarah Blake, global brand director for Baileys. “While this is an important milestone for Baileys, we know that there is more we can do. We are already looking forward to the delivery of more initiatives as we journey towards our 2030 commitments.”

In a related transition, Molton Brown’s Bath & Shower Gel bottle collection has been released in refillable, ‘made-to-last’ aluminium bottles; the move aspires to help consumers shrink their plastic footprints by 63%.

Similarly, Wild’s liquid cosmetics have been made available in a refillable aluminium bottle produced by Morrama. It is designed to shield the bamboo refills inside, protecting them from water and humidity.

Boomerang Water and Ball Corporation’s ‘semi-automated’ bottling system featuring aluminium bottles was also nominated for a Sustainability Award last year in the commercialized Driving the Circular Economy category.


News & Updates

‘First’ fully recyclable paper crisp packet with compostable laminate enters UK market

The British Crisp Co. claims to have released the ‘first’ fully kerbside-recyclable paper crisp packet in the UK, intended to counteract eight billion annual crisp packets ending up in landfill or incineration

Aquapak’s Hydropol polymer – a solution reported to be recyclable, repulpable, compostable in marine environments, and compatible with anaerobic digestion – has been used to laminate the packet. When laminated or extrusion coated onto paper, the polymer is said to add strength and barriers to oxygen, oil, and grease.

If Hydropol ends up in the environment, its reported non-toxic and water-soluble properties are thought to ensure an environmentally safe breakdown, resulting in zero microplastic leakage. Its solubility in water is also expected to unlock 100% paper fibre recovery in paper recycling mills.

A ‘very thin’ layer of vacuum-deposited aluminium is implemented into the crisp packets to keep the product fresh, but it is not thought to impact their recyclability. OPRL has certified the packs as recyclable, meaning they are compatible with consumer kerbside collection streams alongside other paper material.

“Brits consume over eight billion packets of crisps each year, the majority of which are not recyclable and end up in landfill or incinerators – that’s a lot of waste and a huge environmental problem,” said Tom Lock, CEO of British Snack Company. “In partnership with Evopak and using exciting new polymer technology, we have created the first fully recyclable crisp packet – something that consumers have been demanding for a long time.”

Mark Lapping, chief executive officer at Aquapak, continued: “Today’s launch marks a significant milestone for Aquapak and our Hydropol technology, which can be commercialised at scale. This is a huge opportunity for brands and producers who now have a viable, functional and recyclable alternative that enables full fibre recovery in a standard paper recycling process.”

“We have developed a unique paper which has the potential to revolutionise packaging as we know it, thanks to the unique properties of Hydropol,” added Daniel McAlister, director of Business Operations at Evopak. “The paper can be used in a range of applications from snacks and confectionary, to petcare and dry foods and cereals, and costs the same as existing materials.”

Hydropol is thought to match the functionality and performance of conventional plastics while enhancing its recyclability and cutting down on plastic pollution. Its other applications include reusable, heat-sealable paper mailing bags.

Back in 2022, TIPA incorporated Hydropol into its efforts to develop high-barrier, PVDC-free, compostable packaging films – creating new, cost-effective designs that improve both packaging performance and its end-of-life.

Meanwhile, Parkside recently utilized its Park2Nature certified home compostable laminate to provide food and drink brand SMUG with a ‘100% compostable’ crisp packet, apparently biodegrading in domestic compost heaps in under 26 weeks.

Most recently, INEOS Olefins & Polymers EuropePepsiCoAmcor, and others joined forces to package Sunbites crisps in new film packaging containing 50% chemically recycled plastic. It forms part of the PepsiCo Positive (pep+) end-to-end transformation, which aspires to cut all virgin fossil-based plastic in crisp and chip bags from PepsiCo’s European supply chain by 2030.


News & Updates

PET on the road to circularity, but disparities are creating potholes

Plastics Recyclers Europe reports the average EU PET beverage bottles’ recycled content rate reached 24%, but that disparities between EU Member States need addressing to achieve 2025 EU targets.

It says 2022 was an unprecedented year for the PET and rPET value chains, as shown in the latest report: PET Market in Europe: State of Play, by Plastics Recyclers Europe, UNESDA Soft Drinks EuropeNatural Mineral Waters Europe (NMWE), Petcore Europe and ICIS Consulting

Apparently, figures show advancement in the market despite extreme uncertainty. However, the disparities in the collection, sorting and recycling of PET around Europe will need to be addressed to achieve the EU recycling targets in the mid- and long-term. 

Plastics Recyclers Europe says PET collection and recycling accelerated in 2022 ahead of the new EU Single-Use Plastic Directive (SUPD) targets. The collection rate of PET in 2022 was calculated at 60%, showing an increase from the 45% achieved in 2020. Furthermore, the sorted for recycling rate for PET beverage bottles alone was estimated to be 75%, compared to 61% in 2020. 

This collection rate is expected to continue growing due to the wider rollout of deposit-return systems across Europe. In 2022, 12 countries in EU 27+3 were reported to have this collection method operational, while 9 have taken the political decision to install DRS in the near future. 

Almost 2.7 million tonnes of PET waste were sorted for recycling. The total installed recycling capacity was around 3 million tonnes, out of which 1.4 million tonnes were destined for food contact applications. 

Packaging was reportedly the dominant end-use for rPET in 2022, with 48% used in bottles. 25% of rPET was used in sheets (trays), and the remainder was used in non-packaging applications including polyester fibres (15%), strapping (6%) and others (6%). The value chain has also already taken steps towards tray recycling and chemical recycling. 

Plastics Recyclers Europe states that to continue the trend towards true circularity, the disparities between EU Member States in terms of collection, recycling, and uptake will need to be tackled, as it is unlikely for some countries to meet 2025 targets if no further investment is maintained. Therefore, specific actions per Member State need to be addressed to improve the waste collection and recycling infrastructure and take steps to meet the targets. 

It adds that the implementation of the SUPD and further investments in the waste management and recycling sectors will be essential to maintain the competitiveness of the EU’s industry. 

In light of Hungary’s new deposit return scheme, Petainer and Oonly released their first refillable PET bottle for mineral water in January, aiming to drive circularity in the country’s beverage sector. Released ahead of Europe’s 2030 target for reuse, the bottle is hoped to introduce a circular solution for beverage packaging to the Hungarian market. 

In other news, Aldi and Packamama have produced ‘flat’ wine bottles made entirely from recycled PET, said to streamline both transportation and storage and be almost seven times lighter than glass alternatives. For retailers, the design is set to allow 30% more bottles to be loaded onto pallets for transportation. Compared to traditional round bottles, the flat alternatives aim to take 30% of lorries off the road and lead to environmental benefits without reducing the amount of wine in a pack.