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Who’s responsible for making plastic packaging more recyclable?

In the ongoing discussion about whether manufacturers, material recovery facilities (MRFs) or recyclers should be responsible for the sustainability of plastic packaging, the answer still seems to be all of the above.

MRFs have always had to keep up with an evolving waste stream by adapting to the various shapes and sizes of consumer packaging that end up on their tipping floors. When it comes to plastic packaging — some of which has become lighter and more complex — players from all sides of the supply chain have their own ideas about how to best manage it. The work of reconciling these opinions, while keeping consumer communication as simple as possible, looks to be even more visible in the year ahead.

“We continue to see more and more products in the marketplace that in fact are difficult, if not impossible, to recycle so they become a contaminant in the recycling stream,” said Steve Alexander, executive director of the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR).

APR doesn’t believe that brands intentionally design products with inherent recycling challenges, but says it still happens too often. Alexander said that by releasing an updated design guide last year, APR hopes to become more involved in the “embryonic” stage rather than having to find solutions after the fact. He compared retrofitting a package to renovating a house rather than building features in from the start — unintended consequences are sure to come up along the way.

One of the more common examples of this type of retrofitting is what has happened with full bottle or shrink sleeve labels. The labels had been sinking in the plastic recycling process and in many cases this was creating sediment and contaminating material during washing.

Research and engineering company Plastics Forming Enterprise consults with APR, brands and recyclers to sort out the finer details of their packaging challenges through testing. Kristina Hansen, their technical director, has worked on a wide range of adhesives, labels, additives and fillers, and the factors involved in these areas vary. Many of them come back to the need for a cleaner material stream to ensure that recyclers can offer a better product and manufacturers can have higher percentages of post-consumer recycled (PCR) content in their packaging.

 

Full article: http://www.wastedive.com/news/whos-responsible-for-making-plastic-packaging-more-recyclable/433851/

Source: Waste Dive

Consumer options exist for difficult-to-recycle plastics

Americans generate more than 33 million tons of plastic annually. A recent report by the EPA places the plastics recovery rate at 9%. Why does so little plastic find its way back into the system?

A cause of low plastics collection and capture is consumer confusion. The SPI’s Resin Identification Code was introduced in 1988 for recycling centers to help with sorting plastic waste. Used to identify the plastic resin in an item, the RIC uses symbols that look a lot like the universal recycling symbol, confusing many people to think it’s recyclable, which is often not the case.

Types of plastic accepted at most recycling programs vary greatly and the instructions delineating what is and is not recyclable are often inconsistent. For example, the term “plastic bottle” refers to an item that is understood to be recyclable. In terms of accepted waste, food and beverage plastics, such as soda bottles, are different than household plastics, like cleaning sprays and their trigger heads.

Program language when referring to recyclables (polymers, specifically) can lead well-intentioned people who recycle to place unaccepted plastic waste into the recycling bin—and this causes problems on all fronts. Complicating this issue further for both the consumer and the collection facility are products and packaging comprised of mixed plastic resins and other materials

To read the full article, click here: http://www.packagingdigest.com/sustainable-packaging/consumer-options-exist-for-difficult-to-recycle-plastics-2016-07-21

Source: Packaging Digest

Plastic Packaging Better for Environment than Alternatives Made with Other Materials

A recent life cycle assessment analyzed the energy and climate benefits of alternative plastic materials in contrast to plastic material. The categories included caps and closures, beverage containers, other rigid containers carrier bags, stretch/shrink wrap, and other flexible packaging materials. Carol Hochu, President and CEO of the Canadian Plastic Industry Association noted, “Plastic packaging enables the safe and efficient delivery of various products which form part of our daily lives, everything from food to essential health and safety aids. However, many are unaware that plastics carry out these functions while at the same time conserving energy and lowering greenhouse gas emissions.”

 

In Canada, the LCA found that replacing all plastic packaging the non-plastic packaging would:

 

  1. Require nearly 4.4 times as much packaging material by weight. Increasing by nearly 5.5 million tons.
  2. This would also increase energy use by 2.0 times. This was calculated as being equivalent to the amount of oil transported by 18 supertankers
  3. This would result in 2.3 times more global warming potential. This was equated to adding 3.3 million more cars to the road.

 

Engineering in plastic packaging enables innovation and performance – the ability to extend the shelf life of foods and medicines. Plastic packaging viewed from the entire life cycle have more benefits than the snapshot that has been taken in years.

 

The afterlife of plastic is further contributing to sustainability in many ways. The ability to recycle, reuse and repurpose for energy value and converted to liquid oil, electricity and into other fuels.

 

There have been great strides made in the reusability and repurposing of plastic containers. These valuable resources are used to make fleece jackets, new plastic bottles, pipes, pallets, creates and buckets, decking and other lawn and garden products. The majority of product stemming from recycled plastic bottles, non-bottle rigid plastics such as deli and dairy containers, bakery, vegetable, fruit containers, and plastic film, bags and outer wrap.

 

Plastic enhances our lifestyles, our economy, and the environment.

 

Source: Canadian Plastics Industry Association

Study finds more plastic packaging could mean less waste

Europe is facing a food waste issue. According to a European Commissioned study, in 2012 more than 100 million metric tons of food was wasted in the EU. Due to the results, the Commission released a policy paper to all EU members to develop a plan to prevent food waste. While plastic manufacturers and their customers in the EU are under constant pressure to reduce the volume of plastic used, plastic may be the answer to reducing the amount of food waste. A study conducted shows that plastic prevents damage and contamination to foods; providing a barrier against moisture and oxygen this translates into a longer shelf life. The study was authored by Harald Pilz, who suggests that packaging technologies are in continuous development to better optimize barrier layers and puncture resistance.

 

Included in the study were six test foods: sirloin steak, Austria’s Bergbaron cheese, a yeast bun, garden lettuce, a cucumber and chicken. These foods were enclosed in the usual packaging. The study compared the rates of spoiling with these foods when using new plastic packaging. Though the new packaging used more plastic, it reduced the occurrence of food waste by fifty percent.

 

To read the entire article, please visit http://www.plasticsnews.com/article/20151005/NEWS/310069999/more-plastic-packaging-can-mean-less-waste-say-experts

 

Source: Plastics News

Plastic packaging gaining momentum in Mexico

Smithers Pira is forecasting Mexico to have the highest percentage of plastic packaging growth in North America. The gain on average is expected to be 3.1% every year until 2017. The increased demand for plastics in Mexico is driven mainly by the food and beverage markets. The health and beauty and chemical industries are also seeing growth in plastic packaging.

It is anticipated Mexico’s flexible packaging market will grow at an average of 8.7% a year, reaching a value of $3.13 billion in 2018. According to Smithers Pira, flexible plastic packaging is expected to continue to gain popularity, experiencing the highest growth 
rate across all the packaging segments.

More consumer packaged goods companies are investing in Mexico due to the country’s growing middle class and to take advantage of low-cost labor. Mexican manufacturers are the second largest importers of U.S. packaging and processing machinery, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Quarterly Import/Export Statistics for Sept. 2013.

“Mexico’s middle class is expanding,” said Enrique Guzman, director of the Latin America office of PMMI, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies. “And
 its economy is forecast to grow 
at 3.4% this year, making it the fastest-growing among the largest economies in North and South America,” according to show organizers. Expo Pack México is part of the Pack Expo family of trade shows.

Source: Plastics Today

To read more click here: http://www.plasticstoday.com/articles/Plastic-packaging-gaining-momentum-in-Mexico-141216

3 Trends That Will Define Sustainable Packaging in 2015

According to a report by U.S.-based market intelligence company Transparency Market Research, the green packaging market is expected to surpass US $178 billion by 2018.

Trend 1: Plant-based Plastics – Moving Beyond Petroleum-Derived Plastics
Plant-based plastics, or bioplastics, are poised to play a greater role in packaging and will play an even greater role in shaping consumer attitudes towards brands. Companies such as Coca-Cola are plunging deep in the bioplastics domain. According Coca-Cola‘s website, as of June 2014, over 25 billion of its PlantBottle™ packages are in the market in about 40 countries. Coca-Cola claims this has translated into 525,000 barrels of oil being saved. Initiatives such as Coca-Cola‘s will be gaining attention in 2015; companies need to take awareness of this trend aimed at reducing dependence on plastics derived from fossil-based resources.

Trend 2: Lean is Mean – Put Your Packaging on a Diet
The big brands have already set goals to reduce packaging at the source;  2015 will be the year the mid-size and small brands will feel the pressure to also reduce packaging at the source. The approach brands will need to take is: decrease the size of packaging, make it lighter, and use fewer materials. Phasing out heavier materials like glass and switching over to other environmentally-friendly rigid packaging alternatives will be the focus.

Trend 3: Recycled Packaging – It’s About Making the Best of Waste
Every day, millions of tons of waste is generated in the process of manufacturing and transporting packaging materials. What this means for brands, is that consumers are likely already aware of these environmental issues through the media. They want to know where a brand’s packaging material has been sourced from, what materials have been used for packaging, or whether the packaging can be recycled.

Source:  Business 2 Community
To read the entire article click here: http://www.business2community.com/sustainability/3-trends-will-define-sustainable-packaging-2015-01098694

Top five packaging trends for 2015

The five trends that will impact packaging and associated industries in 2015 are: the growing importance of sustainability; the demand for supply chain transparency; the rise of new barrier/coating packaging technologies; the continued emphasis on lightweight packaging; and the importance of delivering frustration-free packaging.

The growing importance of sustainability

Because sustainable packaging is now prompting consumers purchasing preferences, sustainable packaging has significant environmental and business implications for companies. Businesses should be proactive in implementing procedures that advance a product’s packaging sustainability; if not, they risk the possibility of losing customers to competitor brands that are prioritizing sustainability in their packaging.

The demand for supply chain transparency
Supply chain transparency is an important area companies must focus on to avoid potentially costly environmental and legal infractions that could damage a company’s reputation and overall relationships with consumers. Businesses should address how they are implementing supply chain traceability in terms of sourcing, manufacturing, transport and end of life cycle.

The rise of new barrier/coating technologies
According to a Smithers Pira report, paper and corrugate are going to see tremendous growth in the next several years. The focus will be on developing new barrier technologies that are renewably sourced, readily recyclable and/or biodegradable.

Source: Greener Packaging

To read the entire article, click here: http://www.greenerpackage.com/source_reduction/top_five_packaging_trends_2015

The How2Recycle Label: Coming to a package near you

With the help of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, GreenBlue has finally created a recycling label that the average consumer will be able to understand. The How2Recycle Label is a straightforward approach to responsible recycling and one that is poised to become a fixture in the plastics packaging world. The program employed a soft launch with brands such as Seventh Generation and Target but also decided to conduct a webinar in order to familiarize consumers with basic features and the program’s importance.

Anne Bedarf, senior manager at GreenBlue, explained that the labels are based on the On-Pack Recycling system, the same program used in the United Kingdom. Companies have the ability to customize each component of their packages using the four available options: Widely Recycled, Limited Recycling/Check Locally, Not Yet Recycled or Store Drop-off. Bedarf added that the How2Recycle Label program does not aim to replace the existing RIC (Resin Identification Code) system but rather, be compatible with it.

GreenBlue has estimated that the How2Recycle Label has been used on more than 100 million packages and is expected to take on several new clients within the near future.

To read more, click on the link below:

http://www.plasticstoday.com/articles/the-how2recycle-label%3A-coming-soon-to-a-package-near-you-140603

Source: Plastics Today

North America flexible packaging market estimated to outgrow Europe

The North American and European flexible packaging markets at US $20.7 billion and US $16.4 billion, together account for approaching half of the global consumer flexible packaging market of around $76 billion in 2013. However, recent research by PCI shows that growth in North America at around 4% p.a. by value is currently twice as fast as that experienced in the last year in Europe.

Experts at PCI Films Consulting believe that this situation is likely to endure even while the annual spend per capita is much higher in North America, than in Europe. While demand in Eastern Europe continues to grow by over 5% p.a. in value terms, underpinned by strong growth in Russia and Poland, growth in the more mature Western Europe is currently running at less than 1.5% p.a.

There are a number of reasons for the divergent growth prospects for North America and Europe:

  • While some West European countries are seeing some economic growth, especially Germany and the UK, many other economies, especially in the Eurozone are still suffering low or negative growth which is adversely impacting on employment and consumer spending.
  • In Eastern Europe, which currently accounts for less than 20% of Europe’s overall flexible packaging demand, a number of smaller national markets are either static or actually declining as they continue to face difficult economic problems. Per capita spend on flexible packaging in Eastern Europe is currently less than one-third of Western Europe’s.
  • Europe’s population growth rate of only 0.2% p.a. compares with approaching 1% p.a. in North America, which provides the latter with a continuing inbuilt boost to food consumption which is again reflected in demand for flexible packaging. Populations in a number of large European countries, especially Germany and Russia are declining.
  • Lifestyle variations and differing consumer buying habits across Europe mean that some countries, such as Italy, spend less per capita on pre-packaged foods than Germany and the UK for example. In North America, especially in the US and Canada, incomes are generally higher than in Europe and consumer buying habits are more uniform.
  • More rapid growth in flexible packaging in North America also reflects the fact that flexible packaging formats, including the stand-up-pouch, are growing rapidly in new applications which have been previously the preserve of rigid formats. In the past North American consumers have been more conservative with regard to the adoption of new flexible packaging formats than their European counterparts and packers have often been reluctant to replace existing rigid filling capacity with new flexible packaging alternatives. However, this is now changing, as consumers recognize the lightweight portability and convenience particularly of single serve flexible formats with easy-open reclose features and also the environmental advantages of flexibles.
  • Evolving technical advances especially in the development of sophisticated barrier materials have seen flexible packaging becoming an increasingly attractive and viable alternative to rigid formats, which are now being adopted much more widely by North American packers.

http://www.plasticstoday.com/articles/North-America-flexible-packaging-market-estimated-to-outgrow-Europe-05082014

Source: Plastics Today

Food Manufacturers Rethink Flexible Packaging

Processors are rethinking and improving existing products and make new ones possible thanks to advances in pouch packaging. Flexible packaging suppliers focus on the sustainable end of life scenarios for pouch packaging, bags and film wrappers due to the plethora of green benefits. Unfortunately one area where most flexible packaging is not green is recyclability.  The flexible packaging industry is working on a solution for this problem. One solution is the recyclable 100% polyethylene stand up pouch developed by Dow Chemical. Recyclable pouches can be recycled through bag and film recycling programs. These recycle programs require the end user to bring the clean, empty packaging back to a retail store.

To read more click on the link below.

http://www.foodprocessing.com/articles/2014/food-manufacturers-rethink-flexible-packaging/?show=all

Source: Food Processing