The report, funded by the Rethink Plastic Alliance and Break Free from Plastic movement, details how charging companies differentiated fees according to the environmental sustainability of their products could incentivize producers to stimulate a more circular economy.
“Redesigning products and packaging addresses the issue of waste at the most upstream source and places responsibility there,” explains Blaine Camilleri, policy officer at the European Environmental Bureau on behalf of the Rethink Plastic alliance.
The eco-modulation of EPR fees is “an effective way” of incentivizing the redesign of products by making them more sustainable and circular, and shifting the focus of waste prevention to the design phase, he details.
“EPR fees should reflect the true environmental costs of products and serve as a price signal for consumers to opt for sustainability when making their consumption choices.”
The importance of eco-modulation
Modulating fees for different packaging materials depending on sustainability criteria such as recyclability is already practiced in various EPR schemes around Europe. For example, infinitely recyclable materials like glass have lower fees than harder to recycle materials like flexible plastics.
However, in current EPR systems, most eco-modulation criteria, such as sortability, recyclability, market demand of secondary raw material, are primarily focused on improving the recycling of packaging and not on generating less waste in the first place.
Since packaging is not a durable product and typically turns to waste after one use only, product lifetime-related criteria, such as durability, do not play a significant role in fee modulation unless there is an increased focus on reusable packaging.
The report argues that reusability can play an essential role in reducing waste; however, most EPR schemes currently promote recycling and end up inadvertently discouraging reuse as a more expensive alternative.
Innova Market Insights has highlighted the importance of reusability as a criteria of waste reduction, marking the “Reusable Revolution” a top packaging trend for 2021.
The market analyst notes the majority of global consumers (52%) believe reusable packaging is the most sustainable model, followed by recyclable (50%) and recycled (39%), biodegradable (31%) and compostabl
Besides these issues, EU member states also face a range of implementation and enforcement challenges that further complicate the use of EPR systems for waste prevention.
These challenges include:
1) Lack of uniform modulation criteria and fees across member states, which “creates complications within the domestic market and weakens the effort for EPR to achieve the desired results.”
2) Limited availability of data on the real costs of end-of-life (EoL) treatment as well as product specifications, which is needed to estimate EPR fees and eco-modulation.
3) Governance challenges: free riding, reporting and enforcement challenges leading to distortion of EPR internal market by making it difficult for uniform and widespread adoption among producers.
4) In competitive EPR scheme
an increase in EPR fees could create a competitive disadvantage for certain PROs. Certain Producer Responsibility Organizations (PROs) would be impacted more than the others depending on the product portfolio.
Addressing the issues
The report suggests supplementing the EU’s current recycling targets with reuse targets, which would provide a regulatory basis for stakeholders involved in an EPR system to develop reuse systems.
This would require expanding the scope of cost coverage and “necessary costs” to include costs required to build a value chain for reusable packaging. To meet the new cost coverage to achieve reuse targets, EPR fees would have to be increased, which in turn would increase the revenue generated.
However, care should be taken while increasing EPR fees. Following the principle of waste hierarchy and eco-modulation, EPR fees should be increased for single-use packaging, it suggests.
Conversely, reusable packaging should be incentivized through lower or no fees for producers to shift from single-use packaging to reusable packaging.
“The increase in revenue generated will further need to be utilized to develop the logistical infrastructure required to ensure the reusable packaging reaches back to the producers for reuse. This would need sound governance, more data and increased transparency, which a centralized online public register can meet,” concludes the report.
Using advanced recycling technologies, the site will have the capacity to recycle any plastic used in Sweden using entirely renewable energy, making the country’s plastic economy completely circular.
Located in the city of Molata, construction is expected to conclude in 2023. It will expand an existing facility, which the company says is already the “most efficient on earth.”
“We are doubling our capacity and will be able to handle 200,000 tons of plastic packaging per year. This creates the conditions needed for receiving and eventually recycling all plastic packaging from Swedish households,” says Mattias Philipsson, CEO of Swedish Plastic Recycling.
“The investment creates the prerequisites needed for making Sweden a world leader in plastic recycling. Being able to do it together with our producer customers and owners, who consist of large parts of the Swedish business community, is very inspiring.”
Tackling all plastic types
Currently, the facility recycles four types of plastic; once construction is complete, it will have sorting capacity for 12 types: polypropylene (PP), HDPE, LDPE, PET tray, PET bottles (colored and transparent), PP film, EPS, PS, PVC, two grades of Polyolefin mix, metal and non-plastic waste.
Any small parts of plastic that remain after the sorting process will be separated and sent to chemical recycling or become new composite products. Zero packaging will go into incineration.
“There is today no other facility in the world that has that capability,” asserts Phillipson.
“We are also preparing for washing and granulation of the plastic in phase two, which is planned for 2025. Then our entire plastic flow in Sweden can become circular.”
Any materials or rare types of plastic that are unable to be recycled at the facility will be sent to a Carbon Capture Storage, which prevents carbon emissions produced during incineration from entering the atmosphere. There are further plans to run the facility using solar panels.
Advances in advanced recycling
PackagingInsights recently sat down with Susan Hansen, global strategist for F&A supply chains at Rabobank, to discuss recent developments in advanced or chemical recycling technologies and what they could hold for the future of plastic waste management.
She explained that Rabobank has seen a “huge amount of activity” in advanced recycling since 2019. According to the bank’s estimates, there were around 70 plants installed worldwide in 2020, with approximately 1.1 million tons of capacity.
However, Hansen emphasized that chemical recycling should not be seen as a “silver bullet” to the limitations of mechanical methods.
Even if all the global advanced recycling projects recorded are actually completed, there would be a doubling in the number of plants and around three or four times the capacity there is today. However, this would only mean 140 plants on earth, which would be a maximum of about four million tons of capacity.
The UN estimates roughly 300 million tons of plastic waste is produced each year globally.
FACHPACK 2021: Greiner Packaging to showcase innovative and sustainable packaging concepts for the future
Alternative and recycled materials, barrier technologies, innovative solutions for the POS, and the circular economy itself will be the focus of Greiner Packaging’s appearance at FachPack this year. The packaging experts will be exhibiting in Nuremberg, Germany from September 28 to 30, giving prospective and existing customers an exciting look at current developments, trends, and innovations.
The Freedonia Group finds that, apples and berries will remain the best opportunities for fresh fruit packaging suppliers through 2024, together accounting for 51% of demand:
“Sustainability has remained a priority in the packaging industry throughout 2020, even as demand for packaging safety has grown during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Brad Hansen, president of Presto’s Specialty Products businesses. “This year at PACK EXPO Connects, we will demonstrate the importance of both safety and sustainability in packaging while sharing products and programs that brands can use to enhance their current green initiatives.”
The Fresh-Lock team will feature closures from its expanded Fresh-Lock 8000 series. The 8000 series was developed to provide brands with a line of sustainable closures for flexible packaging. New product highlights from the 8000 series include Fresh-Lock Zipper Top, Fresh-Lock child-resistant zipper, and Fresh-Lock Triple-Lock zipper. These closures offer recyclability and enhanced package reclosability ideal for the meat, pharmaceutical, lawn and garden, and pet industries respectively.
In addition to the 8000 series expansion, the Fresh-Lock team has developed new closures that will advance the brand’s presence in the meat and produce markets. Fresh-Lock style 345 is a thermoform zipper engineered for processed and sliced meat packs; its design helps to prevent leakage once the package is opened and resealed. Fresh-Lock style 375 string zipper has high package-side holding strength and low consumer-side holding strength that allows for usage across many applications.
On Monday, Nov. 9, at 1 p.m. CST, Todd Meussling, Fresh-Lock senior manager, market development, will present “Packaging as an Ally: Sustainable Considerations In The Evolving Normal.” This Innovation Stage seminar will discuss the shifting perceptions of plastic, the importance of plastic management and education in sustainability initiatives.
The Fresh-Lock team will utilize the brand’s first-ever virtual market at PACK EXPO Connects. Guests of the virtual market will be greeted by avatars of Fresh-Lock experts, including Brad Hansen. Access to the market will begin at the start of PACK EXPO Connects through guided tours.
For additional information about Fresh-Lock closure solutions and initiatives, visit PACK EXPO Connects. To request an innovation kit or schedule a tour of the Fresh-Lock virtual market
The new segment is designed to help specifiers, converters, compounders and buyers search, filter, collaborate, request samples and quotes, and purchase everything from raw materials to compounded products in one place.
Knowde’s plastics for packaging segment offers an array of vinyl polymers, polyolefins, polyamides, styrenics, polyesters and copolyesters, pigments and colorants from hundreds of producers.
“From protecting the food that we eat to creating tamper-proof safeguards for medical and pharmaceutical applications, plastic packaging materials play a vital role in the production of the bottles, bags, shrink wrap, stretch film, blister packs and clamshells that consumers use every
day,” says Dan Haas, chief commercial officer at Knowde. “Plastic packaging is often considered to be the most recyclable, sustainable alternative among packaging material options.”
Knowde’s search capabilities enable users to explore materials by chemistry, application, function, technical properties and more. Additionally, KnowdeConcierge is designed to provide access to expert advice and insight on all manufacturer, brand and product pages, and ensures prompt replies to inquiries. Signup is free for R&D and procurement professionals.
For plastics packaging materials producers, a Knowde says its storefront offers everything they need to move online quickly and meet the new needs of customers who want a better online buying experience. Knowde offers providers targeted digital marketing tools to build storefront traffic and analytics to support data-driven decision making.
The initial trials carried out in Switzerland demonstrate that Greiner Packaging is already capable of producing yogurt cups from 100 percent recycled material. Basically, it’s the most eco-friendly and sustainable solution imaginable.
According to data by the National Restaurant Association of India, both social distancing and food safety concerns have heavily impacted food businesses leading to more than 40% closures in the past fiscal.
Covid-19 has brought noticeable changes in the consumption pattern as well. For instance, instead of visiting a restaurant or a food court, people are more comfortable ordering a takeaway or food delivery service, citing health and hygiene reasons.
Hence, to stay in business, restaurants and snack outlets are meeting consumer demands by investing in food delivery. They are either collaborating with third-party food delivery service providers or initiating their very own service, getting the food to one’s doorstep.
Along with food delivery, businesses are enhancing their packaging practices to ensure food safety and hygiene, shifting mostly to disposable packaging. But are these new changes in alignment with eco-friendly practices? That’s where the concern lies.
Increase in use of plastic for food packaging
There is no denying that the food packaging industry has experienced exceptional growth throughout 2020, and trends continue in 2021. All the leading packaging manufacturers reported up to a 70% jump in the productions of packaging materials.
While that translates well for the food and packaging industry, it has raised new concerns regarding environmental degradation. Why? It is because most of the packaging materials used are single-use plastic, which is adding to the non-biodegradable waste especially in the urban areas.
Why are businesses using plastic and not a greener alternative?
Disposable plastic containers and food packaging are cheaper, easily available, leak-proof and help the food vendor or restaurant abide by the hygiene regulations. Since plastic containers give the impression of sealed and safe food, it fits the consumer satisfaction as well. Nevertheless, it has dealt a severe blow to the government’s efforts to curb the use of plastics.
Is there a way out of this new plastic packaging crisis?
Let’s face it; Covid-19 is here to stay. Even with vaccination, businesses and consumers would have to abide by the safety protocols to prevent transmission of the virus. So, restaurants and eateries will have to intensify their delivery efforts in the coming days, as physical outlets are yet to open up with full occupancy for the consumers. Businesses need to rethink the use of plastic for packaging and opt for a greener alternative with minimal environmental impact.
Here are a few options to try:
Recycled or Agro Based paper is the cheapest alternative to plastic packaging. One can use quality paper packaging for snacks and food items (leak-proof consistency).
Kraft paper is a viable alternative to plastic since it is both oil and waterproof. It addresses your leaking issues.
Another option here is using quality containers to deliver the food. The customer would receive the food and return the container for reuse. It would curb the use of disposable food containers.
What food businesses and restaurants can do is collaborate with paper packaging manufacturers to come up with, economic and eco-friendly solutions to the plastic packaging problem.
Mitigating the initial impact of the pandemic followed by the gradual shift to new business practices has been tough on business across all sectors. The transition commenced in haste to extenuate the immediate crisis. Now, as we ease into new-normal, it’s time to correct the errors committed and innovate sustainable practices towards a safer future.
Silver plastics, one of the leading German manufacturers of plastic packaging in the food industry, is now deploying a new solution to connect its machines. The connectivity solution is designed to improve the visibility and use of production data.
Publication 'Transition Time! A circular economy for plastics'
In the publication 'Transition Time! A circular economy for plastics' gives the coalition insight into the plastic challenges, shares innovative cases and provides specific recommendations to stimulate joint action. This publication was presented on January 13 by Jan Peter Balkenende, chairman of the DSGC, to the Dutch cabinet and Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President European Commission & European Green Deal. “A transition of this magnitude requires shared values and the willingness of various partners to create a responsible society in which plastic - which is now too often regarded as waste - is a source,” says Jan Peter Balkenende.
The benefits of the transition are enormous. In a circular economy, the amount of plastic in the environment will radically decrease. At the same time, energy and water consumption will decrease significantly, as will CO2 emissions. New technologies can be scaled up to innovative applications to ensure that plastic retains its value as a secondary raw material.
Frans Timmermans agreed while receiving the publication that the plastic issue must be tackled together. “This publication is urgently needed: we want to significantly reduce the amount of plastics and plastics that are incinerated in the EU and bridge the price difference between new plastics and recycled plastics. We will focus on this when revising various guidelines. ”
Collaboration between governments, knowledge institutions, civil society organizations and the business community is crucial in order to jointly close the chain. DSGC members describe innovative cases from their own practice, in which they show how they contribute concretely to closing the plastic chain together with stakeholders. The shared knowledge & experience can be a source of inspiration for other companies to also invest in a circular economy. For initiatives to develop into impactful sustainable solutions, both harmonized policy and effective legal frameworks are of great importance, for which the DSGC shares specific recommendations.
Value chain stages
The publication covers all stages of the value chain:
Promoting Principles of Circular Design : Ensuring that plastic can become a new secondary raw material.
Conscious Customer & Consumer Use : Ensuring that plastic is preserved within the economy
Championing Collection Infrastructure : Establishing effective and harmonized collection systems
Sustainable Production & Innovate Recycling : Scaling up renewable raw materials and advanced recycling
Collectively Closing the Loop : Creating impact through international collaboration across the entire value chain