The River Keekle restoration project - the largest of its kind in the UK - involves the removal of an environmentally damaging plastic liner from a 2.5km stretch of the Cumbrian river. Nine tonnes of plastic have been removed from a 170-metre trial site in the recently completed first phase of the project and the riverbed restored with stone.
The plastic, which is causing erosion and pollution, was destined for landfill until Plaswood heard about the scheme and stepped in to help.
Plaswood, which manufactures outdoor fencing, furniture and decking using recovered plastic, offered to collect the material from the site to demonstrate how it could be recycled to create useful second-life products.
To mark the achievement, the company has donated a picnic bench made from the collected plastic to the West Cumbria Rivers Trust. The bench now takes pride of place on the riverbank near to where the plastic was recovered.
Katherine Lorek-Wallace, General Manager at Plaswood, said: “We’ve helped to turn a potential environmental problem into a solution by creating second-life Plaswood benches that can be enjoyed by the public for years to come.
“Our work with the West Cumbria Rivers Trust and the Environment Agency is a great example of the circular economy.”
All the plastic removed from the River Keekle was sent to Plaswood’s recycling plant in Dumfries for shredding, cleaning and remanufacture into recycled plastic lumber, from which the company makes its end products. The process diverts waste from landfill and provides a valuable, sustainable and long-lasting alternative to hardwood, that itself can be recycled at the end of its use.
Luke Bryant, Project Manager for West Cumbria Rivers Trust, said: “We’re already seeing massive positive changes in the restored section. There’s natural gravel, cobbles and sediment deposition in places, which is proof that the river is re-naturalising itself now the plastic isn’t in the way.
“We estimate that 100 to 150 tonnes of plastic will be removed this year, leaving the full 2.5km stretch restored, with the potential to become great habitat for fish spawning.”
The project is part of the Environment Agency’s River Restoration Programme in Cumbria – one of the biggest portfolios of river restoration projects in the UK.
Lorek-Wallace added: “Plastic is widely recyclable and it’s essential that we get this message across. The River Keekle project gives us the opportunity to demonstrate the importance and usefulness of plastic recycling - and this is one of the best ways to encourage even more recycling across the country.”
If we at ALPLA were to look back on 2019 and choose a phrase to sum up the year, we can say with relative certainty that it would be ‘circular economy’. International conferences and fairs, customer requests, cooperation with suppliers, new partnerships in recycling, search fields for innovation… The list of activities characterised by the demand for the circular economy is seemingly endless.
The bird’s-eye view
We are happy to say that ALPLA has always sought the best possible solutions for its customers, for example by constantly designing packaging to be as light as possible or forgoing unnecessary additives just for the savings alone. However, that is not enough for us. A holistic view – essentially a bird’s-eye view – of the entire life cycle of a packaging product is needed more than ever. This in turn requires interdisciplinary collaboration by departments such as those for product design or research and development with production and recycling experts as well as our corporate-sustainability specialists.
The circular economy: all wheels in motion
For us, the development of a new packaging solution starts after its use. In other words, the recycling of a beverage or detergent container does not just start at collecting and sorting. The circular economy can only be made a closed loop when the materials used are compatible with the cycle.
Maybe the questions asked by our experts might bring some clarity to these confused starts and finishes: what happens to the packaging once the product is fully consumed? Do consumers know how to dispose of it? Does the packaging system allow a thorough removal of residues? Are there established recycling streams for the materials used? Can common sorting systems recognise the materials without issues? Do caps, labels, adhesives or inks reduce otherwise good recyclability? What barriers are truly necessary and what additives are most suitable for this without lowering the quality of the recycling stream? How should we design the packaging so that a high proportion of recycled material is brought back into the packaging?
And if all that were not complex enough, design for recycling also requires that the packaging’s functionality be guaranteed. After all, we all know that the packaging’s handling, durability, product protection and logistics cannot suffer from the ideal recyclable packaging.
The Clear One
Although the requirements are demanding, design for recycling does not have to be like fitting a round peg in a square hole – and ALPLA has shown this with its innovation, The Clear One. We had to consider the following things when we started development, as my colleague Martin Diem (ISBM Expert) explains: ‘Using this new packaging solution, we want to offer a highly recyclable, attractive alternative to pouches. At the moment, refill containers frequently consist of multilayer films that are considered difficult to recycle. In comparison, PET is a material that is very easy to recycle, which is why The Clear One is made from it.’ The packaging body consists of one layer of PET and the cap of recyclable PP.
The packaging resembles a typical refill container both visually and to the touch. It is transparent, oval-shaped and has a small opening that makes it easy to cleanly refill the product in larger containers. Its weight – at 9.8 grams (including cap) – and 0.1 millimetre thick walls are also extremely minimal. Different caps (threaded and snap-on are resealable, heat-sealed films are suitable for single-use applications) are possible along with various decorations (stickers, sleeves or direct printing). After use, The Clear One can be folded up effortlessly and disposed of with the household recycling (yellow sack or bin).
The benefits of The Clear One at a glance:
- low weight
- PET monomaterial
- 100 per cent recyclable (established recycling flow, reduces CO2 emissions)
- use of recycled material (rPET) possible
- resealable, ideal for refill containers
- various filling volumes can be realised
- easy residue removal, fold-up
- handy stand-up base
As more and more companies pledge towards reduction of plastic waste and move towards 100 percent recyclable packaging, it is an opportune time for MTL to enable brands with packaging solutions made from recycled plastics. MTL already has in-principle arrangement with several Global and domestic FMCG brands for their PCR requirements. In the first phase, MTL will use PCR resins to produce non-food packaging (personal care, home care, lubricants, paints etc.) and secondary packaging for food products. The first of the company’s state-of-the-art recycling plants was inaugurated today in Bidadi Industrial Area, Bangalore. Radha Mohan Gupta, Regional Procurement Director (South Asia), Reckitt Benckiser, lit the ceremonial lamp virtually and Ullas Kamath, Joint Managing Director, Jyothy Labs, cut the ribbon at the venue. The plant has the capacity to process more than 6,000 Metric Tonnes (MT) of rigid plastic virgin-like quality PCR resin per annum. The company intends to set up multiple recycling plants across India over the next 2 years with a total capacity of close to 20,000 MT. Sanjay Kapote, CEO, MTL commented “Sustainability is an integral part of our business goals. Today, brands are eagerly looking for reliable solution providers who can help them with post-consumer recyclable waste material of their products. We are very keen to support the circular economy and strongly see the potential to become one of the few players in the industry to offer brands end-to-end solutions for recycling and EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility). MTL’s recycling plant in Bangalore and our collaboration with SZW is our first step towards bringing more structure to the highly unorganized collection of plastic waste.” The demand for Post-Consumer Recyclables is projected to grow from USD 7.7 billion in 2019 to USD 10.2 billion by 2024. However, the biggest factor hindering the production of PCR at scale in India is the unorganised waste collection and segregation mechanism leading to scrap contamination. For the recycling plant in Bangalore, MTL has partnered with a leading social enterprise, Saahas Zero Waste (SZW) to collect the plastic waste generated across the city. SZW manages 38 tonnes of waste per day across Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Goa.
Today’s manufacturers are challenged to package their products both cheaply and effectively. This is why so many food products now come in hard-to-recycle composite packages. A composite material contains layers of plastics, paper, and metals joined together with resins or wax. Due to the properties of each material, the package is thinner, more cost effective, and more durable than a single-material package.
Huhtamaki is a pioneer in the use of sustainable materials for food packaging products. There is an increased need across the world to reduce the impact on our environment and to develop more sustainable packaging solutions.
“The Future Smart Duo lids are an excellent alternative to plastic lids. They are made from a mixture of bagasse and wood fibers, which are fully renewable resources and offer a sustainable choice for people to enjoy both hot and cold beverages," says Neil Whittall, Specialty Coffee Category Director from Huhtamaki Foodservice Europe-Asia-Oceania business segment.
The lids have a highly functional design for convenient drinking with or without a straw. Huhtamaki will offer three variants of the Future Smart Duo lids; in 63mm, 80mm and 90mm diameter.
“Our portfolio of fiber lids will include a collection of products that we manufacture in our own units in Europe as well as those that we source from trusted manufacturers in Asia. We continue to work on product development and while we prepare to bring more fiber lids to the market, we are delighted to introduce the first products in our portfolio," Neil Whittall from Huhtamaki continues.
Future Smart Duo lids are made from an optimal mixture of wood and bagasse fibers. Bagasse is a sugar production by-product. Because it is a by-product, excess bagasse is frequently discarded. However, these fibers are reclaimed and used to make sustainable packaging products which are excellent alternatives for traditional plastic packaging products. Sugarcane is classified as one of the world’s most rapidly renewable resources.
Bagasse fibers are by nature compostable. The Future Smart Duo lids are in the process of being certified compostable for industrial and/or home composting.
Key features and benefits of the Future Smart Duo Lid
- Suitable for enjoying hot and cold beverages
- Made from renewable plant-based fiber materials
- Plastic free and sustainable alternative to traditional plastic lids
- Highly functional design for convenient drinking with or without a straw
- Optimized lid fit with Huhtamaki paper cups
RecyClass, a cross-industry plastic recycling initiative, has published its Recyclability Evaluation Protocol for PP (polypropylene) in guidance for carrying out laboratory analysis of the various design features of rigid packaging made from PP resin. The organisation explained that the ultimate objective is to establish the level of compatibility of a given product with the PP recycling stream. “Recycling of PP containers remains unexploited, advancing its recyclability adds to increasing the potential of this stream and is a long-awaited step that shall be valued if we are to reach the recycling targets,” said Werner Kruschitz, Chairman of the RecyClass PP Technical Committee. The aim of the Protocol is to guarantee recyclability of PP containers as well as to support innovation in the PP market. It provides a detailed laboratory procedure on how to perform pre-treatment, extrusion, and conversion tests. RecyClass said that the tests in turn will demonstrate whether the technology or product submitted for approval will have a negative impact on the recycling process. This Protocol does not include guidance on the sortability tests of a component. “It is an important development which is paving the way towards circularity of PP packaging. It provides brand owners and packaging producers with a laboratory procedure that measures recyclability of their technologies and shows the main points for improvement,” commented Nico Van de Walle, Product & Circular Economy Manager at Verstraete IML (Multi-color Corporation) and RecyClass PP Technical Committee Representative. With the goal of providing a structured and scientifically based framework for the evaluation of plastic packaging innovation, RecyClass said that it will continue its work on developing guiding documents for other type of packaging.
Launched last year, ReSource aims to help accelerate large-scale plastic commitments by organizations. By 2030, Resource has a target to prevent at least 50 million metric tons of plastic waste from entering nature. ReSource welcomed Amcor to the organization alongside Colgate-Palmolive and Kimberly-Clark.
“Amcor is leading the way on packaging innovation, but new products and technologies alone won’t be enough to meet our sustainability ambitions and to solve the global waste issue. Keeping waste out of the environment will require not only the right package design but also efficient collection and waste management along with active consumer participation,” said Amcor CEO Ron Delia.
“Global challenges are best addressed together, and we are proud to work with Resource: Plastic and the world’s largest brands to better protect the environment,” Mr. Delia said.
Amcor is dedicating unprecedented resources to solving the issue of more sustainable design and is bringing innovative products to market.
Additionally, the company collaborates with industry partners, governments, and non-governmental organizations to improve collection, recycling, and recovery of plastic packaging and develop new approaches to advance a circular economy and better protect the environment.
Amcor has global partnerships with Ocean Conservancy and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative, where experts led the development of a global design-for-recyclability standard for high-barrier flexible packaging.
Amcor is making progress towards its commitment to develop all its packaging to be recyclable or reusable by 2025, significantly increase use of recycled materials, and drive greater recycling of packaging around the world.
“This new resin is helping to make a circular economy for plastics a reality, all without compromising on the performance that brand owners and consumers require,” said Bambang Candra, Asia Pacific commercial vice president, Dow. “As a material science company, we have the responsibility to bring these products to market to prevent plastics from becoming waste in the environment.” The growing demand for e-commerce will require durable, efficient packaging that can protect products throughout their supply chains while producing minimal waste for consumers. Dow’s new formulated PCR resin can provide brands and consumers with comparable performance to collation shrink film made with virgin resins to ensure products are delivered safely while also reducing the amount of plastic waste ending up in our environment. The resin is designed to be used as 100 percent of the core layer of collation shrink applications and will enable the development of film with 13 – 24 percent recycled content. The new formulated PCR resin also reduces carbon dioxide and energy footprints helping converters, brand owners and retailers meet their sustainability goals, while also giving a new end-of-life to plastics that otherwise would have become waste. “Developing new end markets for plastic waste will help incentivize collection and recycling, enabling more recycled products to be developed while reducing the amount of plastics entering our environment,” said Suny Markose, Asia Pacific commercial recycling director for Dow.
With growing exhibitor and visitor numbers year on year, PackEx India has established itself as the most valuable platform for packaging materials & machinery suppliers and packaging users. In the current market scenario where in ‘New Product Innovations – New Packaging Solutions’ is the success factor, emphasis on packaging has reached a new level. PackEx India brings together the best in packaging material and machinery, thus making it the most attractive platform for the packaging development professionals and decision makers from across the industry sectors in the Indian sub-continent.
Mohawk Fine Papers, Inc. and UPM Raflatac have started a strategic partnership to offer sustainable roll-fed pressure sensitive labeling solutions made with Mohawk Renewal Hemp and Straw paper face stocks in the Americas. Mohawk Fine Papers, Inc., North America's largest privately owned manufacturer of fine papers, envelopes, and specialty materials for printing, recently unveiled a groundbreaking portfolio of papers made from rapidly renewable, sustainable fibers.
- INDUSTRY UPDATES
- OUR PRODUCTS
- Our Partners