The Plastic Packaging Tax in the UK (beginning 1st of April 2022) means that every plastic packaging component manufactured or imported into the UK, there will be a tax of £200 per tonne. Therefore, businesses looking to drive sustainability need to start focusing their efforts on improving their packaging and their practices. What can we do to initiate more greener strategies within the packaging supply chain?
Choosing Between Glass and Plastic Packaging
Plastic has a major problem with its reputation. In every sector, the goal to use less plastic is priority number one, which is why glass and other organic solutions are gaining popularity. However, it’s important to look at this in a holistic sense. Glass packaging is considered to be more environmentally friendly because it has less environmental impact per KG. But we have to recognise that the weight of the glass will make a big difference, especially when we are looking at transporting the product. However, if people are looking at working with local companies, glass is the better option.
Glass has a major advantage in terms of recyclability in comparison to plastic. Plastic is still a major on everybody’s minds, as we need to use it less, so if you’re looking to drive sustainability in your brand, glass is an effective packaging material as it can be recycled easier.
Utilising Post-Consumer Recycled Resin (PCR)
Due to innovations in recent years, plastics have the potential to be much more sustainable. Because the end-user can create so much waste by throwing it in the rubbish, this is where PCR plastic has become invaluable. PCR is a material made from recycled plastic, such as water bottles and other packaging. PCR enables providers to make the same packaging products at competitive prices, but with a far less environmental impact. PCR resins can use numerous types of recycled materials and yield a number of benefits, including:
- Drastically reducing your carbon footprints in comparison to traditional plastics.
- Reducing the amount of plastic being sent to landfills.
- Reducing the need to create new plastic from non-renewable products.
- Is beneficial to environmentally conscious clients.
PCR is still in its infancy but this is where businesses can start to lead the way and be accountable in their approach to plastics. Using PCR plastics will reduce CO2 emissions in comparison to standard plastics and as PCR plastics can be recycled again after it has been used, it is a circular material that will drastically drive single-use plastics down. And with no new fossil resources required to produce PCR plastic, this is something we will see a lot more in the coming years.
Making the Most of Local Supply Chains
Local supply chains are more sustainable in a number of different ways. Working with a high functioning supply chain allows a company to mitigate a lot of sustainability risks. However, incorporating sustainability into a supply chain can prove challenging. But there are some initial steps that businesses can take to have a more effective relationship with a supply chain:
- Mapping the supply chain. One of the best initial steps is to identify the most significant environmental challenges the supply chain would have and prioritise making changes. A local supply chain will invariably have less carbon footprint due to the distance suppliers travel, but it’s still vital to work with any supplier effectively.
- Communication. Focusing on sustainability within a supply chain will help everybody to understand best practices going forward. You can establish expectations by just communicating more regularly with your suppliers and see how you can reach common ground.
- Focusing on a mature approach to sustainability. Local supply chains may have their own methods of being sustainable, but we can’t take this at face value. There may be an opportunity to work with a local supplier to integrate more sustainable practices into the procurement process, such as supply chain tracking tools or software to monitor supplier performance. This can have an impact on the overall efficiency of the operation which can enhance the lead time and the quality of the products and practices.
Using More Effective Protective Packaging in the Transportation Process
To ensure that packaging does its job it usually requires sturdy materials. When it comes to transporting delicate goods, it is so important to ensure that the packaging holds up. Using more effective protective packaging will make a big difference to how sustainable you are, including some of the following options:
- Recycled paper and cardboard. In comparison to plastic, paper and cardboard are less harmful materials. Recycled paper and cardboard can be used to manufacture environmentally-friendly packaging options.
- Oxo-biodegradable bubble wrap. Bubble wrap has been very useful to protect fragile items in transit. And while standard bubble wrap could be thrown away, bubble wrap made from alternative materials such as this can be a very effective approach. Oxo-biodegradable plastic can be broken down easily.
- Compostable packaging. Packaging made from compostable material is made from natural and renewable materials like wood pulp and cornstarch and can be put into recycling bins or garden waste, which disintegrates within 90 days.
- Biodegradable foam chips. Also known as packing peanuts, there are a number of alternatives to traditional packing peanuts. Traditional ones are not being used to the same extent they were because of their environmental impact, and upon their disposal in landfills, become major threats to natural ecosystems. Using non-toxic sources like wheat to make biodegradable foam chips offers the same protection as traditional packaging peanuts and dissolves naturally in water.
If you want to drive sustainability within your brand, it’s important to note that packaging is one of the main ways to ensure you are heading in the right direction. Sustainability is the word on everybody’s lips and as packaging is the biggest issue because we constantly throw materials out, there is a lot going to waste. Therefore, if you want to drive sustainability in your brand, it is time to start setting an example by trying some of these approaches to packaging and processes.