Circular Economy and new Packaging policies

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Experts state that leading economies fully embrace the new Circular Economic Action Plan (CEAP), published on March 30, 2022. This action plan is designed to strengthen the economy, protect the environment and eliminate waste. It acknowledges the importance of enduring materials and the necessity to improve high-quality recycling and back off from landfilling waste. Above all, it intends to develop circularity in all industrial value chains.

Circular Economy and new Packaging policies
Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash

The industry’s main concerns are specifically in the plastics and packaging sectors. Leaders announce new initiatives to promote Circular Economy processes that encourage sustainable consumption, avoid waste, and use resources that last longer and bring real added value.

These initiatives are directed at all single-use packaging and the current linear system. Taxes or incentives will be employed to diminish the production of one-time disposable packaging, a meaningful shift to the packaging industry focusing now on greener substrates and lower carbon production. Redesigning the whole Supply Chain rules require:

·       Quality and convenient packaging to meet consumers’ preferences.

·       Restrictions on some packaging material.

·       Preferable packaging-free when goods can be handled safely.

·       Renewable, recyclable, carbon-neutral packaging.

·       Returnable/re-usable, reducing size.

·       Process optimisation, innovative features, and functionality.

. The simplicity of packaging materials, such as the number of materials and polymers used.

·       Sustainable production flexibility.

·       Waste prevention measures.

Circularity is the new norm. The ocean-waste campaigns and customers’ anti-plastic reactions are complicated, but the coming legislation will be even more severe. A supplier might be forced to sell just re-usable packaging; potentially, the investment per-unit price/margin could be higher. For many businesses, this regulation will be catastrophic; for others, investing deeply in circular solutions anticipates an enormous compensation in years to come -consider that a refill bottle replaces 20 standard bottles.

Authorities must review and reinforce the mandatory requisites for packaging to ensure that all packaging on the market is recyclable and re-usable in an economically sustainable way by 2030 to consider other measures to focus on Reducing, Reusing, Recyclability, No Packaging; the reduction in the number of polymers is now mandatory, not an option, and it is the government’s decision on the standards, not the manufacturer.

Plastics and bioplastic packages (Clause 3.4)—The EU Strategy for Plastics in the Circular Economy is an initiative that addresses severe public concerns. The use of plastics is anticipated to double in the next 20 years. The Commission will take further actions to tackle the sustainability challenges set by these ever-present materials and promote a determined line of attack to tackle global plastics pollution.

Consider Europe, where the standards are packaging-free, refill, waste-reducing nanomaterials and smart technologies, digitalisation, and favour electric vehicles, whilst many packaging layouts in our industries are based on past norms. Every packaging company and brand must establish a circularity team right away, as 2022 is a sign of a new era for us to work firmly into the future.

Sustainability and Circular Economy

Raw materials, food and beverage, apparel, and footwear work with new standards; basically focus is NextGen fibres, recycling, composting, biomaterials, and new material development, to inhibit the growth of bacteria, slow down ripening or taking excessive oxygen out of the package to extend the product shelf life.

This practice depends on different matters and according to each region. Experts state that 30% of the food produced worldwide is never consumed. But in Europe and North America, most food waste occurs at the end of the Supply Chain – in the Warehousing and Logistics operations, the retailer, or at home.

Active packaging solutions prevent food waste. The development of flexible packaging with the features above has been reported in many types of research and development projects at technical institutes and universities, with encouraging outcomes. However, many of these never reach the commercial tier. These researches focus mainly on nanotechnology combined with cellulose or fibres derived from fruit skins to bamboo to produce a naturally-derived material compostable, degradable or even edible, that inhibits bugs.

The NanoPack possibility has a long way to become a fully commercial production. It is an antimicrobial film based on halloysite and essential oils from herbs such as oregano. The final film demonstrates to slow down humus growth in bread by a minimum of three weeks, boosts the saleability of fresh vegetables or fruit, and extends the shelf-life of cheese by at least four extra days.

Nowadays, more cost-effective and environmentally friendly active packaging solutions can take oxygen out to ripening and maintain food or any product in good condition, apparently substantially cost-effective. Yet, we need products and packages like these to save food and protect consumers’ health from damaging contamination. These innovative processes require the authorities’ approval, possible taking 2-3 years.

Labelling packages of food products are essential to cut waste. Also, product labels’ expiration dates with best-before dates are imperative, as consumers easily understand them. However, it is a fact recognised by the industry that they are usually misemployed. The European Commission study mentions that a million tons of food waste produced yearly in the EU is connected to expiration-date marking.

Innovative packaging solutions can be used along the Supply Chain and on-pack/in-store. Food generally has far more environmental impact than the packaging to benefit a company’s economy, which is very important now that we are experiencing food shortages and inflation.

From a sustainable viewpoint and an ROI, the freshness labels, product condition monitors, smart freshness, and time/temperature indicators are accessible, reasonably priced, and scalable for countless applications.

It will mean modifications to some sections of the Supply Chain, mostly stocking and timely delivery, focusing on how the food retailers cope with shelf management for perishable goods. That is about work training and practice, saving money and offering an environmentally responsible solution. It is a collaborative effort from industries, government and organisations, plus constantly revising rules, ensuring that any suggested change encounters consumers’ information needs and does not risk food safety.

CONCLUSIONS: consumers demand reliable, quick delivery in right-sized packaging, easy-to-recycle, and engaging branding that enhances a pleasant experience they can share on social media -experts said that every man, woman, and child in the UK receives 140 parcels a year. It’s no longer enough to offer a great product in the e-Commerce era, but how can shippers address these consumer demands at the lowest possible cost.

How difficult is it for your company to transition from linear to circular? What else can producers do?

Dave Food

M: +44 7775 861863


Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash

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