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Packaging affects the entire supply chain

Packaging affects the entire supply chain

Transitioning to greater sustainability must be done with careful consideration

Packaging affects the entire supply chain, starting with the material producer to the converter, to the brand owner and retailer, to the waste and recycling organisations. And then back to the material supplier again.

Given the intricate complexities and the often-changing tide of public opinion, the challenge for packaging manufacturers starts with determining which new material is best to invest in.

“Some companies are nervous about committing to buying a new material or to invest in developing a new piece of packaging when they don’t know how successful it is going to be,” says Tracy Sutton, circular economy packaging design consultant at Root.

Previously, says Barrington Pamplin, a packaging technologist for 30 years and technical director at consultancy ThePackHub, there was a push for light-weighting materials, so packagers swapped glass bottles for plastic ones. Now plastic is on the blacklist.

“Packagers have to react to pressure from the media and lobby groups, but many elements of sustainability, such as recycling, are out of their control,” says Mr Pamplin.

So-called sustainable and recyclable materials, such as biodegradable and bioderived plastics, which packagers may look to transition to, away from fossil fuel-based ones, are not in fact widely recycled, but instead collected as general waste.

“It should be laid out clearly what materials can be recycled and what cannot to reduce investment risk,” says Mr Pamplin.

Transitioning to greater sustainability must be done with careful consideration

Packaging affects the entire supply chain, starting with the material producer to the converter, to the brand owner and retailer, to the waste and recycling organisations. And then back to the material supplier again.

Given the intricate complexities and the often-changing tide of public opinion, the challenge for packaging manufacturers starts with determining which new material is best to invest in.

“Some companies are nervous about committing to buying a new material or to invest in developing a new piece of packaging when they don’t know how successful it is going to be,” says Tracy Sutton, circular economy packaging design consultant at Root.

Previously, says Barrington Pamplin, a packaging technologist for 30 years and technical director at consultancy ThePackHub, there was a push for light-weighting materials, so packagers swapped glass bottles for plastic ones. Now plastic is on the blacklist.

“Packagers have to react to pressure from the media and lobby groups, but many elements of sustainability, such as recycling, are out of their control,” says Mr Pamplin.

So-called sustainable and recyclable materials, such as biodegradable and bioderived plastics, which packagers may look to transition to, away from fossil fuel-based ones, are not in fact widely recycled, but instead collected as general waste.

“It should be laid out clearly what materials can be recycled and what cannot to reduce investment risk,” says Mr Pamplin.


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