Future of Packaging 2020

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F U T U R E O F P A C K A G I N G 06 Not tr ue, says Professor Edward Kosior, of sustainable perfor- mance consultancy Nex tek. "Glass containers are not a lways more sustainable than plastic since they're heavier to trans- por t and are not a lways recycled back into glass products, even af ter they're collected; a lot of glass ends up as hardcore under our roads." "Glass is always more sustainable than plastic" Andrew Capper, of brand and pack- aging design agency Echo, agrees. He worked on the launch of a new yoghurt that used a "sustainable" glass jar as part of the premium positioning of the brand. "But a glass yoghurt jar is only sustainable if it's recycled by the consumer," he says. "Conversely, the much-maligned plastic yoghurt pot, in its third or fourth iteration, does the job much better." From demonising materials like plastic and aluminium foil to keeping packaging to a minimum, these common assumptions might not be as green as they seem Busting seven packaging myths 1 4 This is a common misconception because some biodegradable mate- rials require industrial conditions to break down, otherwise they could per- sist for years, Kosior explains. Only truly compostable materials will break down at ambient conditions, he adds, and even then that could take up to six months. Some plastics are misleadingly labelled degradable, says Kosior, but are actually oxo-degradable and require the use of chemical additives. This creates microplas- tics, which then pollute the envi- ronment. "Unfortunately, many 'degradable' plastic bags are sold by manufacturers that exploit this mis- conception," he says. "Biodegradable means compostable" "Single-use plastics can be more sus- tainable than many other options depending on the selected mate- rial, how it's used and the end-of-life destination," says Kosior at Nextek. For example, he says, a plastic bag has a lower carbon footprint than a canvas bag, which would need to be used more than 300 times before it had a comparable impact. Avoiding plastic can also be a false economy, says John Garner, head of business development at Antalis Packaging. "It's more sustainable to pack something well, in plastic, once, than it is to pack something "Plastic is always the least sustainable option" Mark Hillsdon 2 3 M Y T H S While it's easy to make plastic a black- and-white issue, says Erik Lindroth, sustainability director at Tetra Pak, the challenge is not replacing plastic altogether. "Rather, it's reducing the amount of plastic we use and chang- ing the types we're using," he says. "Environmental change means focusing on longer-term, sustain- able solutions; the large-scale uti- lisation of plant-based materials is critical for this." The new Tetra Rex plant-based carton, for instance, is made from paperboard and plastic derived from sugarcane. "All plastic is oil based" From the layers of polystyrene that entomb a new fridge, to the plas- tic film that covers a mobile phone, packaging can be a source of intense irritation. But according to James O'Neill, principal consultant at pro- curement consultancy Proxima, well-designed packaging fulfils an important function. Before the coronavirus, there was a push by supermarkets to do away with packaged fruit and vegeta- bles. But wrapping fresh produce in plastic film has its benefits. Take the humble cucumber: estimates suggest that a plastic wrapper can extend its shelf life from just three days to fourteen. This helps reduce After plastic, aluminium has always been the bĂȘte noire of packaging, from Nespresso coffee pods to foil takeaway trays. But now the lightweight metal is fighting back. Aluminium has always been hailed as infinitely recyclable, with almost 75 per cent of all alumin - ium ever produced still in circulation, but manufacturing it is hugely energy intensive. Low-carbon aluminium could be about to change that. "Most packaging is needless" "Food without packaging is always better" "All aluminium is bad" "Packaging can help maximise loads on logistics vehicles and reduce fuel miles, as well as protecting products," he says. "In a project with a major brewing organisation, we worked with their glass bottle supplier to re-engi- neer the packaging solution and ena- bled them to fit an extra layer of bottles on the truck. A little extra cardboard meant that we were able to take 20 per cent of the fleet off the road, reducing carbon fuel emissions." food spoilage and waste, which has an even bigger footprint than sin- gle-use film. "When you buy a product, it's most important to consume the contents, which have the larg- est environmental footprint," says Markus Mannström, execu- tive vice president at Stora Enso. "Packaging represents only a small part of the entire environmental footprint of a product." "New generation aluminium cre- ated with clean energy is a green game-changer, an essential building block of a sustainable future," says Lord (Greg) Barker, former UK energy and climate minister, and now exec- utive chairman of metals and energy company the En+ Group. "Old alu- minium created with coal-fired elec- tricity has no future, but when man- ufactured with green power it is a super-weapon in the fight against climate change." 5 6 7 Room 76 via Shutterstock Stefan Cristian Cioata via Getty Images Sally Anscombe via Getty Images Natalia Dolgosheeva via Shutterstock Natalia Dolgosheeva via Shutterstock j.chizhe via Shutterstock in a seemingly 'greener' packaging that fails to provide adequate pro- tection," he says. "This can result in products being returned, creat- ing more transit miles in the supply chain, and therefore more CO 2 and environmental impact." dcurzon via Shutterstock

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