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Plastic packaging

Should our focus be on carbon over plastic waste?

Packaging Europe recently published an excellent article, “The carbon crisis: Four big questions for the packaging industry” which got us thinking. We could not agree more with some of the statements brought up and have been inspired to consider these questions as part of our weekly Q&As.  

 

First up: what should our focus be on – carbon emissions or plastic waste? As Wipak’s CO2 expert Dorit Nelke-Bruhn shares, “Our focus should be on reducing Carbon Emissions as this is, in my eyes, the most critical environmental problem today. This of course goes hand in hand with supporting the circular economy by producing recyclable materials and using recycled content.  

  

Most types of plastic are actually recyclable, but many municipal governments do not have the infrastructure in place to carry out this process. While plastic waste is a perceived as major environmental issue, improving recycling capabilities is a priority in the ongoing revision of the Circular Economy Package (CEP) policy – the recycling target is expected to increase to 55% by 2025. As for Carbon Emissions, production processes are a leading cause of emissions, contributing to global warming. Wipak understands that we need to minimize the use of raw materials derived from fossil fuels and are aiming for zero-carbon production. Companies should each be making an effort to help global economies decarbonize and reduce global warming.  

  

The circular economy concept is based on maintaining the value of products, materials, and resources within the economy for as long as possible, consequently minimizing the generation of waste produced. At Wipak, we understand the importance of the efficient use of raw materials – that all the plastic packaging we create serves an important function.  

  

“We should not forget the primary target of packaging material: protection of the product packed. This could save even more avoidable carbon emission by, for example, reducing food loss” states Nelke-Bruhn.  

  

We could make a serious difference by focusing our production efforts on non-fossil-based materials, while keeping the plastics we do produce in the supply chain.   

  

Check out our previous Q&As here: www.wipak.com/blog and be sure to follow us on LinkedIn for more. 

Categories
Plastic packaging

Just one word: Plastics

It’s unfortunate that the word “plastic” has come to be grouped with fossil fuel-derived resins that contribute to pollution. The actual meaning of the word goes way back, before recycling symbols or credit cards. The word “plastic” derives from the Greek verb “plassein,” meaning “to mold or shape” – and that remains its core meaning: to be malleable and flexible. In short: its form can change. 
 
Overall, flexible plastics are lighter and more efficient than many alternatives. Their light-weight reduces their environmental footprint by decreasing waste, energy use, and carbon emissions. They help protect and preserve goods while reducing transportation weight, cost, and fuel, resulting in reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Without plastic packaging many products would not survive the long journey to the shops and to the consumers’ homes. 
 
But this isn’t to support using only plastics or littering the environment. 

On the contrary, at Wipak we are actively supporting circularity, proper recycling, and accurate waste sorting to keep it in the supply chain. But currently, flexible packaging plastic materials are one of our best options to reduce food waste and keep carbon emissions low. 
 
We are also focused on the continuous development of new, sustainable product families made from alternative, non-crude oil materials like cellulose. We are currently transforming our product portfolio to be fully recycle-ready and, wherever possible, based on materials from renewable resources and containing recycled materials. Some of our readily available lines include our NFO ECO* products, which are PA-free and adhesive-free, with high barrier properties and a reduced CO2 footprint. 

Most importantly, we remain focused on preventing material waste. We understand this: plastic should be used as little as possible, but as much as necessary. Interested in our existing solutions? Check out wipak.com/solutions/sustainable-solutions and contact us today! 

*Find out more about how we won Gold in Sustainability at the German Packaging Awards last year with our NFO ECO Green Haven concept: https://lnkd.in/gcVKjki  

Categories
Plastic packaging

In what situation is plastic truly necessary?

Plastic packaging is currently the most reliable, lightweight solution for protecting fragile products and preserving perishable foods. It’s also necessary wherever sterility is required, such as in hospitals and health care environments. In the medical sector, sterile tools and packaging help prevent the transmission of infection from clients via instruments and supplies, keeping both treatment staff and patients healthy.  

Flexible plastic packaging has a great record of reducing food waste with high environmental efficiency. In Europe, 40% of all packaging is flexible – but only corresponds to 10% of packaging waste (FPE). Because food production uses far more resources than the packaging that protects it, lightweight flexible plastic solutions are key to preventing food loss, wastage and contamination. This goes particularly for fresh foods such as meat, sausages, cold cuts, fish and cheese – markets for which Wipak is a major packaging producer. 

At present, alternative packaging like those made from bio-based materials can have a greater overall carbon footprint during its life cycle. While we work towards these solutions being environmentally efficient, Wipak already offers innovative sustainable packaging designed to use less plastic, contain recycled, recyclable or renewable material content – and to never compromise on mechanical properties. We are working with our partners to keep all plastic packaging within the supply chain – and out of the environment – as part of a circular economy.  

Find out more about these solutions here and be sure to check out all of our Q&A posts on the blog. 

Categories
Plastic packaging

Is sustainable packaging always more expensive than regular packaging?

As anyone in the sustainable packaging industry will know, this is one of our biggest challenges. According to Raconteur, 43% of brands have cited cost as one of the greatest obstacles in switching to sustainable packaging. But while these options tend to be more expensive at this moment in time, pricing comes down to supply and demand. 

Plastic is currently a cost-efficient solution because it is so abundant. But if sustainable packaging materials are sought-after and at a higher scale of production, the price will decrease. Research by Trivium Packaging has shown that 74% of consumers across the U.S., Europe and South America would pay more for sustainable packaging – with nearly 1/4 of them willing to pay an increase of 10% or more in cost. In Germany, the price of supermarket cheese would increase by just 2 or 3 cents on average using leading sustainable packaging, in line with what these conscious consumers would pay. 

The key is therefore to invest in sustainable solutions. For businesses, the cost alone does not ultimately define gains and losses — sustainable solutions can benefit companies, their customers and the environment in lasting, tangible ways. 

What’s more, regulations and legislation must be aligned with these same values. We expect regulations to improve and reward sustainability – and for the majority of countries to tax a lack of sustainability in packaging. 

With a collective effort to drive the popularity of sustainable options, there is no reason why sustainable packaging must always be the most expensive packaging.

Check out our current sustainable solutions here and contact us today! 

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