Climate change is the most significant environmental issue of our time, so it should come as no surprise that World Recycling Day – which happens this week on 18 March – is a bigger deal than ever before.
Now in its third year, the event (founded by the Global Recycling Foundation) was created to raise awareness about the global issue of recycling, and encourages people to change their perspective.
Recycling is a key part of the circular economy, and its growing importance was confirmed by the government last week when Chancellor Rishi Sunak shared his budget and it included a plastic tax for manufacturers.
From April 2020 there will be a plastic tax on packaging, with a charge of £200 per tonne. This tax applies to all packaging with less than 30% recycled content.
With this in mind, we decided to share some of the ways Manufacturers on Erudus are looking to make their businesses and packaging more environmentally friendly. Here’s what they had to say…
“We’ve reduced our plastic down to the minimal amount. We use paper, cardboard, glass and metal caps – plastic is something we’re trying to completely remove. It’s an ongoing project, and people don’t always have the same objectives that we have, but we can’t avoid that at this stage. We are working with a company at the moment to have a trace system, and remove and reduce our use of plastic to almost nothing.”
“Our toothbrushes last for exactly the same time as a normal toothbrush, but they can go in the garden compost when finished with. It takes just 6 months for them to break down in the compost as opposed to plastic toothbrushes which can take more than 400 years to break up into tiny pieces (and will never fully disappear).
The supermarkets could really inspire people – if they made a change to packaging everyone else would be able to make the change [too]. When people know it’s the right thing to do, but they go to the supermarket and they’re faced with a sea of plastic, it can actually be really hard for them to do anything differently. When they see our stall at the Christmas fair, people are happy to see we don’t use plastic and they want to be a part of that.”
Georgie Porgie’s Puddings
“We’re a cloth wrapped pudding so we’re minimal packaging anyway. But I think it’s important that every business tries to be [green], so we don’t bubble wrap our orders anymore – we use cardboard boxes and tissue for dispatch. We also use DPD, who have a 0 carbon footprint, for sending out all our mail orders. We’ve looked everywhere to see where we could cut down and make small changes in all the different areas. Still I think you have to be realistic, you have to do it over time.
Lately I’ve been debating between paper and plastic bags – normally we’d have see-through plastic bags, and use paper bags in summer but the paper bags are twice the size and twice the weight of the plastic bags, which makes them heavier to transport. So are they necessarily better?
I think we need to be pushing hard on recycling, and it’s important that we recycle really efficiently. Every business has to do the best it can, but it’s also important that these alternative ways of working are genuinely better for the environment.”
Real Good Ketchup
“It’s very difficult for recycling plants to pick coloured plastic off the belt as its going through, so we don’t use coloured plastics in any of our products. Only clear and white. And we don’t produce sachets, which sadly end their life in landfill because they’re not recyclable. Our squeezy [container] is 100% recyclable, and it’s made from a plastic that goes back into industrial use. Our pouch is not recyclable at the moment, because of the adhesive, but we expect that to change this year and ultimately for that to be fully recyclable as well.”
Beau’s Ice Cream
“In our packaging we [only] use virgin cellulose and compostable polymers taken from FSC standard forests. Our tubs are compostable and the lids are recyclable, which is quite far ahead for the standard in the ice cream world at the moment. If you pick up a tub of ice cream in the supermarket, most will have the green dot, and that simply means the company has made a financial contribution to recycling in Europe – there’s still a long way to go. It took us a long time to find something that was even close to being compostable and recyclable. Fortunately we did, and though it does cost more to invest in, it felt important for us to do that.”
“VBites has compostable packaging, but the supermarkets won’t pay for it. So [the best thing to do is] run a line of compostable packaging but also run a line of recyclable plastic packaging.
The technology for compostable packaging is there and it is available, but it means that a lot of machinery will become defunct – if you are a multi-million pound plant and you suddenly want to become environmental, really want to become environmental and compostable then you’ve essentially got to start from scratch. The supermarkets need to acknowledge that consumers might happily pay 5p more per packet in order for that to happen, they might split the difference with the supermarket. But [ultimately] somebody has to cover the cost, the 13p more per packet plus the million pounds more for new machinery.”