Need to ease recycling process of plastic pouches

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Global Data, a leading analytics and data company says that after disposable coffee cups and plastic bottles, pouches could be the next target in the waste reduction landscape, due to the difficulty of recycling these packs. Pouches have come into the spotlight recently as a result of confusion over the use of the Green Dot symbol on pouch packs. The green dot signifies that the supplier has made a financial contribution towards recycling them. However, many consumers believe it means that these packs can be recycled in household recycling systems. But, the pouches disposed are sent for incineration or landfill.

Valerie Lincoln-Stubbs, research director at GlobalData commented, “Growing awareness on this issue is likely to turn consumers off this packaging format, particularly in the baby food sector, where pouches have transformed the market over the last 10 years. In 2016 they accounted for the largest segment of total baby meal sales in the UK at 43% and in the US at 32%. Parents are generally more environmentally concerned than many other consumer groups and may reject packaging that has the potential to outlast their children.’’

However, pouches do have some environmental advantages. They use fewer natural resources than many other pack types – both in raw materials and in the production process – while their light weight means transportation produces lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Moreover, plastic pouches can be recycled and systems to do this do exist. One such example is the Hain Celestial subsidiary, Ella’s Kitchen, which joined forces with specialist recycler TerraCycle to establish the EllaCycle system. Pouches can be left with participating charities or individuals who can then send them to TerraCycle.

‘‘This system does require a degree of effort and organization by consumers which results in low recovery rates, and this in itself makes the recycling process more costly and less attractive to recyclers,” Stubbs continued.

It will require a concerted effort from food and beverage manufacturers, packaging suppliers, recycling companies and local governments to pool their resources to make the recycling of pouches easier, so that it becomes routine; just as the recycling of glass jars has become. Without this action, the future of the pouch format could be a bleak one,” Stubbs concluded.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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– Naresh Khanna

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