Pesky polymers - a review: Packaging Innovations 2018

Sustainable plastics – the words on everyone’s lips right now!

The English word "plastic" or "plastics" originated from the Greek word "plastikos," which means to "grow" or "form” and true to its name, whether you’re an avid recycler or not, these chains of pesky polymers have been the growing hot topic in the media and the world of retail over the last couple of years.

Since the 1950s, humans have created over 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastics, most of which now resides in landfills or the sea, damaging our ecosystems and health across the world. Back in 2016, Dame Ellen MacArthur claimed that if we continue at this rate, by 2050 there could potentially be more plastic than fish in the sea.

The big plastic debate 2018

This was echoed throughout the Packaging Innovations 2018 event in London this week, and the phrase ‘sustainable plastics’ was never far from anyone’s lips, showing that it continues to be the focal point of the packaging industry today.

National brands, retailers, manufacturers and packaging designers all appear to be striving for the balance of practical yet profitable with the ever-increasing demand from consumers for more eco-friendly, green packaging.

From the now legendary Blue Planet documentaries to pretty much all governing bodies across the world, it’s a topic that is constantly being discussed and yet it still seems like we have a long way to go in terms of a verdict being made about the best solution.

During ‘The Big Plastics Debate’ on day one and two of the event, the focus was on driving the reduction of plastic waste across the globe.

Day one kicked off the discussions with the FPA executive director, Martin Kersh, who was joined by Packaging News editor Philip Chadwick to examine whether the debate over packaging’s sustainability has brought the industry into more meaningful contact with government.

We looked back at the major breakthroughs in 2018 and how the industry reacted to the mounting public pressure on plastics. Philip and Martin then went on to discuss how the debate has helped open doors into Westminster. RT HON Lord Deben, Environment Secretary and current Chairman of the UK's independent Committee on Climate Change, then discussed the Government’s role and likely course of action.

All discussions were fascinating and reconfirmed the great strides we’re making to rectify the damage caused by the ignorance to the planet we call home and the products we mass produce.

Will 2018 be the year we beat plastic waste?

From all the discussions I heard throughout the day, I think not!

It feels like it’s still a bit too early to make this call, but the crackdown on plastic waste does look set to be one of the highlights of the retail industry in 2018. With large retailers such as Iceland, Morrisons, Asda, Waitrose etc. pledging to reduce or replace plastic packaging, particularly within their own brand products, plastic pollution continues to hit the manufacturers and the general public’s conscious in a big way.

Tags: Product development, Product insights, Sustainability, Packaging innovation

Team S4RB

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