The Plastics Debate
Pressure from consumers is always a good thing…isn’t it? Ultimately these are the people that purchase our products so we must listen to them, understand their concerns and provide solutions.
The current issues on waste and the intense media focus on the environmental harm plastic is doing to our planet is both understandable and alarming. Understandable because no one wants to see the harrowing scenes shown on Blue Planet of the widespread pollution caused by plastic across the globe, and alarming because of the furore and negative attention all plastic has received as a result. As a nation, we seem to have conveniently overlooked the many benefits plastic packaging brings to our daily lives and, perhaps more importantly, failed to appreciate the measures that manufacturers such as ourselves undertake to make plastic packaging more environmentally efficient - for example the fast-growing chilled food-to-go sector, which predominately uses rPET (recycled plastic) that contains at least 50% post-consumer waste.
We shouldn’t fall into the trap of generalising plastic as one product as there are many different types with a multitude of uses. Plastic has a strong environmental profile. It is probably one of the best man-made and widely used materials on the planet, being lightweight, durable, hygienic and recyclable, it presents food products in a very clean, fresh and visible manner. Contrary to popular belief, plastic is not a major drain on our natural resources - only 4% of global oil production is used for plastics and it is estimated that packaging accounts for only 1.5% of oil and gas use*. (*Source: BPF)
In the UK, plastic recycling has been improving year-on-year. Many local authorities now collect plastic bottles at the kerbside, with several also collecting plastic pots and tubs, generating more post-consumer recycled waste as a result - plastic drinks bottles are a great example of closed-loop recycling in practice.
The successful management of plastics ultimately boils down to all of us ensuring we are controlling our waste streams efficiently by making our collection infrastructure fit for purpose and by recycling more. It is the responsibility of the plastics industry, retailers and government to make sure the public fully understands what plastics are recyclable and where they can be recycled.
In playing our part, KPL will:
- Continue to make all of its plastic food containers from at least 50% post-consumer waste with efforts to add more wherever we can.
- Work with its customers on reducing the amount of plastics used in packaging (lightweighting) through creative and intelligent design.
- Make sure we do what we can to educate consumers on what type of plastic packaging they are buying and where it can be recycled.
- Research new materials that could aid recycling and reduce the amount of plastic waste currently generated.
- Continue to recycle as much of our in-house waste as possible, thereby ensuring we are building the most effective and efficient business we can.