Other Packaging News
Looking for news with a more in-depth look at each packaging manufacturing sector? Check out our series of packaging articles.
MPs call for deposit return scheme for plastic bottles
A UK-wide deposit return scheme for plastic bottles and a requirement for all public premises to provide free drinking water are amongst the recommendations of an influential group of MPs in a bid to reduce plastic waste.
The Environmental Audit Committee has also called for more water fountains in parks and public spaces and for government to shift the financial burden of packaging waste from the taxpayer to packaging producers.
The cross-party group of MPs, who monitor government performance on a range of environmental issues, has demanded that the government takes action now to stem the rising tide of plastic waste in the ocean.
700,000 plastic bottles are currently littered in UK every day, whilst 8-12 million tonnes of plastic are thrown into the world's oceans each year - something that UN Oceans Chief Lisa Svensson describes as a 'planetary crisis'.
"Urgent action is needed to protect our environment from the devastating effects of marine plastic pollution, said Mary Creagh MP, Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee.
"Our throwaway society uses 13 billion plastic bottles each year, around half of which are not recycled. Plastic bottles make up a third of all plastic pollution in the sea, and are a growing litter problem on UK beaches. We need action at individual, council, regional and national levels to turn back the plastic tide."
In a bid to reduce plastic bottle waste, the committee has called on the government to:
- Introduce a deposit return scheme for plastic drinks bottles
- Introduce a requirement for all public premises that serve food and drink to provide free drinking water
- Increase the number of public water fountains
- Make producers financially responsible for the plastic packaging they produce and to phase in a mandated 50% recycled plastic content in plastic bottles, to be achieved by 2023 at the latest.
The committee hopes the introduction of a deposit return scheme will do for plastic bottle waste what the recent carrier bag tax did for polythene bag waste, by shifting public perceptions and behaviour when it comes to plastic packaging.
With UK recycling rates for plastic bottles having stalled in the past five years, the committee aims to boost rates to 90% through the introduction of the scheme, which would capture bottles before they are thrown in the bin and sent to landfill.
"Around 700,000 plastic bottles are littered in the UK every day," added Creagh. "The introduction of a small charge to encourage the return of plastic bottles will result in less littering, more recycling and reduction in the impact of plastic packaging on our natural environment."
With the consumption of bottled water and soft drinks on the increase, the committee has called on government to legislate so that any public premise who serves food or drink is required to provide free drinking water on request, whilst they urged government to drastically increase the number of public water fountains so that people are not so reliant on bottled water.
Whilst licensed premises are currently required to provide free drinking water to customers, Creagh argued that it was "unacceptable" that unlicensed premises - including sports and leisure centres - are not legally obliged to do the same.
"The UK has safe, clean tap water and failing to provide it leads to unnecessary use of plastic water bottles which clog up our rivers and seas," said the MP for Wakefield.
The committee also called for a shift in the financial responsibility for dealing with packaging waste towards packaging producers, who currently pay just 10% of disposal and recycling costs, with taxpayers left to foot the bill for the remaining 90%.
They have called on the government to introduce a compliance fee structure that rewards design for recyclability and raises charges on packaging that is difficult to recycle.
In a bid to stimulate the recycled plastics market, the committee has also urged government to phase in legislation so that, by 2023 at the latest, all plastic bottles are made from a minimum of 50% recycled plastic content.
"Packaging producers don't currently have to bear the full financial burden of recycling their packaging," said Creagh.
"By reforming producer responsibility charges, the government can ensure that producers and retailers will have financial incentives to design packaging that is easily recyclable, or face higher compliance costs."
It's Christmas! Get your last-minute festive packaging now!
Round-up of the top Christmas packaging deals
- UK & Europe - Polybags has promotional mailing bags & carrier bags plus some festive special offers
- North America - Christmas offers from Bags & Bows and Canadian Tire Corp
- Australia - Christmas bags & wrapping from PaperPak
It's almost here folks - the most wonderful time of the year!
Yes, Christmas is very nearly upon us and so, just like Santa and his army of elves, retailers all over the world are right in the throes of their busiest period of the year.
Wherever you are in the world - whether getting wintry in the UK or enjoying the sun down under - quality seasonal Christmas packaging is a must for retailers everywhere during the busy festive period.
No doubt you've sorted your personalised, printed festive packaging well in advance but thankfully there's still time to ensure you're topped up with all the seasonal packaging you need and to fix any last-minute emergencies!
In the United States, packaging wholesaler Bags & Bows are offering up to 35% off a fantastic selection of Christmas gift bags that customers will love, whilst mega-retailer Canadian Tire Corporation has a great selection of Christmas gift bags and boxes to choose from.
Retailers in both Australia and New Zealand can add some holiday cheer to their packaging with PaperPak's famous festive range of wrapping, tissue and bags, featuring Christmas trees, reindeer, sweet candy canes and other festive treats!
Closer to home, Polybags - the UK's leading polythene manufacturer - have a fantastic set of festive special offers to get you in the Yuletide spirit, including 20% off gift carrier bags and 20% off mail sacks - ideal for eBay traders and online retailers.
With over 100 million polythene bags in stock, Polybags have an unrivalled selection of polythene packaging to meet any retailer's needs this Christmas. From crystal clear retail display bags to festive red and white carrier bags - including those all-important jumbo carriers at this time of year - Polybags have got your packaging needs covered this Christmas.
But time is of the essence. Santa almost has his sacks filled and sleigh polished, so don't delay - sort your Christmas packaging today! And if you want a special festive treat direct from Santa's homeland, why not pick yourself up an Arctic Doll - made from recycled polythene in Lapland itself.
Product images courtesy of BagsandBowsOnline.com and Polybags.co.uk.
"A second life for single-use plastic" - first 100% PCR plastic packaging produced
A British company has produced what it claims to be the world's first 100 percent post-consumer-recycled (PCR) plastic packaging.
London-based manufacturer Delphis Eco will launch their new range of eco-cleaning products in bottles made entirely from PCR plastic during Recycle Week, which runs from 25-29 September.
The company partnered with specialist producers to blow the unique food-grade quality bottles from recycled HDPE plastic granules, which were gathered by some of the UK's leading waste collectors.
Delphis Eco hope the long-awaited breakthrough will signal the onset of a new era in how waste is recycled and reused and have challenged the international manufacturing community to follow their lead.
"Our breakthrough is showing the world that there can be a second life for single-use plastic," said CEO Mark Jankovich.
"The fantastic benefits are an immediate reduction in what goes into the ocean, landfill or is burnt. If we, as a relatively small player, can bring this 100% PCR packaging to the UK market, why can't the big players?
"Just imagine if the large, international brands followed suit. Waste plastic is a huge issue and we are still only scratching the surface at finding a solution of how to get rid of it."
A breakthrough in plastic recycling would not only reduce the amount of plastic waste entering landfill and polluting oceans and waterways, but would also help to dramatically reduce CO² emissions.
According to the government agency WRAP (Waste Resources Action Programme), recycling one tonne of plastic soft drink bottles saves around 1.5 tonnes of CO².
Delphis Eco, who hold two Royal Warrants for their eco-cleaning products, expect their switch to 100% PCR to save 440 tonnes of carbon a year.
The company hope their pioneering new packaging, which creates the UK's first 100% closed-loop supply chain for plastic bottles, will encourage larger companies to work with customers and stakeholders to create a circular economy, whilst empowering customers across the country who want to help create a more sustainable world.
"Right now - big corporates and government are behind the curve," added Jankovich.
"The issue needs to be embedded high on their agendas to realise that consumers want recycled or up-cycled plastics and to drive, through legislation if necessary, a shift in the manufacturing approach to ensure a closed-loop supply cycle."
"It is estimated that over eight million tonnes of plastic is dumped into the ocean each year - a dump truck's worth per minute. The problem is mounting and collectively, we have to take responsibility."
Plastic-eating worms could help fight waste challenge
Scientists have stumbled upon a potential breakthrough in the fight against plastic bag waste, by accidentally discovering that waxworms eat and break down polythene.
The common waxworm (Galleria mellonella) is capable of biodegrading polyethylene, which is used to make a huge range of plastic packaging - including shopping bags and food packaging - and can take between 100 and 400 years to fully decompose.
Spanish researcher Federica Bertocchini, who is also an amateur beekeeper, made the discovery when clearing out an infestation of the worms before leaving them in a plastic bag, only to find that the creatures ate their way out.
"I went back to the room where I had left the worms and I found that they were everywhere," said Bertocchini, a research scientist at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC).
"They had escaped from the bag even though it had been closed and when I checked, I saw that the bag was full of holes. There was only one explanation: the worms had made the holes and had escaped. This project began there and then."
The CSIC scientist teamed up with researchers from Cambridge University to conduct further tests on the waxworm's ability to biodegrade polythene, as reported in the journal Current Biology.
When placed on a layer of polyethylene film similar to that used in making supermarket plastic bags, 100 of the worms ingested 92 mg of the material in 12 hours, with holes beginning to appear after just 40 minutes.
To ensure that the worms weren't simply chewing the plastic into smaller pieces, some worms were mashed up and smeared onto the polyethylene, which was found to reduce in mass by 13% over 14 hours compared to untreated polyethylene. Stetroscopic analysis also found that the chemical bonds in the polythene were being broken down.
Every year, approximately 80 million tonnes of polyethylene is produced globally. The substance is exceptionally strong and difficult to degrade. Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) bags can take around 100 years to decompose completely, whilst the toughest, most resistant bags can take up to 400 years to break down.
The discovery of a naturally-occurring way to increase the speed of breaking down polythene, combined with a method of applying this on an industrial scale, would be the holy grail in solving the problem.
The common waxworm may yet hold the solution and the researchers believe that the similar composition of beeswax to that of polyethylene may explain why the worm has developed a way of disposing of the substance.
"We still don't know the details of how this biodegradation occurs, but there is a possibility that an enzyme is responsible, said Bertocchini.
"The next step is to detect, isolate, and produce this enzyme in vitro on an industrial scale. In this way, we can begin to successfully eliminate this highly resistant material."
Image courtesy of CSIC Communications Department.
Polymer breakthrough could revolutionise plastic recycling
American scientists have made a breakthrough that could revolutionise the plastic packaging industry, by combining previously incompatible plastics for the first time.
Polyethylene (PE) and isotactic polypropylene (iPP) currently account for two-thirds of the world's plastic waste but, because of their different chemical structures, they cannot be recycled together to make new products, thus creating huge waste management issues.
Both polymers are tough on their own but when simply blended together the resulting material is brittle and cannot be used. Technology to meld the two substances has always proved elusive to scientists, but now researchers at Cornell University and the University of Minnesota may have found the solution.
They have developed a new tetrablock (four-block) polymer - designed with alternating PE and iPP segments - that, when added to a mix of the two plastics, effectively glues them together, creating a new and mechanically tough polymer.
The breakthrough research was published in the journal Science on 23 February in a paper entitled 'Combining polyethylene and polypropylene: Enhanced performance with PE/iPP multiblock polymers'.
The research team welded together two thin film strips of plastic - one PE and one iPP - using miniscule amounts of different multi-block polymers as adhesives, which were then pulled apart.
Welds made with diblock (two-block) polymers failed but their tetrablock polymer formed such a strong weld that the plastic strips themselves broke whilst the weld stayed intact.
The breakthrough could spawn a whole new class of tough polymer blends whilst potentially revolutionising the plastics recycling industry, something that excites Geoffrey Coates, Tisch University Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Cornell University and a member of the research team.
"The overall goal was to try to find a way to make a better material from the world's number one and number two polymers, and also help recycling of these polymers that are two-thirds of our waste stream," said Coates.
"If you could make the properties better, so that you use less of them, or if could find a way to more efficiently recycle these polymers, we would have a huge impact on sustainability in a way that we don't currently have by making a new polymer.
"The dream is could you take all the world's polyethylene and polypropylene and just throw it together and melt it down and get a material that has good properties, or maybe even better than one of the materials alone.
"The big advantage of that would be, say we could make a milk jug where we use five percent less polymer because the properties are better, think of the world's savings on all that plastic."
Polybags take step into the blue with new winter catalogue
The UK's number one polythene packaging manufacturer, Polybags Ltd, have surprised the packaging world with a brand new catalogue in a new winter colour.
Renowned for their bold magenta branding, Polybags have taken an unexpected step by releasing their new winter catalogue in a seasonal blue.
You can browse the full catalogue online at Polybags.co.uk and, if you'd like to see the new winter blue design in all its glory, simply order a catalogue online and the friendly Polybags team will pop one in the post.
With over 100 million bags in stock, the new catalogue features Polybags' full range of autumn/winter stock to keep you going through the coldest months of the year. But don't worry, their marketing team assure us that their traditional magenta will return along with the warmer weather!
Featuring a dozen easy-to-browse categories from packing bags to waste sacks, the new winter catalogue covers every product in Polybags' expanding range, including a host of new products such as wicketed food bags and resealable stand-up pouches - the ideal packaging for a range of food products.
With free samples available to try before you buy, a bespoke printed service on most products, along with free delivery to mainland UK and their famous no-quibbles guarantee, it's easy to see why Polybags have been leading the way in UK packaging for over 55 years.
So take a step into the blue a get yourself a copy of the Polybags winter catalogue today.
Scientists discover plastic-eating bacteria
The way we deal with plastic waste could be revolutionised after the discovery of a new bacteria that 'eats' one of the most common forms of plastic.
A team of scientists in Japan discovered that the new species of bacteria, known as Ideonella sakaiensis 201-F6, could break down polyethylene terephthalate - or PET - which is used to make millions of plastic bottles a year.
Shosuke Yoshida and his colleagues from Keio University and the Kyoto Institute of Technology analysed debris from outside a plastic recycling facility and found the bacteria could use PET as its main energy and carbon source.
When grown on PET, the bacterium used two distinct enzymes that reacted with water to break down the plastic into two environmentally-benign substances: terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol.
The ability to degrade PET through enzymes had previously been thought to be limited to a few species of fungus, but the new bacteria was found to completely degrade a thin layer of PET after just six weeks.
The discovery, reported in the journal Science, could be a revolutionary breakthrough for the packaging industry if the process can be sped up significantly.
Researchers have already sequenced the bacteria's genome in a bid to build stronger and faster strains. The packaging and recycling communities await the results with interest.
Christmas gifts for polythene packaging shoppers
Christmas isn't just a good time for online retailers because of bumper sales (see 'Record Christmas deliveries' article, below) but also because it's a great time to pick up some polythene packaging bargains.
With Christmas just around the corner, Polybags - the UK's number one polythene manufacturer - is currently providing customers with some festive cheer by offering a series of great offers, including 20% off all Mailtuf strong mailing sacks for the whole of December.
These smart, professional mailing bags are made from extra-strong 75 micron (300 gauge) co-extruded polythene meaning they can withstand plenty of bumps and scrapes, providing you with total peace of mind about your deliveries at this the busiest time of the year.
The fantastic offer of 20% off comes just in time for Christmas, as is the case for Polybags' range of supreme high tensile white vest carriers - Polybags' recommended carrier range and a perfect seasonal white - and their brilliant resealable stand-up pouches - the perfect range of display bags for a range of retail products, available in all-over crystal clear film or with a shiny metallic silver backing to really make your products sparkle.
Black Friday fever has gripped the nation with two specialist packaging websites offering big voucher deals that they have extended into December. Blacksacks.co.uk are offering 20% off economy black sacks when you spend just £30, while at mailingbags.co.uk you can get 20% off all secure black mailing sacks on all orders over £75.
So there's plenty for UK retailers and packaging customers to feel festive about, but the Christmas spirit isn't just restricted to this part of the world.
In Australia, Bee Dee Bags have got a fantastic range of Christmas packaging on offer, including loads of festive plastic carrier bags, Christmas paper bags and a range of non-woven calico bags, all featuring super festive designs.
In the United States, Plus Packaging Inc. have a fantastic range of offers for the holiday season from Thanksgiving through to Christmas, with 10% off all first time orders of printed plastic bags, printed tape or other custom-printed packaging until 30 December 2016. They're also giving away a free tape dispenser for anyone who buys five cases of 2" Poly Pro tape.
So whether you're down under, State-side or in the UK, now's the time to get your hands on all the polythene packaging you need for the festive season and grab yourself a bargain while you're at it.
Record Christmas deliveries set to provide festive cheer to retailers
The continued growth of online shopping means that Christmas 2016 is all set to be another bumper festive season for online retailers in the UK.
Royal Mail delivered 130 million parcels in December 2015, an increase of 6% on the previous year, thanks predominantly to the continued growth of online shopping.
Figures published by the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index in January showed that UK shoppers spent £24bn online between 1 November and 26 December 2015 - an increase of 12% on the same period in 2014.
Sales peaked during the week of Black Friday, which falls on the fourth Friday in November each year and has recently become the biggest event in the retail calendar. 17% of Christmas sales took place during Black Friday week, an increase of 62% on the previous week, with bargain-hungry shoppers spending an estimated £4.3bn on discounted products.
Total online sales for 2015 reached £114bn - an increase of 11% on the previous 12 months - with a further growth of 11% forecast for 2016, predicting a staggering e-retail spend of £126bn this year.
This is good news for online retailers, mail order companies and eBay sellers, who can expect to be sending out parcels and packages in record numbers again this festive season.
5p carrier bag charge introduced in England
England has become the last part of the UK to introduce a levy on plastic carrier bags. From 5 October 2015, shoppers at major supermarkets and other large retailers have to pay a minimum of 5p for each carrier bag they use.
The new 'carrier bag tax' was implemented by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in a bid to significantly reduce the number of plastic bags taken away from shops. In 2014, 7.64 billion carrier bags were given out by major supermarkets in England.
The move follows the success of similar schemes in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, which have all seen a reduction in carrier bag usage amongst consumers since they were implemented.
The launch of the scheme in England caused some confusion, however, due to a number of exemptions to when retailers must charge for bags, based on employee numbers, the thickness and style of carrier bag and the contents being sold.
To find out more about the exemptions one of the UK's leading carrier bag manufacturers has published a detailed guide on the carrier bag tax and who it affects.
New website offers instant quote on printed carrier bags
Retailers looking for personalised printed carrier bags will no longer have to wait for a quote on production costs thanks to a brand new online instant quote system - the first of its kind in the UK.
The feature has been developed by Polybags, one of the UK's leading polythene packaging manufacturers, and provides customers with a real-time instant quote on their order, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
A simple order form on their website - Polybags.co.uk - provides customers with five simple choices on their printed carrier bag order: quantity, bag size, bag and ink colours and how many sides of the bag they wish to feature their design, which may include logos, slogans or other company branding.
Customers then just enter a few personal details, click 'Confirm' and their personalised quote is generated in seconds, with the price displayed on the screen and also emailed to the customer for their records. The whole process takes less than 60 seconds.
The instant quote system is the first of its kind in the UK and marks a significant development in the printed carrier bag market, where customers have until now had to complete an order form and await a callback during office hours to discuss their requirements. Customers who once might have waited a whole weekend to receive a quote, can now get one any time of day, 365 days a year.
According to the Polybags website, their new printed carrier service is "simple, fast &cheap", with the new instant quote system just part of a new streamlined order process, from website to production line.
With just five popular sizes to choose from, all made from 55 micron (220 gauge) polythene for smoother, thicker bags, Polybags are offering quality printed carriers from as little as 4p a bag - the lowest prices available on the web.
New anti-slip board breakthrough for transit packaging
A revolutionary new anti-slip board is set to shake up the world of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) transit.
The packaging breakthrough has been created by Dufaylite, the UK's number one manufacturer of recycled paper honeycomb, as part of their expanding Envirolite range of secure transit packaging.
Created using the brand's signature honeycomb technology, the anti-slip board features a coating on the surface of paper, allowing for slip angles of up to 45 degrees.
Ideal for layer pads used in FMCG transit pallet packaging, the anti-slip board will help to improve the shipment process for many companies and suppliers by offering a more secure base to maintain product integrity during transit.
Ashley Moscrop, Group Director at Dufaylite, said: "Slipping and movement of layer pads in FMCG pallet packaging proves to be a daily challenge for suppliers and contractors in the industry, so we're thrilled to be able to launch the anti-slip board, which is a more secure transit alternative."
The new product is fully recyclable through traditional cardboard waste streams, offering the eco-friendly benefits that are synonymous with the Envirolite range.
To find out more visit www.enviro-lite.co.uk.
Bags of Christmas cheer for packaging buyers!
With the busy Christmas period now upon us, polythene and packaging retailers are offering incredible loss-leader deals on some of their staple products.
In the UK, sites like www.mailingbags.co.uk and www.blacksacks.co.uk are offering vouchers for a free box of Santa's favourite bin bags, while manufacturer and online-retailer Polybags are getting into the festive spirit by offering huge discounts on some of their most popular products raising a few eyebrows with worried competitors with offers currently including:
- 20% off 100% recycled blue vest carrier bags
- 30% off best-value heavy duty mailing bags
- 40% off black security mailing bags
- 40% off extra strong black rubbish sacks
The company have also introduced a whole new range of wallpaper and wrapping-paper carrier bags and an expanded range of retail display bags for clothing to cope with Christmas demand.
Meanwhile in North America, Nashville Wraps have been offering an extensive range of deals since black-friday and mega-monday on paper shopping bags, coloured tissue and Gloss gift boxes.
While down under in Australia, QIS Packaging are once again leading the antipodean way with some terrific seasonal offers on Christmas ribbons and Christmas wrapping with more promises of more products due to come nearer Christmas.
So wherever you are in the world, if your business ever uses packaging now is a great time to secure the deals and get the products you need to see you well in to the New Year!
Back to Black
A new website specialising in black bin liners, bin bags and other types of refuse sacks launched this week. The shop promises a one-stop-shop for businesses and households looking to buy rubbish bags. They also list a comprehensive range of coloured bags but the big emphasis for the site is on the humble black bin bag.
Kids cereal boxes plant fresh eco-packaging idea
A children's food manufacturer in the United States has taken the idea of eco-packaging to the next level - a few inches below ground!
When kids finish their pot of Mighty Oats cereal, produced by Little Duck Organics, they just soak the packaging in water before burying it in the ground and - hey presto! - they can grow their own tasty vegetables.
The innovative Plantable Packaging concept - which features a seed-lined outer carton - was developed in partnership with UFP Technologies, a producer of speciality packaging.
The latest eco-packaging innovation from UFP, Plantable Packaging is made from 100% recycled and 100% recyclable fibre-board material that can be lined with variety of flower, herb and vegetable seeds, to suit the needs of the product.
When soaked in water for an hour and then planted in the ground, the seeds in the carton begin to emerge and, in the case of Mighty Oats, yield either tomatoes, lettuce or carrots.
Combined with a cereal pot made from starch-based plastic resin, the fully-compostable packaging helps Little Ducks Organics to create a sustainable product that produces minimal waste, with the added fun of growing your own vegetables.
By encouraging kids to test out their green fingers, the Plantable Packaging fits well with the healthy, sustainable image given out by Little Ducks Organics, whose products are all 100% organic, non-GMO and contain no added sugar.
Aimed at kids aged four months old and upwards, the Mighty Oats range are made from a variety of ancient grains, fruits, and spices and comes in three flavours: Blueberry Cinnamon, Strawberry Vanilla and Coconut Banana.
By combining a healthy product and a fun, educational task with the packaging's vivid colours, catchy artwork and clever designs - including a potted plant icon and the words 'Compost Me' - it's easy to see how Mighty Oats might appeal to kids and parents alike.
Plastic bag manufacturers join in the festive cheer
"Christmas is coming,
The goose is getting fat,
Buy plastic bags for massive discounts,
It's the time of year for that!"
With the busy Christmas period soon upon us, now is the perfect time for retailers everywhere to stock up on their packaging and take advantage of the fantastic offers available with polythene manufacturers around the world.
In the UK, Polybags are getting into the festive spirit by offering fantastic discounts on some of their most popular carrier bags. They have 25% off their entire range of varigauge carrier bags - available in clear or white polythene or a variety of colours - whilst offering the UK's best 'Made to Order' quote for printed carriers, helping retailers to stand out from the crowd at this busy time of year with their own branded Christmas bags (minimum order 3,000).
Polybags are also offering 15% off both their range of premium fashion carriers - very popular with gift shops and jewellery stores - and their premier range of black sacks, made of strong black polythene that is tough to tear, making them perfect for budding santas everywhere.
In North America, Mapleleaf Promotions are offering fantastic discount rates on their range of personalised clear or coloured plastic bags for both American and Canadian clients, while down under in Australia, QIS Packaging are once again leading the way with some terrific seasonal offers. These include a stock clearance on small brown paper bags and great discounts on bulk orders of Christmas bags, wrapping paper and coloured paper bags, to bring a bit of life to your festive shopping.
So wherever you are in the world, if your business is in need of some festive cheer for its packaging this Christmas, now is a great time to stock up for the busiest few weeks of the year, taking advantage of some great festive offers while you're at it.
Vegware - Packaging made from plants
18th April 2013 - Vegware, a company providing environmentally-friendly food packaging, has beaten hundreds of entrants across the UK to win the FSB Streamline Business Awards.
The pioneering firm is the only UK business to provide completely compostable food packaging, avoiding resort to landfill or toxic incineration. Its 'eco-catering' products range from wine glasses to cutlery, all of which are based on renewable or recyclable materials, and are entirely plastic-free.
From just a team of two staff in 2009, the company now has customers and franchises across the globe, serving the hospitality and catering industries which have traditionally had a poor recycling rate.
Joe Frankel, MD and founder of Vegware commented: "We saw that foodservice needed packaging which can actually be recycled after use, and responded to that challenge. Our solution of certified compostable catering disposals and full recycling support is helping the UK's biggest operators meet sustainability targets and save money. As a result, we have enjoyed tenfold growth in three years, and now employ a team of 26, up from two in late 2009. The FSB win is our fifth this year alone, and is fantastic recognition that Vegware is making a positive contribution to the UK economy and global sustainability, and we are truly delighted to see our achievements rewarded."
Conventional food service packaging is made of a mixture of different materials. Whilst many of these materials may in theory be recyclable if kept clean and separate, once glued together and then covered in food residue, the item is generally condemned to being buried or at best, burnt. Vegware ensures that all materials are compostable which means they can be placed in the same bin as food waste after use, with no need for sorting.
The awards recognise the contribution of small businesses in fuelling the economy's growth, and the innovative approach business owners are making to boost their fortunes.
Darren Wilson, Managing Director, Streamline said: "Small businesses play a crucial role in supporting the UK economy and as Vegware has shown, the trajectory for growth can be staggering. Vegware identified a clear need in the marketplace, recognised the incentives for businesses to get on board, and made a compelling financial and environmental case for potential customers."
Colin Willman, Chairman, FSB (Member Services) commented: "We were impressed by the staggering growth of this company, which now has an established footprint in countries from the US to Australia. Vegware fulfills a real need in the world of catering and proves that eco credentials are right at the heart of our economy's future."
For more information, please visit Vegware
source: A Taylor, Cctopuscomms
Branded mailing bags - Who will win gold this summer?
London 2012 saw the pinnacle of sporting endeavour come to the UK, but the competition was not restricted to the Olympic venues last summer. In the packaging world, companies sought to gain every possible advantage at an incredibly busy time of year and using custom printed mailing bags was one of the most popular methods.
Customised mailbags featuring logos and sales messages help companies to distinguish themselves in a similar way to using carrier bags. In a competitive marketplace, a smart, clear branding message on a package or parcel can help a company stand out from the crowd.
Bespoke packaging shows that a company means business. It increases brand visibility and provides an extra form of marketing that doesn't cost the earth.
In the race to get your business Polybags now offer a fully-automated and instant online quoting system for their printed mailing bags service. The customised manufacturing service allows design and production of most sizes of co-ex printed mailing bags or mailing sacks, and offers competitve rates, even for very low print-runs. As a bonus if you order before 1 June 2013, you get 50% off all setup costs. You can also access this custom printed mailer service via mailing-bags.co.uk and mailorderbags.co.uk.
There may be no Olympics in 2013 but, in the world of branded packaging, the race is still definitely on. Will your company win gold this summer?
Printed Mailing Bags
If you would like to have your mailing bags printed with your own design Polybags can get it done for you. Have your polythene mailers manufactured with your logo printed and enhance your brand and look more professional. Mailers can be printed with vital information about your company, add your physical and or web address for example, and help customers get back to you.
Polybags can also help you choose the correct format for the envelopes or mailing bags and give you free samples. If you are reading this before 1st of September 2012 you will have a chance to have 50% off all setup costs when ordering printed mailing bags.
The offer is available on the Printed Mailing Bags form at Polybags.co.uk but is also featured prominently on sister sites like mailingbags.co.uk and mailingbags.co.
With Christmas just around the corner the big packaging companies around the world are rolling out their biggest offers. In the UK, Polybags are offering a staggering 40% off their entire range of heavy-duty mailing bags. In the US Aplasticbag are offering a great 30% of all printed carriers while the antipodean packaging company QisPackaging are offering 5% off all online sales. Wherever your business is located don't forget to get your Christmas polythene bags in stock; there's nothing worse than running out of stock at the busiest time of year.
Plastic to oil machine
Read the full article on Our World 2.0
We found a very interesting article on Our World 2.0 telling the story of a Japanese company called Blest which have developed one of the smallest and safest plastic-to-oil conversion machines out on the market today. It's founder and CEO, Akinori Ito is passionate about using this machine to change the way people around the world think about their plastic rubbish. From solving our landfill and rubbish disposal issues to reducing our oil dependency on the Middle East, his machine may one day be in every household across Japan.
When the article was re-published, just over six months ago, the video brief about the invention of the plastic-to-oil converting machine had got a viral boost and had exceeded 115,000 views on YouTube, today is has almost 2 million hits.
As stated on the article this is evidence that concern over "the plastic problem" is certainly not going away.
While holding up a bag of rubbish, Akinori Ito states, "It's a waste to throw away, isn't it? This is a treasure."
Early Christmas for mailing bags and postal packaging retailers?
With some big retail names already preparing their Christmas displays it's not just discount packaging sites like www.discountgreetingscardbags.co.uk and www.greetingscardbags.co.uk that are receiving record traffic.
High street shops had a famously bad run up to Christmas last year but online sales for the Yuletide period stood at a record high. While the Bank of England has announced an expected slowing in recovery-rates, traffic to sites like mailingbags.co.uk and www.discountmailingbags.co.uk are booming. The reason is clear, online shopping is growing, shopping sites need to deliver, and cheap but reliable courier bags and postal bags are as key to each sale as the checkout button. Your local Postie looks set to really deserve that Christmas tip this year!
New packaging website wows customers
A total revamp of a well known packaging website is proving a massive hit both with trade and non-trade shoppers. Polybags is a brand name long associated with innovation; the company was founded in 1968, their website was one of the first e-commerce shops to go online (way back in 1999) and alongside their more traditional range of polythene bags they famously introduced a range of *truly* environmentally-friendly biodegradable bags made from potato-starch rather than the 'lip-service' degradable bags which may actually be more harmful to the environment offered by most manufacturers. Their latest innovation has won not only acclaim from customers and industry-insiders, but has attracted a lot of applause from the world of IT too, and fans of the colour pink everywhere. Sandy Badger, a spokesperson for Mangolab, designers of the site, says the success is down to a genuine desire to help the shopper: "we've made everything as easy as possible for the customer, no matter how hard it was for us". Jon Davies, a director of Polybags added "We've always offered great prices and a great service but what we wanted was a website that was built on that, and we wanted it big, bold, distinctive ...and pink!". (more...)
Coca-Cola collects six tonnes of packaging at music festival
Coca-Cola has continued its promotion of packaging recycling by collecting more than six tonnes of packaging at last weekend's Sonisphere music festival.
Coca-Cola Enterprises is looking to increase the recovery of drinks packaging in public places introducing schemes at a number of festivals this summer, including the Isle of Wight festival, V Festival and last weekend's Sonisphere at Knebworth.
Over the three-day festival, plus two days for setting up at cleaning up afterwards, Coca-Cola collected five tonnes of cans, 600kg of bottles and 450kg of lids that will all be recycled.
Reference: Simeon Goldstein - PackagingNews
New metal challenge as Faerch Plast targets pet food market
Plastic packaging specialist Faerch Plast has launched a range of products for pet foods, that it claims are a low cost environmental alternative to tins.
The containers are produced from Ampet, an ambient polyethylene material developed by Faerch Plast for the packaging of ambient products. According to the manufacturer the material is lightweight and doesn't taint the taste of the food.
"The pet food market is an ideal target for us" said Faerch Plast chief executive Lars Gade Hansen. "Ampet is an environmentally friendly alternative, which offers the possibility of completely new and innovative designs".
Reference: Philip Chadwick - PackagingNews
Yet more packaging knowledge on PackagingKnowledge. Ratbags gives an interesting take and often wry glance at industry issues from the perspective of our mystery industry-insider.
First UK Plastic Bags directory launched
The first dedicated online web directory for plastic bags manufacturers and packaging suppliers has been launched for the UK market. The website www.Plasticbags.uk.com aims to list the major suppliers for all main packaging categories including polythene bags, carrier bags, mailing bags and bubble bags. The site also lists manufacturers who provide biodegradable bags and environmentally friendly alternative products. The aim of the directory is to provide a one stop-shop for consumers wishing to buy packaging products. All sites are reviewed by an editorial team and visitors to ensure quality listinsg and suppliers can add their sites freely by adding a link back to the directory on their listed pages.
Bioplastics have a small but growing market
For Dennis McGrew, chief executive of NatureWorks, the high price of crude oil and natural gas is not unwelcome news.
NatureWorks, formerly Cargill Dow, produces a plastic made from plant stalk, not fossil fuel. McGrew, a former plastics executive at Dow Chemical, says that as prices for fossil fuels soar and as the environment becomes an ever larger concern, ecofriendly plastics are becoming increasingly competitive, though they still remain a niche market.
That bioplastics are trending upward is clear. In the past month, a number of large chemical concerns have increased their commitment to market segment, including Braskem, the largest Brazilian petrochemical group, and Dow Chemical. In September, Plantic Technologies of Australia announced that DuPont would market its starch-based resins and sheet plastics in North America, a new market for a company previously limited to selling in Europe and Australia.
Investors looking for an early upside in this emerging market have their work cut out for them, as the near-term profit potential is uncertain.
"I think what you are seeing is a more pull-driven event, where a lot of different companies in materials and packaging are looking to green up their own operations using alternatives to hydrocarbon plastic materials - hence the pull on the Dows and DuPonts of the world" said Ben Johnson, lead chemistry industry analyst for Morningstar, the equity research company.
Robert von Goeben exemplifies that market pull. Early next year, von Goeben, who went from the world of venture capitalism to become a toymaker in San Francisco, is scheduled to launch Green Toys, a line of plastic toys including a 17-piece tea set that would sell for upwards of $20, made from bio-based renewable plastics.
Though he admits that bioplastics are a "challenging technology" in that their quality is not always consistent, von Goeben sees a pull in the consumer market for plastic goods, toys included, that do not wreak havoc on the environment. He said his risks were reduced because he was able to step into an established product category.
"We don't have to convince people to buy a tea set" he said. "When you can apply new technology to existing demand - or in our business, an existing play pattern - that's where you have a win."
To date, Johnson at Morningstar said he had found no conclusive evidence in the financial data of the companies he tracked to suggest that bioplastics was making or losing them money. "In terms of scale, this is not a very large commercial activity for the chemical companies" he said.
For newly public bioplastic companies like Cereplast of the United States, which will supply von Goeben, the stakes are much higher. Cereplast and Plantic, both of which went public in the past 12 months and sell biodegradable starch-based resins, have no choice but to run headlong into the market.
It is a tall order. As Johnson noted, there are currently a lot of "little niches" within the bioplastics arena filled with companies pushing intermediary polymer products that "are the same in spirit and may even be derived from the same source."
Potential investors will want to familiarize themselves with the competing technologies as well as their environmental impact. Despite what the marketers imply, bioplastics are not an environmental panacea.
While bioplastics afford the opportunity for less dependence on fossil fuels and sometimes lower emissions of carbon dioxide, they typically need exposure to some form of industrial composting to degrade.
Steve Mojo, founder of Biodegradable Products Institute, a New York-based company that promotes the use and recycling of biodegradable polymeric materials through composting, pointed out that a cup made from cornstarch acts no differently than one made from petroleum when buried beneath the surface of a landfill: Without air and heat, it stays intact.
To the investor eager to own stakes in companies making plastics that are compostable as well as petroleum-free, Mojo suggested digging into company information. The American Society for Testing and Materials Specifications has been approving bioplastic products for composting in the U.S. market since 1999.
When oil prices hit $40 a barrel, NatureWorks found that its pricing could be competitive with polyethylene terephthalate plastics. Its polymers remain 10 percent to 15 percent more expensive than polystyrene or polyvinyl chloride plastics, according to a company spokeswoman, Mary Rosenthal. NatureWorks contends that its polymers take 68 percent less fuel to produce than conventional plastics.
NatureWorks, which has expanded its production capacity 35 times since 1999, is on track to generate more than 150,000 tons of its polymers by the end of this year, the bulk of which would be spread across some 45,000 retail shelves worldwide, from Marks &Spencer in England to E-Mart in South Korea.
Sony is using polymers by NatureWorks for Walkman casings; Wal-Mart uses them to produce packaging worldwide. The French retailer Carrefour sells nonwoven commercial products using its corn-based polymer fibers.
The Japanese chemical company Teijin bought a 50 percent stake last month in NatureWorks, McGrew said, with the express intent of expanding its global production capacities.
Based on developments like these and data collected from its 75 members, the 14-year-old trade group European Bioplastics recently projected that annual bioplastic production capacity - biodegradable as well as non-biodegradable - would more than triple to 1.5 million tons in 2011. By comparison, in 2006 the U.S. plastics industry produced an estimated 57 million tons of conventional plastic resins like polystyrene and polyethylene, according to the American Chemistry Council.
Sabine Arras, spokeswoman for European Bioplastics, which is based in Berlin, said the industry was currently, "a sellers' market with only a handful of producers" of plastics made from renewable raw materials.
The technology for bioplastics has been around labouratories for well over two decades, though it continues to develop through the efforts of companies like Metabolix, a publicly traded company that is building a plant with its partner, Archer Daniels Midland, to open next year. Its plastics can be made from dedicated crop plants like switchgrass, as opposed to high-demand feedstock crops like corn. There are even hybrids. BASF recently began selling a renewable plastic whose contents are 45 percent from NatureWorks and the rest its own petrochemical-based polymer.
For all the challenges that the bioplastics industry faces, attracting customers does not seem to be one. For example, two brothers, Joel and Duncan Gott, own Taylor's Refresher, a three-restaurant chain in the San Francisco area that attracts thousands of tourists on a single weekend day. After watching the restaurant's garbage cans overflow with plastic cups and utensils, the brothers decided to experiment with bioplastics - from cups and straws to the clear plastic bags that line their garbage cans.
It has been a costly proposition. The garbage bags alone cost about a $1 each - almost 10 times the price of the petroleum-based ones the restaurant used before. Moreover, the quality of the bioplastic products is inconsistent - cups sometimes arrive warped, so the lids will not fit properly. Nevertheless, Joel Gott said he and his brother felt like they were on the right path.
"I fully expect that the producers we're dealing with today may be different from the ones we buy from tomorrow" he said. "Still, we're not buying petroleum, and our plastic cups can be sent to the garbage dump and composted instead of sit in the landfill."
Reference: Hearld Tribune International - www.iht.com
Toyota Auto Body to Show 'World's 1st' Electric Car Using Bio-plastics
Toyota Auto Body Co. Ltd. has announced it will present four concept cars at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show. The concept cars are the "VOXY Bi-TREK" "Mobile Trimmer" "Trans-Pit" and "COMS BP."
The COMS BP is a small electric vehicle that uses bio plastics derived from plants for some of its body parts, including the hood, pillars and roof. This will be the COMS BP's world premiere.
The VOXY Bi-TREK is based on the "TRANS-X" 5-seater model of Toyota "VOXY" van and combines a motor-driven second row seat and an interior cargo cover with it. This van can be arranged into four modes, including one with the rear row seats turned around to use the rear space as a living room, for example, said the company.
The Mobile Trimmer is a mobile pet trimmer shop model based on Toyota "HIACE Super Long." Targeting pets such as cats and dogs, the van is equipped with facilities for trimming and shampooing.
The Trans-Pit is Toyota "HIACE Wide Super GL" equipped with a power lift for loading and unloading of a motorcycle and a functionally designed instrument panel.
Green Plastics Find Cautious Market
Target offers shoppers an unusual message about its gift cards at some stores, advising that they are biodegradable. "Just make sure you spend them first" the displays conclude.
This isn't just a marketing gimmick. Plastics made from corn and other plants are carving a tiny niche from the market for conventional petroleum-based plastics and being touted as green alternatives for everything from bulk food containers to lipstick tubes and clothing fiber - as well as gift cards.
So-called "bioplastics" offer the world a way to wean itself off oil, and most biodegrade to varying degrees. But their makers' green argument is complex, and environmentalists are cautious in their support.
Manufacturing bioplastics produces carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming. The materials are made from crops - corn, switchgrass, sugar cane, even sweet potatoes - that require land and water to grow. Some sound alarms because genetically modified organisms are used to spur the fermentation that creates them. And recycling them presents still other pitfalls.
They also can cost three times more than conventional plastics, which gives businesses pause about adopting them. Until bioplastics expand beyond their current tiny fraction of the overall plastics market, the road to popularity is expected to be rough.
"It's almost a chicken-and-egg scenario" said David Cornell of the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers. "It might someday reach that critical mass, but it has to happen very quickly, because in the meantime it can be a nuisance for us."
Bioplastics' main benefit would be to reduce from 10 percent the share of U.S. petroleum consumption that goes into plastic. The types that are biodegradable also could help compensate for the country's slow progress in recycling - only about 6 percent of plastic made in the U.S. was recycled in 2005, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Bioplastics also lack toxins like polyvinyl chloride that have raised health concerns and led California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this month to sign legislation banning chemicals called phthalates from toys and baby products.
"This is a promising new technology that faces some challenges" said Mike Schade of the Center for Health, Environment &Justice, a Falls Church, Va.-based nonprofit. "But we don't view them as insurmountable, if the industry is willing to face them head-on."
The market's newest entrant is Mirel, from Cambridge-based Metabolix Inc. It more easily biodegrades than rival materials and, unlike others, can break down in a backyard compost bin. Its first consumer application came in July when Target Corp. began using it in gift cards at 129 stores. Metabolix is talking with potential clients about dozens more applications for Mirel, from razor blade handles to a coating for disposable coffee cups.
Agricultural processor Archer Daniels Midland Co. provides corn feedstock for making Mirel, which requires genetically engineered bacteria to aid in fermentation.
The most widely used bioplastic, NatureWorks - a product of a subsidiary of Minnesota-based Cargill Inc. - also is corn-based and biodegradable. It is made without genetically modified bacteria. Some of the corn that goes into it is modified, raising environmental concerns on the sourcing end, but the company notes that protein from the corn is destroyed in processing. NatureWorks already is used in dozens of products, including water bottles - an application unsuited to Mirel, which isn't transparent.
Other bioplastics that biodegrade to some degree include Ecoflex, from German chemical company BASF AG; Mater-Bi, from Italy's Novamont SPA; and Cereplast, from a Hawthorne, Calif.-based company by the same name. And two major conventional plastics makers - DuPont Co. and Brazilian chemical company Braskem SA - make recyclable bioplastic that isn't biodegradable, the first from corn and the second from sugar cane.
No figures are available on overall bioplastics production, but bioplastics makers acknowledge the products occupy a tiny niche in the global plastics market, which totals $250 billion and produces 360 billion pounds a year. By comparison, the 300 million pound capacity of NatureWorks' Nebraska production plant is less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the market total.
For most biodegradable bioplastics, including NatureWorks, an industrial compost plant is recommended - facilities that are few and far between. The products are stable in places where microbes and moisture are minimal, as on a kitchen shelf. Metabolix says Mirel will decompose in a backyard compost within two months and about twice as slowly in soil, rivers, lakes or the ocean. But very few Americans compost, and most who do try not to include even paper products, let alone unfamiliar bioplastics.
"There's a lot more to it than saying it's scientifically and technologically possible to compost these materials" said Betty McLaughlin of the Container Recycling Institute, a nonprofit encouraging greater materials recovery and recycling.
And, just as different types of petroleum-base plastic can't be mixed in recycling, bioplastics should not be mixed with any conventional plastic because even tiny quantities can irreparably contaminate some melted petroleum-based plastics that have higher melting points, Cornell said.
"The sustainability concept is taking hold broadly, including in the corporate sector" said McLaughlin. "But these materials face a long road gaining acceptance."
A major bump on that road will be their cost. But, in another chicken-and-egg paradox, growing the market for bioplastics is key to bringing down their price, industry leaders said. NatureWorks says its production costs are just 10 percent to 20 percent above those of conventional plastics. Companies buying Mirel pay about $2.50 a pound, compared with 70 cents to 90 cents for petroleum-based resin, although the price difference is expected to shrink as quantities grow and oil prices rise.
Tamara Nameroff, acting director of the American Chemical Society's Green Chemistry Institute, said being as good as the product it replaces is not good enough for any green product, "even if you've proved you can make it environmentally friendly."
"You have to show a cost advantage to what it's replacing" she said. "The idea that people just want to purchase environmentally friendly products has been demonstrated in some markets, but not universally."
Though most consumers lack the patience to sort out all the arguments, environmental friendliness can sell. Ralph DiMatteo, 48, of Painesville Township, Ohio, said after learning Sam's Club gift cards are made of NatureWorks plastic that he would buy them as holiday gifts.
"I don't spend a lot of time researching these kinds of things, but if something is presented to me properly to show how my effort can make a difference for the environment, I'm willing to pay a couple extra cents" DiMatteo said.
For now, Metabolix is banking on that kind of attitude, said co-founder and chief scientific officer Oliver Peoples.
"We believe that there is a segment of the population that is willing to pay to basically feel better about using plastics" Peoples said. "And if a company decided it wanted to go in that direction of charging $2.03 for a cup of coffee rather than $2, our view is that we're adding something to their brand."
Green Plastics - Will they Grow?
The advertising departments love them. Plastics made from corn, or sugar, or just about anything else that sounds "natural." Use them in your packaging, they tell their customers, and the consumers will see you as a White Knight, saving them from the planetary destruction wrought by the Other Companies (competition) who are motivated, of course, by power and greed (buzz-words these days) rather than the conservation of the Planet.
It sounds like hype, and it is, but it works. It trades on the anxieties of a public constantly bombarded with press on global warming, food recalls, and the more ordinary corporate excesses. The Iraq war is psychologically connected with the higher gas and oil prices, which are connected to higher prices for everything else, and plastics are connected to oil as their raw material, so anything we can do to make plastics from anything else, especially if it sounds non-toxic, is preferred.
It's technical and economic baloney, but people eat a lot of baloney if it tastes good. The raw material for plastics is oil (and natural gas), to be sure, but in the form of energy those are the raw materials for paper, glass, metals, fertilizers, and just about anything else, too. As for toxicity, we have lots of good non-toxic plastics with years and years of safety record, even left alone by the antiplastics folk, but now there is the feeling that if it comes from a plant it's safer. Crude oil comes from plants, too, but that doesn't matter.
The bio-based plastics, degradable, compostable or just plain permanent, as well as the conventional plastics with degradation-promoting additives, will find their niches, especially in food packaging and other consumer goods, where their image can be used to sell them. They will not get far in large-volume markets like grocery bags (despite California's blatantly unscientific and inconvenient anti-bag laws), because of the sheer weight of the economic differential.
We are seeing a lot of bio-plastic press already, in advance of the gigantic K-07 Plastics Exhibition, and we'll see more as the bio-resinmakers get their prices down to competitive levels. (It helped that the prices of all other plastics have risen so much; all the bio people had to do was stand still.) We even see additives offered that strengthen these materials (notably impact modifiers for PLA) and thus overcome a competitive disadvantage vs PET.
But PET isn't standing still either, and is fighting back. We just saw an ad for a product in a "green PET package" which meant that (a) it was made with at least 50% recycle, and (b) it was processed with renewable energy! This isn't explained further, but I doubt that the extruders and molders are being run by solar or wind power. More likely, they are near a hydro-electric source. No matter, what's important is that it sounds green in terms the consumer can digest (recycle, renewable).
Keep tuned. And remember that the best way to save energy is not to buy the product at all
Defra seeks assessment of packaging's impact on environment
Focus on biodegradable and degradable packaging.
20 September 2007 ' The environmental impact of biodegradable and degradable packaging is seen as a key issue for the UK 's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and its implementation of the Government's waste strategy.
The news follows a warning from the Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap) that bioplastics need to be introduced with care by retailers and brand owners. (See PRW.com 12 September 2007 ).
Defra has published plans for a waste and resources evidence programme, which it says will help implement the Government's Waste Strategy for England 2007, published in May of this year.
The programme, the second of its kind, has been compiled by stakeholders to ensure the policies are 'evidence-based, not evidence-backed,' says Defra. The first programme, set up in 2004, generated over 80 projects and had a budget of up to '5m a year.
The research topics listed by Defra in 'The Waste and Resources Evidence Strategy 2007-2011' include: what are the environmental impacts of biodegradable and degradable packaging; what collection methods lead to high quality recyclates, and whether high collection costs are offset by environmental benefits; and how to best measure the carbon impacts of waste prevention and management.
Defra says its research and evidence projects are commissioned through open competitions on the department's website.
The nature of the projects will remain flexible, according to the needs of its waste policy makers, says Defra.
The Waste and Resources Evidence Strategy 2007-2011 can be found at: www.defra.gov.uk/environment/waste/wip/research/index.htm
Bioplastics with PLA based on sugar beet and sugarcane residues
An Italian biotech start-up called Bio-On is entering the bioplastics market with a process that produces polylactic acid (PLA) based plastics from sugar beet and sugarcane residues with a claimed efficiency of 95% : waste streams become valuable resources that can be converted almost in their entirety in a useful product. Sugar beet pulp, one of the prime feedstocks, is usually used as low value animal feed or disposed of at additional cost. Likewise, bagasse and mollases from sugarcane have a relatively low value and are abundantly available.
PLA based bioplastics are currently produced almost exclusively from corn and grain starch. But given that prices for these feedstock keep rising because of their use in the production of ethanol, the utilization of new raw materials becomes an attractive proposal. The production of sugar crops, on the contrary, is outstripping demand. Both Brazil and India delivered record crops, and sugar prices have declined in the EU.
The production process would reduce energy costs and as it is based on a multi-feedstock strategy, costs for raw materials would be substantially lower than those for traditional PLA production. A first range of products to be developed by Bio-On are a range of biodegradable plastics with natural flame retardants to be used for automotive applications:
The planned location of the production plant is quite significant: 'Plastic Valley' in Bologna, with output of 10,000 tons.
Bioplastics face a bright future in Italy. This year a series of laws and policies came into effect that aim to phase out the use of petroleum based plastic bags and other products entirely by 2010.
Wrap to clear up consumer confusion over 'green' packaging
The Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap) wants to develop standards to aid the processing of "green" plastics packaging in the waste stream.
Wrap said that consistent "branding" of products using these materials would help consumers separate them, after it found that people were confused about the wide range of green materials on offer.
It also wants to develop guidelines for composting, both in the home and for collected waste, and to identify technologies for separating polymers of different origins and carry out life-cycle analyses where appropriate.
Wrap hopes to publish research into the environmental benefits of biopolymers compared with conventional plastics and recycled content plastic packaging later this year.
Executive director Phillip Ward said compostable packaging and biopolymers had "great potential", but it was "vital" to introduce them with the correct infrastructure so they could be properly disposed of.
Last year, Wrap surveyed more than 400 people across the UK and found that 52% had heard of biodegradable packaging, compared with 15% for compostable.
A quarter of those surveyed said they would recycle "compostable" packaging, compared with 44% who would put in the normal waste bin. Less than a fifth would compost it at home.
Wrap has also published a position statement on biopolymers to clarify definitions of some of the terms used to describe packaging materials and factors to consider regarding disposal and environmental impact.
Plantic sales volumes rocket 90% following packaging drive
Plantic Technologies, the Australian developer of plastics made from renewable resources, has said sales volumes rose by 90% in the first half of 2006 as it made inroads in the packaging market.
The firm, which has developed technology to make polymers based on high-amylose corn starch, said today (4 September) that its packaging materials had attracted a number of active customers, including Marks &Spencer.
Brand owner evaluation of its first flexible packaging films also started in the first six months of the year, and Plantic has appointed a European manager based in Frankfurt to drive further growth.
The firm, which raised '20m when it floated on the Alternative Investment Market in May, said a "significant reduction" in its government funding had caused revenue to fall 11% from '486,000 (AUS$1.19m) to '434,000 for the six months to 30 June.
Its loss before tax and finance costs increased by almost a third, to '1.62m, due to higher research and development spending.
However, product revenue grew by almost a third to '317,000 as it changed its strategy in Australia from selling finished packaging to selling materials to third-party packaging converters.
Plantic still has '18.8m in cash reserves. Its share price rose by more than 4% this morning to 68p following the results. However, it has been in gradual decline since it peaked at 82p in late May.
CSM new offering will 'significantly' boost biodegradable plastics industry
AMSTERDAM (Thomson Financial) - CSM NV said its unit PURAC will begin to produce lactides, an essential ingredient for the production of biodegradable plastics.
The announcement represents one of the first times that biodegradable plastics will be able to be produced on an economical, industrial scale, according to the company, meaning a 'significant' boost for the development of the industry.
The raw material for biodegradable plastics, Poly-Lactic Acid (PLA), is made from agricultural products such as corn, sugar beet, tapioca and sugar cane.
Companies will be able to produce biodegradable plastics that can withstand temperatures of at least 175 degrees Celsius using the new products being produced by CSM, according to the company.
Bioplastics are used in, for example, hot-fill bottles, microwave trays, temperature-resistant fibres, electronics and automotive parts.
Arno van de Ven, vice-president chemicals and pharma at PURAC, says: 'Market growth has been hampered by the availability of economically achievable production technology. By using lactides as a monomer for PLA production, PURAC bridges the technology gap that currently restricts the plastics industry to accelerate the PLA market growth.
'The Lactide technology will reduce costs and investments for the bio-plastics industry and significantly contribute to the growth of the PLA market.'
Pira to roll out permeability testing scheme for packaging
Pira is introducing a new service for testing oxygen and moisture vapour permeability equipment for packs.
The scheme will initially be aimed at testing permeability through plastic drinks bottles to allow comparison between different testing apparatus and measuring techniques used by bottle manufacturers.
Polyester sample bottles, manufactured within minutes of each other from the same machine, will be sent out by Pira to bottle manufacturers to run through their own testing machinery.
These results will then be returned to Pira during the following four months in time for the publication of a statistical analysis report on the Pira website.
Subscribers will receive a full data report and personalised trend charts. They will also be allotted a personalised labouratory number so they can compare the performance of their machinery against other subscribers.
Participants can choose to test for oxygen and/or moisture vapour permeability.
Pira has offered permeability testing and proficiency services for 30 years and already runs a similar scheme for testing flat film.
The new service will be launched in September and will run twice a year thereafter.
More worked needed over recyclable packaging
Biodegradable food packaging is a viable option for the UK food industry, but only if proper recycling facilities are developed, according to a new handbook.
"Sustainable food packaging: biodegradable and compostable options", by Catherine Creaney, is designed to help plant managers understand sustainable food packaging, and how it may affect their businesses in future.
The food industry is increasingly using packaging made with starch, cellulose and polylactic acid (PLA), as opposed to the traditional petroleum polymer, because of consumer concern over packaging waste causing environmental damage.
This kind of biodegradable and compostable packaging was designed to be recycled and "cycle back into nature", Creaney said, helping to reduce landfill waste.
However, this kind of packaging is only environmentally friendly when industrially composted, Creaney added, and there are not many systems to do this available in the UK.
It then ends up in landfill, where it produces methane - a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.
Creaney also points out that the current use of sustainable packaging is limited, as its moisture barrier properties are inferior to its petroleum polymer counterparts.
"To date, there are a limited number of viable biodegradable and compostable food packaging material options that are commercially available" she said.
Over the past five years packaging suppliers have been introducing various forms of biodegradable materials in response to projections that consumers and recycling regulations will drive demand for environmentally-friendly packaging.
Mandates from giant supermarkets forcing suppliers to make the switch are also coming into effect.
However, some companies have indicated that switching to "green" resources is not always simple or profitable.
In May, UK-based Stanlico announced it would offload its biodegradable packaging arm and that it is abandoning its proprietary Greenseal technology for recyclable food trays.