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Posted by: In: News 15 May 2019 0 comments Tags:

The pace of change in the food packaging industry is truly remarkable. Whilst we may have our own views on the content of Blue Planet II and its tenuous relevance to the UK it has undoubted driven a change in thinking on a truly awesome scale.

This change was particularly evident at the recent Packaging Innovations exhibition at the NEC. The scale and versatility of our industry was there for all to see. However, a myriad of exhibitors promoted their products on environmental criteria. Buzz words were ecological, sustainable, recyclable, biodegradable, compostable, life cycle assessments, CO emissions, Circular Economy, whilst Closed Loop, recycling and carbon footprints were freely discussed with virtually everyone wanting to make their contribution to ‘saving the environment’!

This made me wonder, what has happened to our sense of perspective? In the past we have considered the prime requirement of food packaging was to protect the pack contents to ensure they were preserved and presented in pristine conditions and we chose the best and most economical materials to ensure that happened. Now we have examples of Asda using glass for bottles, Morrisons bringing back paper bags, Waitrose using compostables for bananas and the Co-op using similar materials to replace plastic bags.

These are all highly reputable companies responding to the current public preoccupation with the current anti plastic paranoia. However, anyone with a modicum of knowledge about the adverse effect of the environment, should these alternative materials be widely adopted, must conclude this is simply the wrong way to go. In effect, we are moving back to heavyweight materials for packaging which drain the environment of precious natural resources and add to Global Warming.

For example universal adoption of these alternative materials would mean that we would need tens of thousands of acres to grow the base materials for compostable and biodegradable films. In addition we would use millions of gallons of extra water to facilitate their growth and the additional CO emissions generated in their manufacture, transport and disposal would simply add to global warming.

The Institute of Chemical Sciences has recently produced a paper which concluded that replacing current plastic packaging applications with the current alternative materials available would result in a doubling of energy consumption allied to a tripling of greenhouse has emissions.

It is for these reasons the National Flexible stand at the NEC focused solely on ‘the Future of Flexible Packaging’ courtesy of the ‘Academy’. This is a 2-2½ hour presentation of the facts regarding plastic packaging and how best to respond to the current demand for change.

It includes details of how we can, with judicious use of new film technology, reduce our use of plastic packaging without resorting to packaging which is environmentally inferior to plastic.

Crucially the Academy presentation also highlights the latest developments in plastic recycling particularly converting waste mixed plastics back into oil for reuse, a 100% application of the Circular Economy. All we need now is local authorities to collect the waste plastic.

Circular_Economy

#DontHatePlastic

Published by Barry Twigg at National Flexible

Posted by: In: News 17 Apr 2019 0 comments

BBC shows support for plastic! Shock!

Somewhat surprisingly last week BBC Business News published the following article on its website in support of using plastic particularly for food packaging!

Why surprisingly?

Well, as we are all aware it was the BBC’s Blue Planet II which initiated the current ‘war on plastic’.

Could it be that the powers at the BBC have recognised the adverse consequences of their somewhat distorted reporting about the perils of plastic in the original programme and is it possible that they are now wanting to redress the balance a little to give a more positive view of plastic packaging particularly for food applications, where manufacture of replacement materials create more CO₂ emissions in addition to consuming more of the Earth’s resources than plastic?

For those who missed the original BBC article, an edited version of the key items is as follows.

  • Flexible film developed for wrapping materials was invented in 1904 by Swiss chemist Jacques Brandenberger. He called it ‘cellophane’ and ideally was looking for a waterproof fabric replacement
  • Having achieved some success in developing his new material in 1923 he sold the patent to DuPont
  • Unfortunately, the original ‘cellophane’ whilst waterproof was porous. However, DuPont discovered the addition of a nitrocellulose coating made a flexible film perfect for food packaging, particularly meat, which could now be sold cut, in pre-packed portions without losing its colour and with a longer shelf life
  • As a consequence, sales of meat and other pre-packed food of all types increased dramatically during the 1930’s and 40’s. However, by the 1950’s Dow Chemicals had developed a plastic film for food wrap which was lighter, lower cost and more versatile than ‘cellophane’. This material based on LDPE significantly widened the applications for many other pre-packed products than food
  • Another advantage was that the new LDPE plastic products could also be produced in rigid formats for drink bottles and other semi rigid containers

The article then has a very interesting diagram that explains much about the current problems of separating and recycling the different types of plastic food wrap

plastic_explained

  • The article then goes on to highlight the positive effects of plastic in food packaging giving the example of cucumbers, where just 1.5g (0.05oz) of plastic extends the shelf life from 3 days to 14. Less waste.
  • Similar situations occur with less obvious foods such as bananas, potatoes and apples which unwrapped will change colour or in the case of the latter get damaged in transit.
  • Consider the following plastic facts from a Danish Government report. This compares to the much maligned ‘single use plastic bag’ with a supermarket ‘bag for life’. This would need to be used 52 times (every week for a year) to break even environmentally. Whilst a reusable cotton bag needs to be used 20,000 times (every day for 50 years). Otherwise if we don’t have the single use plastic bag we deplete more of the Earth’s resources and generate more CO₂ emissions.
  • A similar UK Government Report claims that due to transit packaging only 3% of food is wasted before it gets to the shops. This figure can be up to 50% in developing countries where no packaging is used

Interesting

It’s evident that the originator of this article has researched his subject thoroughly and used reliable sources such as Government Reports, Incpen and Harvard Business School and we are delighted the BBC has brought the positive case for the use of plastic packaging for food to a wider audience. The radio article is part of an excellent series by

50things_promo_1920x1080

For those wanting to read the full version please follow this link to the BBC.

Posted by: In: News 28 Mar 2019 0 comments

Why a Dead Whale is Strangely Significant

First of all I apologise to any regular readers of these jottings! I had intended to move on from the current media preoccupation with plastic pollution in the oceans but this report last week, in my opinion, cried out for further analysis.

Unfortunately, this Dead Whale Tells us a Story

A recent Guardian article highlighted the death of the Cuvier’s Beaked Whale which had starved to death due to the 40kgs of plastic in its gut making it impossible for the whale to digest real food.

plastic in whale

The article went on to say that marine biologists from the D’Bone Collector Museum in Davao City in the Philippines have dealt with 61 other whales and dolphins deaths over 10 years all in the waters surrounding the Philippines. Based on the number of these deaths it should be asked ‘Why is this particular death significant?’ other than it is the largest volume of plastic waste yet found in one mammal?

Let us consider

  1. The location. The Philippines lies between Indonesia and China, at the closest points these countries are some 800 kilometres apart with the Philippines in between
  2. The population. China has 1.4 billion people, 60% of which live along the Yangtze River (800 million). The population of Indonesia is 180 million people; 50% of which live on the coastline (90 million). The population of the Philippines is 106 million, 62 million of which live in the coastal cities.
  3. Thus in total there are over 1 billion people living on the coast of these 3 countries who between them (along with Vietnam) are responsible for 80% of the total plastic waste dumped in the World’s oceans. In summary, these 4 countries deposit a total of 6 million tonnes per year of discarded plastic waste into their rivers and seas
  4. As a consequence, 6 of the top 10 rivers in the World responsible for carrying waste plastic into the World’s oceans come from these countries. 4 are from China, 2 from Indonesia with the Yangtze (800 million people) the number one polluting river in the World
  5. In addition, Bali the tropical island paradise in Indonesia, has declared a 3.6 mile stretch of tourist beaches a hazardous zone and is clearing up to 100 tonnes per day of plastic and other rubbish washed in daily by the tides

Is there any wonder in these circumstances that the whales/dolphins/turtles in these waters swallow plastic bags instead of jelly fish?

What is this plastic waste?

Equally important are the constituents of the hundreds of plastic items swallowed by this whale. The majority were apparently rice sacks, banana bags, plastic bags and flip-flops!

The first two are obviously items widely used in these regions, but I suggest the ‘flip flops raise an even bigger issue. We know all this plastic debris arises from the practice of these countries simply disposing of their domestic refuse by just bulldozing it into the local rivers and surrounding seas, to enable it to ‘disappear’ with the tides. However, as plastic is less than 2% by weight of domestic waste (UK figure). Thus 98% of what these countries dump in the Pacific and Indian Oceans must be all their other domestic waste. In essence, they dump millions and millions of tonnes of other rubbish, all of which must contain pollutants, but which is never mentioned, presumably because it’s not plastic!

What can we do about the environmental vandalism?

The first thing we should do is to stop deluding ourselves with the idea that if we reduce our use of plastic this will somehow solve the problem of plastic pollution in the World’s Oceans, this simply is not true.

Secondly, I find it difficult to believe but the UK provided financial aid to China of £49 million in 2017!

In addition, we also provided financial aid to Indonesia for support of various projects in water filtration, forestry conservation, carbon capture and sustainable land use. Whilst it is difficult to find any direct financial aid from the UK to the Philippines (other than disaster aid). The EU contributes over 120 million Euros per year through various enterprises and charities. Thus the UK must pay our share of these monies.

Surely, as a consequence, we should be using any influence these payments give us to apply pressure on these countries to stop waste dumping in the seas. We could discontinue giving financial aid until some action is taken. We could also have some positive influence if we tried. If our government, media and the BBC seriously promoted the ‘Cure’ for plastic pollution in the oceans i.e. stop these countries dumping their waste, rather than simply report on the Symptoms of dumping which are more dead whales, dolphins and turtles.

At that point we might at last see some progress. Meanwhile we simply report the consequences of this massive plastic pollution as if it were an Act of God or some natural phenomena of which we can do nothing about, rather than a pollution problem that we can at least help fix relatively quickly.

#DontHatePlastic

a big mess

Source nationalflexible

Posted by: In: News 06 Mar 2019 0 comments Tags:

At WOLDPAC we support informed debate on these important issues that effect on us all.

This article was published by Barry Twigg at National Flexible

The pace of change in the food packaging industry is truly remarkable. Whilst we may have our own views on the content of Blue Planet II and its tenuous relevance to the UK it has undoubted driven a change in thinking on a truly awesome scale.

This change was particularly evident at last week’s Packaging Innovations exhibition at the NEC. The scale and versatility of our industry was there for all to see. However, a myriad of exhibitors promoted their products on environmental criteria. Buzz words were ecological, sustainable, recyclable, biodegradable, compostable, life cycle assessments, CO₂ emissions, Circular Economy, Closed Loop and carbon footprints were freely discussed with virtually everyone wanting to make their contribution to ‘saving the environment’.

Which made me wonder, what has happened to our sense of perspective? In the past we have considered the prime requirement of food packaging was to protect the pack contents to ensure they were preserved and presented in pristine conditions and we choose the best and most economical materials to ensure that happened. Now we have Asda using glass for bottles, Morrisons bringing back paper bags, Waitrose using compostables for bananas and the Co-op using similar materials to replace plastic bags.
These are all highly reputable companies responding to the current public preoccupation with the current anti plastic paranoia. However, anyone with a modicum of knowledge about the adverse effect of the environment should these alternative materials be widely adopted must conclude this is simply the wrong way to go.

Universal adoption of these alternative materials would mean that we would need tens of thousands of acres to grow the base materials for compostables and biodegradables in addition millions of gallons of water would be needed to facilitate their growth and the additional CO₂ emissions in their manufacturing, transport and disposal simply adds to global warming.

The Institute of Chemical Sciences has recently produced a paper which concludes that replacing current plastic applications with current alternative materials would result in a doubling of energy consumption allied to a tripling of greenhouse gas emissions.
It is for these reasons the National Flexible stand at the NEC focused solely on ‘the Future of Flexible Packaging’ courtesy of the ‘Academy’. This is a 2-2½ hour presentation of the facts regarding plastic packaging.

It considers, in detail, the options currently available to reduce the use of plastic in food packaging and those materials currently in the process of development which will further alleviate the problems not only of mixed polymers and recycling, but also the ‘Closed Loop’ recovery process that should satisfy the current critics of plastic in packaging.

This presentation has been delivered to over 40 of the UKs leading food manufacturers with over 200 delegates taking part. It will undoubtedly be of interest to any major food manufacturer or retailer who wishes to develop a medium to long-term food packaging strategy which is environmentally and economically viable.

The ‘Academy’ is presented at the participating company’s site, you do not need to be a customer to participate. This is not a National Flexible sales pitch, our aim is simply to build a consensus for a way forward which is practically environmentally equitable.


We welcome your thoughts and debate.

Posted by: In: News 07 Feb 2019 0 comments

Adding to its extensive range of packaging and supplies Woldplac introduces a line of Sugar-Cane based Carrier Bags.

This Carrier bag is made from sugar- cane based polythene and has been awarded PAS2050 certification by the Carbon Trust and is classified as paper for the packaging waste regulations. This is the first polythene product in the UK to be officially carbon negative

Key benefits include:

  • 100% Recyclable
  • Environmentally Friendly
  • Organic Polymer 96% Less CO2
  • From Photosynthesis
  • Reduce costs on Packaging & Waste Tax
  • Bio-based, Carbon Negative

Order your bags today.

plastic bag