News Archives - WoldPac
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Posted by: In: News 19 Jan 2022 0 comments

There are some 6 million people in the UK suffering from food poverty, yet the introduction of the Plastic Tax will inevitably add some £400 million to the nation’s food bill, whilst adding to Global Warming.

plastic

There is already a shortage of polymer from PCR waste, thus retailers will either pay the tax or use substitute materials.

From April 2022, plastic packaging without 30% recycled content will be taxed at £200 per tonne. As currently the UK Food Industry uses some 2 million tonnes of plastic food packaging per year, the additional tax on the industry will be some £400 million.

Whist it can be argued that this extra tax can be avoided by using packaging with 30% recycled content, this proposal has the following major flaws;

1) The recycled film needs to be accredited for food contact.

2) There is not sufficient plastic recycling capacity available to achieve this accreditation standard.

3) What film is available is circa 50% more expensive to produce than virgin material.

As a consequence, it will be more economical for the food manufacturers /packers, along with packaging manufacturers and retailers to pay the tax. Eventually the Government will realise this is happening and its response will undoubtedly be to increase the tax to encourage ‘more recycling!! Thus, year by year this tax will be increased.

Current estimates by the Trussell Trust are that there are circa 4.6 million people in the UK, (7%) suffering from ‘food poverty’. It also suggests there are over 2000 food banks giving away food and that there has been a 33% increase in the use of these facilities in 2020 to 2021.

Against this background, it’s reasonable to conclude this additional tax on food, by the Government, will result in more people unable to afford to secure an adequate and nutritious diet. This is the Government’s own definition of food poverty. An equally perverse consequence of this legislation is that the UK Is a nett importer of packaging film, indeed apart from the Innovia Plant in Cumbria, the UK does not have any major OPP production facilities. As OPP film is a key constituent of plastic food packaging, we will effectively be importing other countries recycled waste materials. Even if 30% recycled content figure is achieved.

It is difficult to believe that increasing food poverty and importing other countries waste were high on the Government list of priorities when they decided to introduce the Plastics Tax but that; exactly the outcomes that will occur.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

At the current rate of progress, the Government is planning to introduce EPR by late 2023 or January 2024. The proposal is that the Packaging Industry will pay for the cost of collection, separation, and disposal (recycling) of its waste. In effect, this will transfer the costs and responsibility of the management of all packaging waste from the public sector (Local Authorities) to the private sector (Packaging Suppliers).

One suspects there will be no reduction in business rates as a consequence of this transfer of the costs involved, albeit the current packaging recovery note system (PRN’s) will be abolished.

The financial consequences to the Packaging Industry, particularly plastics, are likely to be horrendous and the table below indicates why this is : –

PRN % Recycling Targets (DEFRA)

Paper                  Glass                   Aluminum          Steel                   Plastic                Wood 

79%                        81%                    66%                86%                            59%            35%

PRN Average Charge Per Tonne ( Est 2021)

£6.50                  £46.25                £17.75                 £13.50                    £85.00                £6.00

From this, it can be seen that, not only does plastic pay significantly more per tonne than any other material for packaging recovery, but it pays virtually the equivalent per tonne of all the other materials added together. If this cost bias is to be maintained, it means that plastics will pay the highest share of the £2.7 billion estimated cost of EPR. Once again this will increase the cost of food, the consequent increase in the number of people in food poverty. 

The Environmental Consequences 

The inevitable consequence of increasing plastic packaging prices disproportionately relative to other packaging materials (which the Plastic Tax and EPR will achieve) is the substitution of plastics with alternative packaging materials. This will result in an increase of CO2 emissions, (global warming), waste generated and greater depletion of the Earth’s natural resources.

Extensive research has been undertaken to evaluate the potential environmental cost of plastic packaging substitution with alternative materials, two examples of which are as follows;

The USA 

Life cycle analysis (LCA) for the American Chemistry Council by Franklin Associates, a leading American research company concluded that using plastics for food packaging:

  • Saves enough energy to fuel 18 million passenger vehicles
  • Saves enough water to fill 861,000 Olympic sized swimming pools
  • Saves waste to the equivalent of 29,000 Boeing 747’s
  • Saves 67 million TPA of greenhouse gas emissions

Europe 

Similar research in 2019 using LCA by the European Institute for Energy and Environmental Research concluded substituting plastics for rigid food packaging (excluding bottles).

  • Reduces EU global warming potential from EU packaging by 33%
  • Reduces the total weight (waste) of non-beverage primary food packaging by 70%
  • Reduce the depletion of the Earth’s natural resources, including water by 30%

For the purpose of the European research, the Authors have assumed, ‘That if no recycling of the plastics takes place and 100% of the alternative materials to plastics were recycled, there would still be a reduction in greenhouse gas warming potential of 14%.’

Whilst these assumptions are deliberately extreme, they highlight the environmental benefits of using plastics for food packaging.

Summary 

There are numerous other studies which conclude the plastic packaging has a lower negative impact on our environment than alternative materials and that by using plastics we are conserving the Earth’s resources. However, it has to be said that plastic pollution from litter and dumping plastic waste, be it on land or sea, presents us with a significant problem. But surely these are much easier problems to solve than global warming which we deliberately increase when we replace plastic, with alternative materials. 

The Government alleged they had a 2 year ‘Consultancy Period’ before introducing the Plastics Tax. However, it is obvious the anti-plastic lobby won the day, as a consequence driving more people into food poverty and increasing global warming.

Meanwhile, there is little doubt that consultation period for EPR will result in similar negative environmental consequences based on the experience of the Plastics Tax, we can conclude that the whole current consultation process is meaningless. There is little doubt the mistakes already made will be compounded.  

Meanwhile, I would welcome your views and thoughts.

Posted by: In: News 08 Dec 2021 0 comments

The subject of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans once again looms large in the media. On Sunday morning, the BBC featured ‘The Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch’ as its second item on its news bulletin, just behind the latest developments on COVID. Coincidentally, The Times on Friday had a full half page story of a sea turtle, which had lost its flipper being caught in abandoned fishing gear. Along with an article similar to the one by the BBC highlighting changes in ‘The Great Pacific Garbage Patch’.

plastic in the ocean

Once again the media spotlight falls on ‘Plastic Pollution’ in our oceans and the consequences of its continuance. Whilst it is inconceivable that any sensible person will not recognise that plastic is a major pollutant when dumped in our rivers and oceans, and that it harms the marine environment and some aquatic life. However, the resurgence of these stories prompted me to learn more about the subject and explore what other ocean pollutants were being dumped in our rivers and oceans, I was amazed to find the following;

Chemicals Dumped in the Oceans – 180 million tonnes

According to Earthland, around 180 million tonnes of toxic chemicals are dumped into the world’s river and oceans, these include lead, cyanide, arsenic, mercury, and at least 30 other dangerous chemicals. Unlike plastics, these chemicals are not inert in the marine environment and decimate areas of discharge, not only all aquatic life, but also all marine vegetation, creating oxygen starved ocean deserts in the affected areas. 

Raw Sewage pumped into the Oceans – 80% of the World’s Raw Sewage

The second largest pollutant identified was raw sewage. According to Skimmer (Marine Eco Systems and Management), over 80% of the worlds raw sewage is discharged untreated into the worlds rivers and oceans. Once again, the resultant effect on the aquatic eco system can be devastating with large areas of sea and river water deprived of oxygen, thus, ensuring little lives and nothing can live or grow in the most contaminated areas. In addition, whilst much of this waste is ‘biodegradable’, the bacteria and parasites from human waste are absorbed by fish and other sea creatures, presenting a health hazard when ? to humans caught and eaten. An equally nauseating consequence of the pumping of human sewage into the oceans, as noted by ‘Surfers Against Sewage’, is the detritus which floats on the tide, often to the beach including solid human excrement and sanitary products!

Oil – Spills and Dumping into the World’s Oceans – 706 million Gallons

There are an estimated 706 million gallons of oil waste from industrial discharges, oil spills and natural ocean bed seepage. This figure similar to those produced for chemicals, sewage and plastics has to be taken with the proverbial ‘Pinch of Salt’, however, some large oil spills can be measured. The world’s largest oil spills spewing being between 400 and 500 million gallons of crude oil (Persian Gulf 1991) whilst the BP Deepwater Horizon Mexican Gulf spill was estimated at 150 or 200 million gallons. Whatever the numbers, we know oil in the oceans has a devastating environmental effect. As do the other pollutants noted, who can estimate how much sewage is actually pumped into rivers and oceans or indeed how much plastic is in the domestic waste dumped by the major ocean polluting countries?

What we do know is the crude oil does enormous damage to fishing and fisheries by poisoning the food chain on which they depend (water encyclopaedia) and whilst biodegradation and decomposition occurs overtime, the Tar balls created can last for long periods before dissipation.

Like sewage, oil reaching the shoreline simply compounds the environmental problems, particularly to both marine and birdlife, due to the difficulties removing the oil coating from bird feathers. One final problem is the toxic foam created, which can be spread on land or sea by the prevailing winds. 

Plastics dumped into the World’s Oceans – 12 million Tonnes 

Estimates of plastic dumped in the world’s oceans are as varied and unreliable as those for chemicals, sewage and oil. The Natural History Museum estimate between 4.7 and 12.7 million tonnes per annum. However, Plastics Oceans claim there are 269,000 tonnes per sq. mile of ocean. (As there are 139.5 million sq. miles of ocean, I leave you to work that one out). Whatever the figure, we know that just 4 countries, China, India, Philippines, and Vietnam account for around 80% of this dumping which is fed into the oceans down just 8 major rivers. 

In addition to this plastic waste dumping, there is abandoned fishing gear and the residues from the Tsunami of 2004. These are estimated between them to constitute around 65% of the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’. Whatever its detractors claim, whilst plastic pollution in the oceans is abhorrent. The facts are that it is far less environmentally damaging than oil, raw sewage or chemicals and a much easier problem to solve. 

What is particularly interesting is that the other Ocean pollutants noted only rarely make the headlines and somewhat surprisingly no one blames the material, be it oil, sewage or chemicals. Why then when it comes to plastic do people insist on blaming the material?

In Perspective – Ocean Pollution

180 million tonnes of chemical waste per year

80% of the world’s raw sewage per year

706 million gallons of oil per year

12 million tonnes of plastic per year


Meanwhile, I would welcome your views and thoughts.

Paul.

Posted by: In: News 18 Nov 2021 0 comments

I first wrote this headline in 2019 after a visit to Recycling Technologies, the Swindon based developer of a small scale chemical recycling plant they had named RT7000. It was designed to recycle 7,000 tonnes per year of ‘difficult to recycle’ plastics.

The Managing Director and founder of the company, Adrian Griffiths, outlined his vision for the future of plastic waste recycling. His objective is that every major waste disposal site in the UK would have at least one RT7000 machine located on site, to process all those plastics that were difficult to recycle, from metalised laminates to polystyrene, black and mixed plastics.

Adrian had no illusions about the difficulties facing the development, not only of the pyrolysis technology needed to recycle these plastics back into oil, but also designing a modular plant which could be erected in a few months, not years, on each of the UK’s EFW sites. Indeed, at the time of my visit the pilot plant was once again ‘down for maintenance’.

Nevertheless, I was shown barrels of ‘plaxx’ produced earlier. This was the resultant high quality, high value oil, ideal for specialist applications, or ‘cracking’ back into substrates, such as plastic. 

At that time, amongst many others, the company’s major problem was keeping the money flowing in from investors through crowd-funding, with literally £millions needed each year to maintain the momentum of development. The ‘cash burn’ was over £10 million and counting, but it was obvious that the environmental potential and financial benefits for a small scale, easily erected, chemical recycling plant for different plastics is exceptional. Indeed, a recent report by the World Economic Forum calculated that the ‘lost resource’ from our failure to recycle all plastics was some $120 billion. Unfortunately, the commencement of the initial pilot plant to be constructed in Perthshire, Scotland was once again delayed due to COVID.

Since 2019, Recycling Technologies have made considerable progress, including entering into a joint venture with Ineos to recycle polystyrene. In addition, they are currently intending to raise some £40 million by floating the company on the AIM Junior stock market, this will be a major step to achieving Adrian’s plans for 1,300 RT7000 plants, operational by 2027.

Meanwhile, on Teesside, Mura Technology is building the world’s first commercial scale chemical recycling plant for converting some 80,000 tonnes per year of all types of plastic waste. The process being used here is slightly different using ‘super critical’ steam to convert plastics back into oils and chemicals. The plant is scheduled for completion in 2022 and Mura are projecting that they will build some 1 million tonnes of chemical recycling capacity around the world by 2025.

These projects, and others, such as Sabic in the Netherlands, BASF in the USA, and Plastic Energy in Spain involve some serious money invested by some of the world’s leading petrochemical companies, determined to make all types of plastics part of the Circular Economy, along with reducing carbon emissions by recycling plastic waste. In these circumstances, we could anticipate that these developments would be welcomed by environmental organisations, such as Greenpeace. Major companies making major investments to recycle plastics. Unfortunately, this is not welcomed by Greenpeace. Ivy Schlegel, their Plastics Research Specialist, describes chemical plastic recycling as a ‘fantasy’ and should not be considered recycling. She goes on to claim that of the 52 current projects in process in the USA, 50% are not viable and 50% do not meet the Greenpeace criteria for recycling. She claims that these projects have recycled just 0.2% of the plastics produced in 2017 which is probably correct as chemical recycling of plastics is still in its infancy in 2021.     

In my opinion, these comments expose the hypocrisy of Greenpeace and several other so called environmental organisations (Plastic Planet). Such is their anti-plastic agenda that, whatever the industry achieves in recycling, greenhouse gas reductions, waste collection and waste management, it will not be enough.

The reasons being, they have built their raison d’etre on anti-plastic agenda which ignores the invaluable role plastics play in all aspects of our daily lives. These organisations and their very existence, in some cases, are threatened by making plastics more environmentally acceptable, with a resultant loss of membership and income. If they were really serious about solving at least one of our environmental problems they would support the investment being made worldwide in chemical recycling of plastics.

Posted by: In: News, Sales and marketing 20 Aug 2021 0 comments

High Visibility Printed Tapes for Promotion and Security

tape

 

We have been offering plain PET for some while now as most of the supermarkets have banned the use of PVC tape. PP is not really a viable option for carton sealing as it lacks the strength of PET or PVC. Due to Europe wide shortages of PVC and consequently the spiraling costs, we have embraced the situation and can now offer printed PET as an alternative to PVC.

PET is a Premium Packaging Tape with excellent adhesion and high- quality strength

PET is ideal for printed logos and enhancing your corporate identity.

The benefits are:

  • Reduced material costs compared to PVC
  • More environmentally friendly
  • Perfect for sealing boxes Acrylic water-based adhesive
  • Excellent adhesion
  • High Tensile strength
  • Easy cutting – cleaner cutting than PVC

POLYPROPYLENE (PP)

Polypropylene printable packing tape is ideal for the colder environment.

Polypropylene tape is cheaper and ideal for instruction labeling – for example: FRAGILE, QC REJECT, ORGANIC, DESTINATIONS etc. Logos tend not to be as clean on PP as they are on PET, as the tape is thinner.

STANDARD PRINTABLE MATERIAL

PET White only (Clear available November)

PP White & Clear

We can print up to three pantone colours on all materials in widths 12mm to 150mm and can include half tones of any colours already used.

As a guide standard rolls are 48mm x 66m Minimum order quantity for Printed tape is 144 rolls

PRINTED BARRIER FILM

We also offer printed non-adhesive barrier films in different sizes, colours and thicknesses This is great for highlighting health and safety regulations and also areas of caution. It can also be used for advertising for promotion and outdoor events.

COSTS ARE RISING

It is with regret, that due to various circumstances still evolving around the current pandemic, raw material, Brexit and shipping costs, pricing is increasing.

We fully understand this news is not welcome at this moment in time. We always try to do our best to avoid any increases where we can.

Please note: Currently we can only accept orders for normal historical usage and are working on a 3-4 week lead time in order to meet this demand. For new business we will do our best to meet the need but please bear in mind conditions present at this time.

Posted by: In: News 04 Nov 2020 0 comments Tags:

Iceland, the frozen food giant not the country, has recently announced that they have reduced their use of plastic packaging by 350 tonnes and no one seems to be asking why?

They could have announced…

Iceland have just chosen to increase packaging waste by 1,000 tonnes per annum. This will unnecessarily use 24,000 fully grown trees and unnecessarily contaminate over 12 million litres of fresh water. They have also chosen to increase their CO2 emissions and thus add to global warming!!

Of course, they may argue that the trees are from sustainable forests and that the water is cleaned and recycled (producing nitrogen and phosphorous toxins in the process). But, what they won’t be making clear is what they think the environmental benefits of substituting paper and compostable board for plastic packaging actually are.

This is because they are well aware that multiple studies using life cycle analysis (LCA), both in Europe and America, have concluded that substituting paper for plastic has a negative impact on the environment. This is predominantly due to the paper and board packaging required being 3 to 4 times heavier than the plastic it replaces. The LCA concludes that there is a similar 3 to 4 times increase in CO2 emissions during its manufacture and use, including the additional vehicle movements required to transport the extra weight of packaging, both before and after use.

Unfortunately, compostable board has a similar negative environmental effect when compared to plastic, as compostable material is organic, requiring land, water, and fertilization for its growth. In addition, it requires the use of a significant amount of energy for its transformation from organic matter to compostable packaging. Interestingly, recent post-consumer research into domestic waste concluded that the majority of compostable packaging enters the normal domestic waste stream and is therefore treated like normal waste, rather than being composted.

But, is it fair to criticize Iceland if they are simply giving their customers what they want? Perhaps it is as Iceland know that most of the plastic being replaced is HDPE, which is one of the easiest and most common plastic polymers to be recycled. Surely, with a different approach, Iceland and their customers could become part of the solution to plastic pollution, rather than the perpetuating the myths that somehow the use of plastic packaging is environmentally bad.

They could, if they so wished, offer their customers a deposit return scheme (DRS) as the bulk of the 350 tonnes of plastic being replaced is in rigid trays and punnets. They could put a cover price of say 10p on every tray and punnet, to be repaid to the customer on the return of the packaging to the store. Iceland could then ensure the packaging was correctly recycled instead of (as claimed on their website) having the potential to join the 12 million tonnes of plastic which enters the world’s oceans every year. (This figure for ocean waste goes up every time its printed!)

It is most unfortunate, but Iceland’s current stance on plastic packaging is disingenuous. They obviously know that the science behind the Environmental case for using plastic for food packaging is for the most part indisputable, particularly in reducing food and domestic waste. Yet, they persist in perpetuating the public’s misconception that plastic is somehow unacceptable and should be replaced whatever the cost to our environment.

What seems equally unacceptable to me is that Iceland is forcing their suppliers to adopt their anti-plastic policy and simultaneously suggesting that other supermarket and food manufacturers, who fail to follow their lead, are somehow deliberately damaging both the environment and the planet. They know this simply is not true. They could, if they so wished, concentrate on reducing all their packaging whilst at the same time, leading the way in supermarket plastic packaging collection and recycling.

It would only take one peak hour programme, where the BBC chose to attack food waste and excess packaging, rather than plastic, to expose the current Iceland anti-plastic packaging strategy as being somewhat ill conceived. Meanwhile, it’s great PR for Iceland, but bad news for the environment.

#DontHatePlastic