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Suma launches new recyclable packaging

Submitted by on March 16, 2010 – 12:37 pm6 Comments


We’re happy to tell you this packaging can be recycled

How many times have you read “We’re sorry but this packaging cannot be recycled” on the back of food packaging in shops? It makes you ask questions like, “Can’t you use something else then?” or even “So what are you doing about it then?”

At last, a film which is recyclable and contains recycled content.

Suma has spent the last two years researching, developing and testing a new plastic film which is :

  • safe to use on food products
  • durable enough not to split
  • light enough to keep transport costs low
  • transparent so you can see the contents of each bag
  • easily recyclable, comprising recycled content

The film is made from rPET (recycled PET). This plastic is also used to make pop and water bottles and most local authorities have schemes running to collect and recycle it. PET is usually a thick rigid plastic, most favoured for the packaging of liquids. PET can also be made into fibres to form a strong fabric, polyester, which is used in clothing, furnishings etc. Now for the first time, as far as we are aware, someone has managed to make a thin, flexible film from this versatile material, which we’re using for food.

Have you heard it crinkle yet?

Suma’s new prepacks are a lot noisier than those packed in conventional films. The bags crinkle when picked up – you can tell you’ve picked something up which is different to what you’ve handled before. We also like to joke that the noisy packs should reduce shop lifting.  The packs have been available since mid February, with the whole range eventually being  converted to new film by 3rd April 2010.

Carbon footprints and practicalities

To start with Suma considered all possibilities from paper, to plastic, from bags and tubes to boxes. Anyone who has considered the carbon footprint of a product or action will be aware how complex the issues actually are. We assumed that using paper or cellulose packaging would be less environmentally damaging than plastic. However it would seem that, taking into account the energy required to produce the material, chemicals, raw materials and water used in production, PET turns out to be a far better option. PET is actually a waste material from the oil industry and if unused would be landfilled. Better still if you can have recycled PET content, which, as recycling of PET increases, can be in ever greater proportions.

We’ve had an interesting time trying to make this new film run through conventional packing machines, finding inks to print onto it, sealing it, keeping costs down, talking to our customers about design, checking it will recycle once used, and checking it’s fit for use with foods.  We hope you’ll think the end result was worthwhile – and we expect other companies to soon follow suit.

Recycling Issues

You can contact your local council to find out what PET recycling facilities there are in your area or look online.  Most councils already collect PET plastic pop and water bottles. Some councils may find it difficult to deal with a PET film because it is likely to blow about – therefore we suggest that you roll up empty rPET bags and poke them into a PET bottle for easy recycling. Some councils collect PET and then landfill it anyway. Sadly PET recycling plants are few and far between. With your help, Suma can firstly generate more demand for recycled PET and also put pressure on local councils to collect and recycle more PET.

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