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We’re constantly asked about our plans to change or ditch packaging, plastics in particular. Single use plastic is a hot topic and it worries us as much as it does our customers.
We currently use plastic in our packaging because it’s light, clear, strong and versatile. It provides a barrier to extend the shelf life of our products, protects them during deliveries and reduces food waste. Ditching plastic is no mean feat. It’s a complex issue, exploring all the research is time consuming and there are so many conflicting opinions to wade through.
It’s not easy but we’re doing our best to understand the problem and make good choices. But it’s not always as straightforward as it seems, as the earth’s natural resources can sometimes be more put upon by our efforts to create a possible solution to an existing problem. Did you know that paper bags and cardboard, even if recycled and made from unbleached paper, have a substantially higher carbon footprint than the oil-based plastic bags?
Progress so Far
In 2010 we used the world’s first film made from at least 30% recycled plastic, but it wasn’t strong enough and, although it was fully recyclable, many local authorities didn’t have the facilities to recycle it. So we spent two years developing a thinner and stronger film and our pre-packs now contain 20% less plastic. This new packaging will save six tonnes of CO2 each year.
We’ve come to the conclusion that packaging is a necessary evil. Here’s what we have done so far:
- We’re supporting our customers’ zero waste activity by supplying bulk commodities and cleaning products, including the dispenser units.
- We reuse our boxes. Send them back and we’ll use them again.
- There’s 20% less plastic in our own brand pre-packs.
- We recycle the plastic wrap and Ecoleaf 5L, 20L and 25L containers in the UK. Send them back with your driver.
- We recycle all our cardboard waste within the UK.
- We no longer use plastic wrap when posting our catalogues.
- Our new reusable shopping bags are made from recycled plastic bottles.
- We have switched away from reusing polystyrene boxes for our smaller postal deliveries. These now go out in recyclable packaging.
- We’ve increased the range of Ecoleaf products available in 5L and 20L containers.
- We use 100% compostable wrap for all our paper products. It is made from potato starch and totally biodegrades under the influence of soil based micro-organisms.
- Our paper products (toilet rolls, paper tissues and kitchen towels) are made from 100% recycled fibres sourced exclusively in the UK. No chlorine is used in the manufacture.
It’s going to take time. Rest assured that we’re working hard behind the scenes exploring new developments with our local packaging company and working in partnership to drive innovations in packaging technology. We have to balance reducing food waste, the available recycling options in the UK and environmental concerns. Get in touch if you have any interesting developments you’d like to explore with us. We’re always open to a conversation and we’ll keep you updated as we find and explore new evidence and innovations.
WRAP is the government backed charity tasked with encouraging recycling.
Recyclenow explains recycling logos, what you can and can’t recycle currently and helps you locate your nearest recycling centre.