Make re­cy­cling sim­ple plea from town giants

UK STAN­DARD RE­QUIRED TO EASE PLAS­TICS IS­SUES

Grimsby Telegraph - - The Business - By David Lais­ter Busi­ness Ed­i­tor david.lais­ter@reach­plc.com Twit­ter: @dav­e­lais­ter

TWO of Grimsby’s big­gest com­pa­nies have called on house­hold re­cy­cling across the UK to be sim­pli­fied to make the war on plas­tics eas­ier to win. Young’s Seafood and sup­plier Ul­ti­mate Pack­ag­ing joined forces to raise the is­sue, cit­ing how lo­cal author­i­ties’ var­ied ways of deal­ing with waste make high-im­pact na­tional cam­paigns to change con­sumer be­hav­iour dif­fi­cult to de­liver.

While North East Lin­colnshire re­lies on a level of sort­ing by house­hold­ers, with three sep­a­rate boxes, oth­ers have a sin­gle wheelie bin for mixed re­cy­cling, with every al­ter­na­tive in-be­tween op­er­a­tional across the coun­try.

Speak­ing at a spe­cial Bond­hold­ers event at Ul­ti­mate’s ex­pand­ing Europarc fa­cil­ity, busi­ness lead­ers heard how food pack­ag­ing is one of the most crit­i­cal points in the plas­tic revo­lu­tion. It poses a par­tic­u­lar dilemma due to its fast-mov­ing con­sum­able sta­tus, and the two-fold abil­ity to help a prod­uct stand-out in a su­per­mar­ket and then to en­sure it is able to stay there with shelf-life ex­tend­ing qual­i­ties and pro­tec­tion. Ei­nar Ol­geirs­son, pack­ag­ing de­vel­op­ment man­ager for Young’s Seafood, told how the emo­tive “pow­er­ful tele­vi­sion” footage from Blue Planet had brought the is­sue to the fore. “Four­teen min­utes of tele­vi­sion got Tesco, Asda, Sains­bury’s and Mor­risons to say they would re­duce plas­tics by 10 per cent.

“We have com­mit­ted to re­duce plas­tic in pack­ag­ing by 10 per cent by 2020, and to be at 95 per cent widely re­cy­clable by 2025. We are se­ri­ous about this.” Work­ing in pack­ag­ing since join­ing the £500-mil­lion turnover town gi­ant in 2004, he said: “The chilled cat­e­gory has a heavy reliance on plas­tic trays, and for a very good rea­son. It is there to give the prod­uct its shelf life, re­duce food waste and for vis­i­bil­ity.

The prob­lem is not that we are ad­dicted to plas­tic, but the con­ve­nience it gives us. That’s what we are at­tracted to.”

And the same ap­plies to waste as it does cook­ing and han­dling. “We need pub­lic en­gage­ment and it is not go­ing to hap­pen un­less it is sim­ple.” Mr Ol­geirs­son said, cov­er­ing con­sumer dis­posal. “We need a sim­ple sys­tem for ev­ery­one.” Of the in­put from Young’s, he told how the Ross House team has taken 55 tonnes of plas­tic out of Asda, em­ploy­ing meth­ods such as re­duc­ing the thick­ness and size of some of the pack­ag­ing, tak­ing the su­per­mar­ket gi­ant from 17 per cent widely re­cy­cled in Jan­uary to 75 per cent widely re­cy­cled by the end of this year. “I still think there are op­por­tu­ni­ties for fur­ther growth, but we have met Asda’s tar­get of 10 per cent, and stretched it to 11.5 per cent,” he said. As a lead­ing brand ex­posed to in­no­va­tion streams, he told how mush­room de­rived pack­ag­ing and plas­tics be­ing re­fined back into raw ma­te­rial feed stock for re-use were in­ter­est­ing de­vel­op­ments.

Ul­ti­mate Group is the Europarc-based £50 mil­lion turnover pack­ag­ing firm, spe­cial­is­ing in flex­o­graphic and world-lead­ing in dig­i­tal so­lu­tions. More than 70 per cent of its work is for fresh pro­duce, with su­per­mar­kets ac­count­ing for a sim­i­lar per­cent­age of its work. Man­ag­ing direc­tor Jeremy Hod­son said: “We want to raise the level of green re­sources in our pack­ag­ing, we want to re­duce the amount of waste within the sup­ply chain and re­duce the amount of ma­te­ri­als used in flex­i­ble pack­ag­ing - all of which our new prod­uct de­vel­op­ment road map is try­ing to achieve. “We have a com­mit­ment to re­duce waste, we are a mem­ber of Plas­tics In­dus­try Re­cy­cling Ac­tion Plan, with the tar­get of 100 per cent of plas­tic pack­ag­ing be­ing re­cy­clable or com­postable by 2025.

“It was a case of hands up, we needed to wake up call, and the in­dus­try has re­ally stepped up to try and achieve these tar­gets.” Chris Tonge, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor at Ul­ti­mate Pack­ag­ing, told how com­postable ma­te­ri­als had been avail­able for a decade. “The prob­lem with all of them is they are con­sid­er­ably more ex­pen­sive than nor­mal films, and if we do use them, we have got to make sure they don’t end up in with re­cy­clables,” he said. “The big­gest is­sue is get­ting re­cy­cling right. Every coun­cil in the UK does that dif­fer­ently, so we need to join that up.”

From left, Ei­nar Ol­geirs­son, pack­ag­ing de­vel­op­ment man­ager at Young’s Seafood; Jeremy Hod­son, man­ag­ing direc­tor at Ul­ti­mate Pack­ag­ing; Chris Tonge, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor at Ul­ti­mate Pack­ag­ing; Diana Tay­lor, man­ag­ing direc­tor of Bond­hold­ers and Andy Parkin­son, chair­man of Bond­hold­ers. Be­low, Mr Ol­geirs­son pre­sent­ing.

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