With the aim of minimising the environmental footprint of packaging, companies are increasingly switching from plastic to biodegradable and compostable solutions. While these efforts are key for reducing plastic waste and fossil feedstock use - which has a significant carbon impact - experts agreed that replacing one material with another will not be sufficient to minimise the impact of packaging. Instead, they call for reducing the overall production levels.
Embracing minimal packaging and “naked products” can contribute to reducing material use, energy consumption, and overall packaging waste, of which there were 86 million tonnes generated in the EU alone in 2016. In light of these facts, the industry has to find a way to offer functionality while stepping away from single-use and excessive packaging.
2. Recycling systems must be improved
Research suggests that only 14% of plastic packaging is recycled. Negative externalities arising from low recycling rates has motivated the creation of circular initiatives such as Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme, a project presented by Zero Waste Scotland. The scheme, which aims at increasing the quality and quantity of recycled materials, consists on charging consumers a small deposit of 20p when buying a drink in a single-use container and then giving the deposit back once costumers return the packaging for recycling.