Sustainability was top of the agenda at Birmingham’s Packaging Innovations trade show (February 28 to March 1), with some of the UK’s leading retailers making emphatic pledges to become plastic-free and eliminate waste in as little as five years. Impressive start-ups showcased the latest in sustainable packaging solutions, while designers gave a lesson on tactility through e-commerce packaging.
- Environmental Promise: The emphasis on sustainable packaging comes in the midst of Theresa May’s January unveiling of the British government’s 25-year environmental plan. The prime minister has committed to eliminating all avoidable plastic waste by 2042 – a problem she describes as “one of the biggest environmental scourges of our time”.
Last month, in collaboration with British environmental action group A Plastic Planet, Dutch supermarket group Ekoplaza Lab launched the world’s first plastic-free aisle in Amsterdam. It features nearly 700 organic products across fresh fish and meat, fruit and vegetables and ambient offerings such as tea and cereals, packaged instead in compostable biomaterials.
Supermarkets following suit include British frozen food chain Iceland. Drawing a crowd on the Packaging Innovations 2018 industry stage, Ian Schofield, the company’s own-label and packaging manager, shares its ambitious plans to make its own-label range of more than 1,000 product lines plastic-free by 2023. “We must attempt to turn down the tap of plastic production,” he said.
Schofield explained that after 40 years in the industry, the tide is turning and there’s now a need to move back to natural materials and explore plastic alternatives. The supermarket chain has already saved over 2,000 tonnes of materials by simply reverting back to pulp cartons instead of polystyrene on two of its egg lines.