Sustainable packaging – the fight against single-use plastics

In 2020, the UK placed 4.9 million metric tonnes of plastic on the market. Out of this, 3.7 million metric tonnes became waste. In order to reduce plastic pollution, companies across the nation are now working to incorporate circular economy solutions into their business plans.

New life

The circular economy is a sustainable model of reusing, repairing, and recycling materials as many times as possible. In comparison to a linear system, circularity allows wasted materials to have a new life or to be recycled back into new products. As a result, waste is captured and the need for raw materials is alleviated. Below we look at how some leading companies have been responding.

L’Oréal Paris

L’Oréal Group is leading the way for sustainable packaging within the cosmetics industry. In collaboration with Paboco, the company has created a paper bottle using sustainably sourced paper. If used en masse, this has the potential to significantly reduce plastic waste.

In addition, the environmental profile of 96 per cent of all new products launched by the company has improved in 2020. L’Oreal has also committed to using 100 per cent reusable, recyclable, and compostable plastic packaging by 2025.

As part of the L’Oréal for the Future campaign, the company has pledged to become sustainable by 2030. This includes the preservation of natural resources, management of water sustainability, fighting climate change, respecting biodiversity, and banning testing on animals.

Tesco

Tesco, one of the leading supermarket brands across the nation, is also making significant contributions towards sustainability. As well as ditching singleuse plastic bags, the supermarket is promoting a circular economy within its own brand products, such as bin bags.

This has reduced plastic sold throughout the company. In fact, over one billion pieces of plastic have been saved since this sustainability campaign began. Also, since 2018, Tesco has removed 11,400 tonnes of hard-to-recycle materials from its own brand packaging.

The future looks bright for this company. It is committed to making 100 per cent of the paper and board used in its packaging sustainable by 2025. In 2021, it also pledged to remove an extra 500 million pieces of plastic from its supermarkets throughout 2022.

Waddington Europe

Waddington Europe, a leading producer of rigid plastic packaging, is committed to sustainable packaging innovation. Its Eco Blend and Eco Blend Pura ranges, as well as being fully recyclable, are made with 100 per cent post-industrial and postconsumer recycled content.

In recent months, the company has also designed an innovative strawberry punnet. This product uses raised based cushion technology that removes the need for an extra layer of protective bubble wrap and any adhesive. As a result, Waddington’s strawberry punnet requires no glue, and it can be easily recycled straight back into food-grade rPET.

LUSH Cosmetics

LUSH Cosmetics prioritises sustainability throughout the production process. In fact, 66 per cent of all products sold each year are naked and require no packaging at all, saving 4,275 tonnes of plastic throughout its stores. This includes a number of popular products, such as bath bombs and shampoo bars.

In recent years, LUSH has designed its first piece of carbon-positive packaging. The cork pots, ideal for naked shampoo bars, are reusable and biodegradable. Throughout the production process, each cork pot retains 33 times its own weight in carbon dioxide.

LUSH Cosmetics has also introduced sustainable schemes. The Bring It Back scheme allows customers to return used packaging in exchange for credit towards their next purchase. In addition to this, the Fresh Face Mask scheme gives customers a free face mask every time they recycle used packaging at one of the LUSH stores.

ASDA

Last and certainly not least, ASDA is leading the way with forward-thinking packaging solutions. Since 2007, ASDA has reduced the weight of their packaging by 27 per cent, and the supermarket is committed to making all of its packaging fully recyclable by 2025.

ASDA has introduced a packaging-free store in Leeds. This gives customers the opportunity to refill their own reusable containers with groceries, including pasta, cereal, dog food, and laundry detergents. The scheme is set to be expanded to other locations throughout the UK.

This article was produced by Waddington Europe, a European thermoforming packaging specialist division of Novolex.

This article originally featured in the July/August issue of London Business Matters Magazine.