Plastic not-so fantastic | Breakthrough Funding

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Plastic not-so fantastic

Iceland wants to dump non-environmentally friendly packaging in five years – surely there’s an innovation that can help?

Food retail giant Iceland has announced that its own-brand food products will be plastic-free by 2023, such as replacing the current black trays with paper-based alternatives. Suggestions have also included packaging apples in nets, in the same way that oranges already are, instead of plastic bags. 

The chain is some 20 years ahead of the Prime Minister, who wants to see all avoidable plastic waste banned by 2042. The move has the support of shoppers, too, – Iceland’s research showed that 80% of customers would endorse the supermarket’s pledge to go plastic-free.

But do we currently have the capability to replace a packaging material that has done so much to make the food manufacturing and supply industries more efficient in recent decades? Can we achieve what we need to do with just the resources already available to us – such as paper – or do innovators need to step up? Can we create a brand new material that will cut out plastic without causing knock-on problems elsewhere in the system? 

The UK gets through 3.7 million tonnes of plastic every year and since China banned plastic waste imports, we’re facing the challenge of dealing with this waste ourselves. So the argument for ditching plastic long-term is a compelling one. It remains to be seen whether Iceland will hit its target and whether there will be any associated economic, logistical or waste disposal issues sparked by the move to more environmentally-friendly materials.

If so, and if these could be foreseen and eliminated by innovation, we could get one step ahead in the ongoing battle to reduce our impact on the natural world.

Are you working on innovative packaging that could do the same job as plastic but without wrecking the environment? If so, give the team a call on 0800 772 0800 and share your story with us. 

Also, don’t forget to enter the packaging category at the FoodTalk Awards. Entries close at midnight on February 16, so don’t delay, enter today!

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