PLASTIC UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT
What’s happening with plastic packaging?
At the beginning of 2018, the
European Commission launched its ambitious Strategy for Plastics, with the goal
of ensuring more than 50% of packaging is reused or recycled by 2030, and no
more than 10% of plastic waste is sent to landfill. With these measures, the
European Commission aims to reinforce waste reduction policies, but also
increase income in a post-Brexit Europe, as the United Kingdom’s exit from the
European Union represents around €15bn less in revenue, according to the
European Commissioner for Budget, Günther Oëttinger. Italy was the first
country in the eurozone to introduce a tax of 45 cents per kilo of single-use
plastic sold in 2020, and it is expected that the remaining European countries
will soon follow suit.
Are we facing a war on plastic?
The situation is
complex. We are at a crucial point in time when China has closed its borders to
low-value plastic waste, and there is growing concern about climate change
caused by current rates of consumption. This has led to plastic food packaging
being given a bad rap, regardless of the clear environmental benefits it
provides. The food industry has, therefore, embarked on a journey of
transformation with regard to sustainability. It aims to reduce the
environmental pollution that is so frequently the subject of viral social media
posts, and which has huge repurcussions for companies when they see their
packaging in the marine environment.
It is no secret that SP
GROUP has taken this issue very seriously, investing a large part of its
resources and much effort into acheiving sustainable, mono-material structures,
such as our new, 100% recyclable PE HB ECO, as well as biodegradable and biobased materials that
disintegrate in industrial composting plants. Another of our new products is an
rPET film made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic, which consolidates our
commitment to the circular economy. This means production is not only fed with our own post-industrial
waste and that of others (TRAY2TRAY), but also uses post-consumer trays.
In my opinion, plastic is still the
safest option for food packaging. Its levels of chemical migration are low, it
requires fewer resources (energy, water, etc.), and it is lighter, making it
easier to transport. Plus, of all the polymers, polyester (PET) is the most
recycled plastic in Europe, with 1.9 million tonnes collected in 2017, a figure
which represents 58% of all the packaging on the market, according to PETCORE.
PET is the only polymer that can be reused 100% in the extrusion of new
packaging, and we are able to do this thanks to the vacuum decontamination
technology we have, for example, at our plant in Espiel. SP GROUP has a clear commitment to continue
its R&D work into the use of PET trays, replacing current PS and PVC ones
with other less-polluting types.