MARKET TRENDS AND DEVELOPMENTS
IN PACKAGING, EMAP, BRUSSELS 2001
Françoise Pardos, Pardos Marketing, February 2006
Packaging waste issue
The worry about the accumulation of solid waste was at its highest
point in 1990-1994 and it has considerably quieted since. The very
severe German requirements of the DSD could not be kept, and the
European legislation ended up less stringent. However the waste
concern has created a basic trend, with long-term effects. The durable
line of concern now involves the "4Rs", reduce, re-use,
recycle, recover. Probably the first reduce, and the last, recover,
are the actions with the most effective long-term impact.
Reduction is part of a general trend of simplification,
lighter weight, overall economy through clever concept and design.
There is still room for much improvement. Yet the much denounced
over-packaging is a subjective matter. It may depend whether the
package is for more or less immediate consumption or to be festive,
or for a gift. Packaging fast food to be eaten on the spot may seem
irresponsible, while it might be argued that packaging is necessary,
to carry-out, for better protection.
Re-use of packaging is probably a dead-end, to
stay marginal. The attempts to re-use returnable bottles of PC or
thicker PET, over many trips, for various drinks and milk, may not
be more than efforts to put the clock backwards. Third life of packaging
is only a marginal, but strong marketing phenomenon, packages designed
to be re-used at home, mustard glasses, cigarillos flat cans, frozen
meat reclosable plastic boxes, etc. Or the fresh cheese of Yoplait
in cubes that can be used as toys later. Or the Belgian Mio ice
cream, 120 ml portion, put into a china pot that can be later used
as a candle holder. However the re-use of plastic crates for fresh
produce and other foods is a very strong trend.
Recycling has had some amount of success, when
the packages and the materials are grouped in large quantities on
one spot and can be sorted out easily. This occurs with shrinkwrap
on large distribution stores, or bottles when they are pre-sorted
by the consumers. In general, when prices of virgin polymers are
low, not any recycling scheme can be effective.
Recovery, whether chemical, or thermal, in "a
great final fire", energy recovery to gain from the calorific
value of plastics might probably end up as the best answer, after
all the thinking through that went on for the last seven years,
on how to cope with plastics packaging waste.
The quantity of plastics waste in Europe as a whole in 1999 reportedly
was, estimated from APME, about 18 million tons, with 5 million
tons undergoing recycling, of which mechanical recycling, 9 %, chemical
recycling, 2 %, incineration for energy recovery, 19 %. Altogether,
just about 2 million tons, or 11 % of the plastics waste, was channeled
into feedstock or mechanical recycling in Europe.
For total packaging, all materials in Western Europe, from estimates
given by the main countries, in line with the requirements of the
EU Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, out of a total of 63
million tons of packaging, all materials, 23 million tons have been
recovered, as reported by Packaging Today International, March 2000.
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