The responsible packaging revolution

Five companies that are leading the way.

Photo by Jasmin Sessler from Unsplash

“Plastic is one of the most ubiquitous materials in the economy and among the most pervasive and persistent pollutants on Earth”. This quote is taken from a 2019 report by the Center for International Environmental Law which explores the huge impact plastic waste is having on climate change.

The outlook isn’t good. The report reveals that by 2050 plastic will be responsible for up to 13% of the globe’s total carbon budget. Single-use plastic packaging a giant part of the problem.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are plenty of businesses out there finding innovative and sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics. We went on the hunt for five trailblazing companies that are doing their bit to reduce plastic waste in 2020.

Vetroplas

Photo from Vetroplas Packaging

Vetroplas is a UK based packaging solutions company that works with some of the country’s biggest cosmetic and personal care brands. We’re talking about the likes of Sanctuary, Soap & Glory and Elemis. It specialises in sustainable packaging that hits the sweet spot between sustainability and aesthetics.

This year, the company is set to put its green packaging solutions firmly in the spotlight. This includes its fully reusable and easily recyclable lightweight aluminium bottles. Vetroplas will also be exhibiting its pioneering EZ’R foamer pack. This innovation means consumers can quickly and conveniently dispense a constant, high quality stream of foam through a flip top cap when squeezing the bottle upside down with just one hand. The best part? It’s made of 97% polypropylene, allowing it to be recycled more easily.

The company’s commitment to sustainable packaging while still appealing to the luxury consumer market is to be commended. It will be showcasing more of its green alternatives at Packaging Innovations 2020, coming to the NEC Birmingham on February 26th and 27th.

Loop (TerraCycle)

Photo from Greener Package

Remember back in the day… the milkman would deliver fresh bottles of milk in the morning, you’d drink them and then put the empty bottles back on the doorstep for collection and reuse. It’s an approach that’s become extinct with the introduction of plastic bottles. But it’s a tradition TerraCycle is keen to revive with its ‘Loop’ circular economy initiative. 

Loop goes further than just milk bottles. In fact, TerraCycle has struck up deals with some of the world’s biggest brands. Right now, it’s working with Tropicana, Dove, Gillette, Colgate and Haagen-Dazs to name a few. The idea is exactly the same as what the milkmen were doing all those years ago. You receive your product, use it, then put the packaging back in the special Loop tote bags ready to be collected, cleaned and reused. The process goes one better than recycling as far less energy is used.

After success in the US, TerraCycle has partnered with Tesco in the UK. Loop will be on our shores in 2020.

Colgate

Photo from Cosmetic Design Europe

Toothpaste tubes have always been a problem. Traditionally made from a range of different plastics wrapped around aluminium, they pose a problem for even the most clued-up recycler. So much so that the solution is almost always to throw them in the general waste. Of course, this single-use approach is terrible for the environment. But what can we do? Our hands are tied.

That is until toothpaste titan, Colgate, stepped forward with the first ever RecyClass-recognised recyclable toothpaste tube. It has overcome issues around rigidity and mass production to create Smile For Good, a toothpaste packaged in HDPE.

And with climate change on the table, corporate competition may have temporarily been put on hold too. Colgate has promised to share its packaging innovation with competitors as companies vow to work together for the greater good. As for what’s inside the tube, well that’s a different story.

Sorbos

Photo from EcoStraws

One of the most noticeable shifts away from everyday single-use plastic in the last couple of years has been the phasing out of plastic straws. Most manufacturers opt for paper as a natural alternative, but Sorbos has taken a slightly different approach.

OK – it’s not technically packaging – but it was too cool to ignore. Sorbos produces edible straws in a range of different flavours. A quick browse of its website reveals strawberry, lemon, lime and chocolate options – as well as customisable multi-flavour straws. They last in your drink for half an hour, giving consumers plenty of time to sip at their leisure. By reducing the need for any recycling at all, Sorbos straws are a completely sustainable solution.

Coca-Cola

Photo from CEO Magazine

In the battle against climate change, it’s often said that the very biggest corporations don’t do enough. But they don’t come much bigger than Coca-Cola, and the soft drink giant is definitely doing its bit.

At the end of 2019, the world’s favourite fizzy brand unveiled its first ever sample bottle made using recovered and recycled marine plastics. It’s also a global first for using this kind of plastic in a food and drink product. Granted, the company has only produced a few hundred so far, but the intention is there. Plus, when a company as big as Coca-Cola is doing it then everyone else has no choice but to follow suit.

Going forward, Coca-Cola has a plan to get to 100% recycled plastic in all of its bottles. In Great Britain, it’s already up to around 50%. A commendable start, but there’s still a long way to go.

So there we have it – five companies that are making huge leaps away from single-use plastic and showing us how it’s done when it comes to sustainable packaging.

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