Head of Business Development, Antalis
Plastic has had bad press of late. But now there are exciting initiatives to recycle and reuse almost all.
There are few areas in the world that carry more misconceptions than plastic, but if the population was educated more about eco-friendly packaging and sustainable packaging, they would come to realise that it can be easily recycled. “Plastic is not evil,” says John Garner, Head of Business Development at Antalis, which offers a free Smart Packaging Audit to customers to help them reduce waste. “Single use plastic is a problem, but it is recyclable. If you look at industrial plastic, 90% of it is captured and recycled.”
A shift in perception
One problem is that consumers’ perception is shaped by the fact that post-pandemic, so many people get their items delivered to the home. The huge amount of waste it generates makes them dubious about the idea of environmentally friendly packaging. There is currently a world shortage of corrugated cardboard, for the simple reason that people have been sitting on it and not taking it for recycling. “When shopping is delivered, it brings plastic to people’s homes and 90% of what is in the sea comes from that,” says Garner.
The frustration of receiving a box full of air bags for something the size of a teacup means that future manufacturers are going to have to get it right.
He is broadly supportive of the idea of a plastic tax that applies to plastic packaging produced in, or imported into, the UK that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic. Although when this tax might actually be implemented is still a moot point.
Greater consumer knowledge
However, he believes that real change will come from consumers learning about sustainable brands. “After what we experienced in the last 12 months, environmental concerns went on the back burner as people were just striving to get goods,” he says. “But for the next generation of consumers, sustainability is going to be huge. The frustration of receiving a box full of air bags for something the size of a teacup means that future manufacturers are going to have to get it right.” Above all, though, he believes in sticking to the mantra of reduce, reuse and recycle.