Home » Sustainable Packaging » Material innovation: solving the plastic packaging waste crisis

Daphna Nissenbaum

CEO and Co-Founder, TIPA

12 billion tons [1] of flexible packaging end up in the trash each year, and recycling is not cutting it. Daphna Nissenbaum of TIPA tells us about technology helping brands make a change.

Since the 1960s, brands and consumers have accustomed themselves to the convenience of single-use plastic, which serves as a barrier to protect food freshness and provides durability and shelf life. Recently, science has directed our attention to what becomes of our plastic packaging, and, as it turns out, most of our world’s produced plastic still exists, and recycling isn’t limiting our plastic production as we hoped. Currently only 9% [2] of all produced plastic has ever been recycled.

Plastic waste is rarely recycled

Flexible packaging (for crisps, granola bars, bread bags) makes up a substantial sector of the plastic packaging industry, and is almost impossible to recycle. The packaging often combines several materials to enhance mechanical or chemical properties and, because of this, very little of flexible packaging’s plastic is eligible for recycling.

Raw food substances can further contaminate packaging [3], prohibiting recycling due to health standards. Recycling these materials is a costly process [4] with a limited market for the end-product. Brands who want to keep packing their products will have to look to new materials and new solutions.

Circular packaging solution

Imagine if all of the items from your next trip to the grocery store could be sent together to compost bins instead of landfills to be made into healthy soil over the next few months. This innovation isn’t science fiction, it already exists, and now leading brands in the UK and overseas are rolling it out one product line at a time.

Daphna Nissenbaum is the CEO and Co-Founder of TIPA, an Israeli company working with brands across Europe, the United States, and Australia, and producing compostable flexible packaging alternatives for the food and fashion industries.

“When we first started with this idea, back in 2012, people looked at me like I was dreaming,” Daphna remarks. “But, over the last year, demand has exploded as the conversation around our waste, and issues such as climate change, are becoming more widely discussed. It took us a long time to find the right unique solution, and now, we are able to scale up fast.”

Leading brands on board

With compostable packaging easily replicated over typical plastic production lines, TIPA’s product opens new markets for traditional retailers.

“We’ve seen clients dramatically increase their market share by switching to compostable packaging,” says Daphna

Leading brands like Bimbo, Waitrose, Mara Hoffman, and Stella McCartney have adopted TIPA’s new material innovation because it gives them the ability to retain all the quality features they received from their former conventional packaging while breaking down fully in a sustainable end-of-life process. As more consumers demand brands with a sustainable ethos, more companies will prioritise sustainability as a path to market growth.

“The kids are out on the streets demanding change. The price for not adopting alternatives is more expensive, and not just in dollars – it is costing the health of our planet’s ecosystems. This generation is setting new market standards, and those who refuse to adapt will lose their markets. I hope that governments everywhere push companies to innovate more in this area. Our planet needs change.”

[1] https://www.huffpost.com/entry/flexible-plastic-packaging-recycling_n_5cf01c23e4b0a1997b67132c [2] https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/7/e1700782 [3] https://www.packagingdigest.com/flexible-packaging/is-100-recyclable-flexible-packaging-possible140807 [4] https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/plastic-recycling-underperforming-sector-ripe-remake

Next article