In the last year, we have relied on packaging more than ever before. As health and safety have become the primary concern around the world, sustainable packaging’s progress has come to a halt.
The pandemic has led people to purchase more packaged takeaway, steer away from loose goods and leave our reusable cups at home. However, before these troubling times, consumers and businesses were becoming increasingly conscious of their sustainable efforts. It’s difficult to imagine the progress that could’ve been achieved without this extremely large bump in the road.
Nonetheless, now that we’re in the midst of a mass COVID-19 vaccination, we’re on the right track to normality. Could 2021 be the year that sustainable packaging makes a comeback? Right now we can only predict the future, but here’s a few things that could be on the horizon…
Living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and making sustainable choices has become a part of many people’s daily lives. In fact, a YouGov study in 2019 showed that half of UK shoppers were willing to pay more for sustainable packaging. This shift in consumer behaviour has been the result of an overwhelming amount of facts and figures that have forced their way to the surface through the likes of David Attenborough and other environmental activists.
In 2020, Attenborough’s documentary ‘A Life On Our Planet’ took to the screens, giving the world a shocking insight into the damage we’ve done to the Earth and how we must act now to change it. There was also the ‘Climate Clock’ which circulated the internet, a giant countdown displayed in New York. It shows the amount of time we have left to tackle the climate crisis until the damage is irreversible, which showed 7 years at the time. In the first March lockdown, we also saw glimpses of hope and nature fighting back for its health.
An example of this was the Venice canals, where the water is usually murky due to the pollution from diesel-powered commuter boats and water buses, but when the world slowed down the water cleared for the first time in years. Hopefully, all of this will prompt people to reduce their packaging consumption/waste in 2021.
Deadlines Are Looming
I know we’re talking about the future of 2021, but 2025 is the year where many sustainable goals are to be met by some of the biggest brands out there, including Coca-Cola, Colgate, PepsiCo and more. They’ve either pledged to become zero waste or use 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging.
2020 has thrown a spanner in the works for these companies, so this year there might be extra pressure to get back on track to meet these deadlines. We’ve already seen sustainable schemes being put on hold due to the pandemic, such as refill stations which were rapidly gaining ground in the likes of Waitrose, M&S and Asda.
However, so far no one has publicly retracted their commitments, so we can only hope that this year brands will be more proactive than ever to reach their sustainable packaging goals.
Not So Toxic
Already this year we’ve seen one of the biggest and most influential brands make a positive change. You may have already heard, but Amazon has banned certain toxic chemicals and plastics from their food packaging. Some of these chemicals have not only been linked to environmental issues but also various detrimental health issues.
Amongst these eliminated chemicals are PVC and Polystyrene, which have been known to harm the environment due to their non-recyclable properties. There’s also the use of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) which is known to never break down in the environment. We can only hope that this is a trend that catches on in 2021 and other brands take this step in the right direction.
In less than a year the plastic tax will be introduced, which will apply to plastic packaging produced in, or imported into the UK that doesn’t contain at least 30% recycled plastic. According to GOV.UK, ‘The tax will provide a clear economic incentive for businesses to use recycled material in the production of plastic packaging’. It’s hoped that this enforcement will create a greater demand for recycled material and encourage increased levels of recycling/ collection of plastic waste, diverting it away from landfill or incineration.
It’s expected that this new law will have a significant impact on plastic importers, producers and businesses. However, its positive impact on the environment will be much greater, as recycled plastic has a carbon footprint that can be up to four times lower than that of virgin plastic. With this coming into place in 2022, we could see a drastic change in the production of plastic throughout 2021 as businesses are forced to start switching to sustainable alternatives.
It’s safe to say that in the last year we’ve probably consumed more takeaway food than ever. Although it’s great to be able to support these businesses and keep them afloat throughout the pandemic, takeaways involve a lot of packaging, from the bag it comes into the sachets of sauces.
It’s been estimated that 500 million plastic takeaway boxes are used across the UK takeaway industry each year. Some takeaways have already hopped onto the sustainable train, such as Deliveroo which has launched an eco-friendly packaging range. However, we all know that switching to sustainable alternatives can come with a price, which not all businesses can afford. Could 2021 be the year where a solution is on the horizon?
If our predictions are correct, 2021 is going to be a busy year for sustainable packaging. For many people and businesses, the intention is already there to lead a more eco-friendly lifestyle. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, it hasn’t been so easy to put these good intentions into practice. This year packaging may focus on hygiene, but they can’t forget about the environment. We’re facing an environmental crisis and these two things need to go hand in hand.
At Tyler Packaging we can help you to make the switch, with our Sustainable Packaging range. It features 100% Recyclable, Renewable Bio-Based and Compostable pouches which are also plastic-free. These can be designed to suit any company’s needs while providing suitable protection for the products inside, helping companies choose the best packaging for them.
We’re dedicated to constant product improvement, and our focus in recent years has been and continues to be the development of sustainable packaging. Our ultimate aim is to produce a portfolio of products that provide a total solution to plastic waste contamination.
We believe that sustainable packaging is the future, let’s hope 2021 proves that to be true.