According to Plastics Recycling Charity Recoup, the growing trend for material switching in the production of packaging, needs to be approached with caution.
When done without consideration for the effect on overall recyclability the impact is not always positive, says the charity.
When packaging is assessed in isolation rather than as part of the overall supply chain, citizens can be ‘lulled into a false sense of security regarding recyclability and environmental sustainability claims’. Any claims made concerning sustainability must be valid and not simply be a case of greenwashing, Recoup emphasised.
A growing number of companies are following the trend to change material types to claim improved sustainability and recyclability, said Paul East, Head of Packaging, Recycling and Design at Recoup, while some of these changes are not an improvement at all.
Recoup has therefore produced a set of case studies, called ‘Recyclability By Design’, which set out to demonstrate both the issues involved as well as how improvements can be made to ensure maximum recovery whilst minimising the impact on the environment.
Kate Bedford, Packaging Project Manager, explained; “There is a need to make brand owners and packaging designers aware of the factors which need to be considered when looking at changing material. Case Studies communicate what is required.”
The case studies illustrate to users and designers of plastic packaging how Design for Recyclability principles can be applied to ensure that their packaging can be recycled and can display accurate messaging to the consumer. They offer examples of packaging where the switch of material works counter to the recyclability and circularity of the packaging. Illustrations particularly highlight the issues with multi-material packaging such as laminated paper bottles and trays. Often the pack had the best chance of being recycled and recovered in its original state, thus questioning to what purpose the swap was made.