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Environment

Finding the viable alternatives in packaging

The EFIA (European Flexographic Industry Association) has weighed in on the latest news about retailers looking to ditch packaging completely, rather than looking for viable, environmental alternatives.

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The problem with single-use plastics has thrust the packaging industry into the spotlight

“Whilst the eradication of over packaging of goods is laudable, it is quite clear that the key argument for the use of packaging to protect and preserve products is being entirely lost,” says the board. “The demands of the modern global supply chain require that products need packaging to protect them in transit, and indeed some sort of preservation technique to ensure they reach consumers in a fresh, clean and, most importantly, safe manner.”

The EFIA was established in 1972 to act as a unified voice for the European flexographic printing industry and has over 300 members across the continent. The association, led by a group of volunteers, aims to support and deliver educational programmes for the flexo printed packaging industry.

All members of the packaging and retail sectors are absolutely focused on delivering sustainable solutions to product supply

The board says that removing packaging entirely will create excessive waste and safety risks either earlier in the supply chain, in the busy retail environment in which the products are displayed, or in the consumer’s home, where products could suffer a shorter shelf-life performance.

“All members of the packaging and retail sectors are absolutely focused on delivering sustainable solutions to product supply,” the board continues. “All actions have consequences and while removal of packaging may seem like a sensible idea, the costs can be significant to everyone when not managed appropriately.

“Our belief is that all packaging should minimise resource use in its initial design, and either be recyclable or compostable, in line with circular economy principles.

... new and alternative solutions to those designs deemed less attractive from an environmental perspective will eventually be replaced

“Most manufacturers and brands are working to this principle today, and new and alternative solutions to those designs deemed less attractive from an environmental perspective will eventually be replaced.

“In referring to the replacement of plastics, many plastic packaging solutions are extremely lightweight, utilise recycled materials in their design and are fully recyclable at the end of their use.”

EFIA says that improvements must be made in the recycling infrastructure to tackle the challenges presented with plastics management.

Local councils have been warned by UK campaign group Our Paper, that it is not just China that is restricting poor quality materials but also Vietnam, which says it does not want “to become the next dumping ground for low quality mixed recycling.”

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