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Industry

What will China’s plastic ban mean?

A recent report by the ‘i’ has revealed that China is to cut down on its single-use plastic over the next few years, with a potential knock-on effect for the industry.

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China’s cut down on plastic could be good or bad news for the industry

Smithers predicts the digital print for packaging market to grow by 13% annually by 2022, reaching over $22bn (£16.85bn), but this change could mean a lack of demand for the industry. On the other hand, it could be good news for those who are already working to develop sustainable packaging solutions.

Living up to its name as the world’s biggest producer of plastic waste, statistics by Statistica showed that the number of packaging units used in China reached 940.81 billion in 2018 – up from 736.26 in 2014.

Despite pledging to clamp down on its production of single use plastic, the China flexible packaging market is predicted by Mordor Intelligence to reach a value of $46.76bn (£35.80bn) by 2025.

All towns and cities in China will be expected to adhere to the ban by 2022, with markets and businesses selling fresh produce being given until 2025. Restaurants will also be required to reduce their total consumption of single-use plastic items by 30% by this time.

The ban includes single-use straws, plastic cutlery and utensils as well as delivery packages which will be given longer to remove from the supply chain.

There’s a huge need to find alternatives to plastic which naturally provides opportunities for the paper and board industry to develop new fibre-based solutions

Sustainability experts have commented on the news and say this ban will have a “knock-on effect” around the world, with the print, packaging and labelling industries making up a big part of this.

Metsä Board has recently launched a non-plastic barrier board that is recyclable and lightweight called the MetsäBoard Prime FBB EB.

Risto Auero, sales director in FSB for Metsä Board says that collection and recycling infrastructure systems need to develop further. He comments: “There’s a huge need to find alternatives to plastic which naturally provides opportunities for the paper and board industry to develop new fibre-based solutions.”

Discussing what the removal of plastic cutlery and utensils could mean for the industry, Auero says: “In general, when it comes to alternatives to plastic cups there are already many good alternatives.

“PE-coated cups are a good solution for replacing disposable plastic cups, as they typically contain only 10% or less plastic, and they could also be recycled in case the collection systems would be available/developed – this we are piloting in France with the industry.”



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