We want less plastic! And more of… what?

Yes, what do we want instead? We can’t always replace plastic with a renewable material. Then what about recycled plastic, more sustainable plastic that is efficiently recovered and that comes from an organised collection system? Does that sound a bit better?

Coca-Cola is in the news with their new line of bottles entirely made from recycled PET. Fantastic! Coca-Cola Sweden is during 2020 switching to only use PET bottles with 100% recycled material for their leading brands, Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite and Bonaqua, 40 SKUs.

This is not a small thing as using recycled material in food contact is a complex mission surrounded by of rules and regulations. The Swedish deposit system really helps here as it makes the recycling stream of PET bottles relatively pure.
Beverage bottles, and cans, are here collected and recycled separately and can in theory be turned back into new cans and bottles. Today around 85% of the distributed bottles are returned and recycled. Normally recycled PET tends to be cloudy due to unintended mixes and potentially tainted by other random plastic in the recycle process. This is avoided in a controlled stream like this.

In a recent report from McKinsey, “The drive toward sustainability in packaging—beyond the quick wins”, this is discussed, among other things. The report concludes that to successfully address the recyclability and waste challenges more collaboration is needed along the value chain. To manage increased recycling new infrastructure needs to be built and more closed system must be employed.

A closed and dedicated deposit system clearly makes recycling more efficient as it is separate and, closed. The Swedish deposit system is managed by Returpack, an organisation owned jointly by retailers and fillers together. When the deposit system was created also packaging converters were involved which makes it a good example of an efficient recycling structure.

Another brand owner who is blazing new trails in this field is Nestlé. The company is seriously investing in the development of new packaging concepts in their effort to have 100% of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025. The newly inaugurated Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences is unique and aims to support the process. The Institute is going to do its bit of development of functional and environmentally friendly packaging solutions and to address plastic packaging waste.

Nestlé is now investing a staggering €2 billion to explore the possibilities to widen the market for food-grade recycled plastics. The Institute will be involved but the main investment will be in driving the market for food-grade recycled plastics by boosting demand and by being ready to pay a premium.
They are now demanding 2 million tons over a period of time and are willing to pay for it, to create a market. Brilliant!

Plastic is at present needed, especially in the food industry to minimise food waste, and it is possible to create a circular economy also for plastics. To get there a system for collecting and recycling plastic must be in place. But there needs to be a corresponding demand as well. Today it is more expensive to use recycled materials than virgin. But with a higher demand and larger volumes the price should go down and thereby generate more demand.
Hopefully a process that creates a virtuous cycle spinning us towards a circular and healthy economy.

These are great examples of steps in the right direction to increase demand for recycled plastic materials. This will also drive the development of efficient systems for processing.
But, in the end, the consumers are going to do a big part of the job. We must not forget to inform and motivate to sort and return the empty packaging through this efficient system.

Innovation shortcut

I see that 60% of the people in the UK only drink one glass of water a day and only 20% drink more than two. Source: Kantar Worldpanel. As a rule of thumb we need to get 2 litres of fluid a day to stay happy and in balance. It has then rather to be two proper jugs to meet the required amount. I don’t think the British, in this aspect, are very much different than the rest of at least north Europe.

Life is luckily not all water but water drinking could be made more interesting. For Green Sheepinstance by using more exciting packaging that gets your attention and also makes sense. I think that Chicago based Green Sheep Water are making an interesting move by launching an aluminium water bottle. Half a litre is the size and it quite stands out in the shelf, or wherever you find it.

Their point is that this is a more sustainable packaging solution as aluminium is indefinitely recyclable compared to PET and other materials. That is as long as people return the empties…  Besides that it catches the attention at POS and could maybe even prove practical to refill.

I very much like the idea of an innovation shortcut by using an existing idea from another category and apply it on your product. Voila! You have a new and innovative product. Just by being inspired from another field.

The consumer is king

Bouteille_Wattwiller_a_personnaliser-ea5ffThe consumer is the final POS decision maker, now also made able to put the final touch to the label according to mood, need or whim. That is what I call an individual water bottle.

Wattwiller, French mineral water brand, made labels with left out space for the consumer to add their own text or draw pictures.

When making creative packaging it isn’t always you that have to be the creative one. Sometimes you can apparently get off the hook by letting the consumer do the job.

http://www.wattwiller.com/Bouteille-Wattwiller-a

See through Carton

Elopak is together with Sainsbury’s launching a see through Pure Pak carton for juice. Four transparent windows placed on one side of the 1 litre package gives the consumer control over dosing the desired portion. The consumer can also easily visually see when it’s
time for replenishment of the home stock. Plus the more subconscious satisfaction
you get when actually seeing what’s in the package you are buying. http://bit.ly/qnrpUS

Now there is only the beverage can left to have a hole drilled for us to steal a look at the brew.

The bigger the better…?

We are getting bigger, no doubt. This obesity pandemic is putting pressure on health care systems throughout the world. There is obviously a cost related to this, both an individual personal one and an actual monetary.

The medical costs are easier to distinguish and calculate. According to McKinsey the United Kingdom spent more than £4 billion on obesity-related medical costs in 2007. The United States currently spends about $160 billion which is twice what it did a decade ago.

Now these numbers only represent a fraction of the pandemic’s total economic burden on societies. The graph below specifies the different actual costs to society and the individual and shows the final cost which is a stunning $450 billion annually in the US.



Packaging can support diets simply by sizing up portions of adequate size. It can of course also carry messages to encourage the person who needs a push to limit intake and get away from some weight.

Then I see the new cup size to be launched by Starbucks. This can’t be meant to support a healthy diet. Even if you fill it with something as neutral as tap water it is simply too much for the human to stomach.

I assume it’s meant for sharing…

 

Twist and recycle

I think Evian was the first one out, now about 10 years ago. I am thinking of the PET bottle for water that was structured in a way that made it easier for the consumer to crush the empty bottle into a handy piece of plastic to dispose. But I haven’t seen a lot since, except for the I Lohas bottle from Coca-Cola Japan. http://bit.ly/Xretb

It is a shame because it is such a good idea, to have a packaging solution made for easy disposal. The I Lohas bottle scores even more points by being both light weight and made from plant material. I think the main point is that it is pre made to be easily twisted and compressed into a neat chunk to dispose. This is a packaging feature that strongly underlines the sustainable qualities of a product.