For well over a decade now, we have been researching alternative packaging materials for our Infinity Foods "own label" range.
We are well aware of the negative environmental impact on our planet caused by the irresponsible use of and dumping of plastics in our oceans and elsewhere.
In light of raised public awareness of the issues surrounding single use plastics, we have redoubled our efforts into deciding the best thing for us to do as a company.
Many years ago, we were one of the first companies in the UK to trial a wood pulp based and biodegradable packaging for some of our lines.
At the time we were unhappy with the quality of the material so decided to stop using it.
Whilst some companies have recently started to pack their products into similar materials, after discussions with local recycling firms, people within the packaging industry, OPRL(on pack recycling label) and recycling guidance charity RECOUP, we have decided that a move to a material such as this would be a false step.
We have taken our time and considered this decision carefully.
We are keen to make a change, but we want to do it at the right time and for the right reasons.
The recycling infrastructure in the UK is at present not functioning in a way that would make using a compostable or degradable packaging meaningful, for several reasons.
Most of these materials are only industrially compostable.
Not all councils offer garden waste collections, which is where industrially compostable packaging should in theory be disposed of.
Of those that do, only some will accept ANY bio-plastics in the bins.
There is no way to tell if a plastic is compostable unless it is visually inspected for a logo stating its compliance.
Any plastics found in garden waste will in all probability be removed, either mechanically or manually, as they will be seen as a contaminant.
Sadly, we have been told by the many people we have spoken to in the recycling industry that the truth behind industrially compostable plastics, is that they are rarely, if at all, composted.
We are also aware that some companies are claiming that compostable plastics should be put in with your plastics recycling. PLEASE DON’T DO THIS!
We have been categorically assured that this shouldn’t be done.
Even EU Bio-plastics, who certify the usage of the seedling logo that you will find on some bags have themselves admitted that bio-plastics cannot be recycled with other plastics.
So, with all things being as they are, we have decided that our best course of action is to aim for something positive, different, but hopefully achievable.
We are currently trialling a polyethylene based material, which should be 100% recyclable using the carrier bag recycling points at large stores.
If things improve with regard to the collection and recycling of alternatives in the future, we will of course revisit this matter.
We have been advised that this decision is a sensible one and that the most important thing for companies to do at present is to remain as educated as possible and above all be honest about the materials that they are using.
As we have always done, we will continue to ensure that we are aware of any developments relating to this important issue.
On a positive note, our research has actually made us aware of lots of ideas and innovation within the sector which gives us great hope for the future.
Things are changing.
We hope that this statement will bring some clarity regarding our plans for the future of the packaging we use.