All boxed up
Sustainability and environmentally sound practices are more important than ever for both customers and retailers. David Corscadden examines the moves the leading companies in packaging and recycling have taken to help meet this growing demand
14 October 2013
AT A GLANCE: PACKAGING AND RECYCLING
- Tetra Pak is the world’s leading food processing and packaging solutions company
- The Tetra Pak portfolio now contains over 230 types of packages
- To make informed choices on recycling, 37% of consumers regularly search for environmental logos on food
- 54% of consumers now trust environmental labels, compared with 37% in 2011
- During this year alone, over 25,000 tonnes of WEEE and 472 tonnes of batteries were collected and recycled in Ireland
- In 2012, WEEE Ireland was the leading player when it came to electronic recycling in Ireland, with almost 8kg recycled per person
With refuge charges increasing and people becoming more aware of the impact that sending waste to landfills has on the planet, customers are growing more concerned with the types and amount of packaging they use. This is a concern that in turn puts a bigger demand on retailers to meet customers’ requirements for environmentally sound packaging solutions. What to do with the packaging once it has been used is another issue that both customers and retailers have to face.
Happily for retailers, the industry has seen great innovation in creating packaging that not only meets the environmental concerns of customers but also makes both customers and retailers’ lives much easier. It is not only the packaging itself that has seen innovation in recent months, the process of recycling has been made easier for consumers and retailers through product development and research into alternative packaging solutions.
The full package
Tetra Pak is the world’s leading food processing and packaging solutions company since its establishment in 1961 when founder, Ruben Rausing, unveiled the first aseptic carton: the tetrahedron-shaped Tetra Classic Aseptic. This game-changing package, and the aseptic process used to fill it, revolutionised the milk industry. For the first time, milk could be packed hygienically and stored for up to a year without refrigeration or preservatives, and without losing any of its nutrients.
That innovative spirit has remained central to Tetra Pak’s business. It has been at the cutting edge of packaging design ever since – from designing the carton that is now the best-selling drinks carton in the world, the Tetra Brik Aseptic, to creating the first carton for food products traditionally found in cans, jars and pouches, Tetra Recart.
Tetra Pak’s approach to innovation is as much about evolution as revolution; enhancing and improving designs to make sure they deliver ever better performance for consumers, producers and retailers. In keeping with this, one of the most recent additions to the Tetra Pak portfolio, which now contains over 230 types of packages, is the Tetra Brik Aseptic Edge carton. It combines all the advantages of the efficient, rectangular original with next-generation functionality, look and performance.
Available in both a 1 litre format and a 250ml portion pack, the new design features a sloping top panel, allowing room for a larger opening and screw cap: for the 1 litre pack, the LightCap 30 cap; for the 250ml portion pack, the HeliCap 23 cap.
These new, easy-open closures deliver great functionality for the consumer. The larger openings allow for smoother, more controlled pouring in the 1 litre format and drinking in the 250ml format, at a comfortable, ergonomic angle.
The 1 litre pack with LightCap 30 has been approved by the Swedish Rheumatism Association (SRA) for use by people with reduced hand strength, including the elderly, children and people with rheumatism or other injuries. The 250ml pack has also been ranked as a top performing pack by children and their parents. They chose it because it’s easy to hold, carry and doesn’t spill.
As well as consumer benefits, the new design enhances performance for producers and retailers. Improved stacking, with the top panel angled so the screw cap fits perfectly under the pack above, drives efficiency in distribution and storage, reducing transport costs and emissions.
Studying the market
Last month, Tetra Pak released the findings of its fifth bi-annual environment survey, highlighting a rising demand for renewable materials and environmental labelling among consumers worldwide. Recycling remains a fundamental expectation of both consumers and food industry stakeholders the study explains.
This year’s survey sees a significant rise in the attitude towards renewable materials among food industry stakeholders. Those surveyed ranked the use of bio-based materials as one of the most important environmental trends shaping the future of beverage packaging.
The report also identified a growing consumer demand for more environmental information. In order to make informed choices, 37% of consumers regularly search for environmental logos on food packaging and 54% of consumers now trust environmental labels, compared with 37% in 2011. Sorting and setting aside packaging for recycling remains the number one environmental activity among consumers, as it has been since 2005.
"The findings of this year’s report reinforce the importance of putting environment at the heart of our strategic agenda," says Dennis Jönsson, Tetra Pak president and CEO.
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Ireland is a not for profit organisation, founded by producers of electrical and electronic appliances in order to comply with the legal obligations imposed by the WEEE Directive 2002/96/EC. WEEE Ireland will organise the treatment and recycling of waste electrical and electronic equipment and batteries and accumulators from authorised collection points, on behalf of its producer members.
Results released recently for its annual report by WEEE Ireland, the Irish compliance scheme for electrical and battery recycling, have shown that 2012 was an extremely successful year for Ireland when it came to diverting e-waste and batteries from landfill. This year alone over 25,000 tonnes of WEEE and 472 tonnes of batteries were collected and recycled in Ireland.
In 2012, WEEE Ireland was the leading player when it came to electronic recycling in Ireland, with almost 8kg recycled per person compared to the EU target of 4kg.
Irish retailers play a key role in the take back of batteries and WEEE. WEEE Ireland provides a WEEE collection service for retailers in their collection areas. Consumers are also able to bring waste portable batteries back to any retailer selling batteries, while electrical retailers facilitate one-for-one, like-for-like take back on all EEE sold in store.
Thanks to the successful recycling awareness campaign ‘Spread a Little Sunshine’, where WEEE Ireland teamed up with LauraLynn to try and recycle as many waste batteries as possible whilst also creating a fund for the children’s hospice, consumer involvement in portable battery recycling has continued to grow. Over 300 special collection events were held by WEEE Ireland last year in its collection areas, all in conjunction with local authorities and many in partnership with retailers who are keen to increase their green credentials and support community initiatives. These events are vital to the collection stream for WEEE Ireland and help to drive awareness about recycling of WEEE and battery waste in the respective communities.
WEEE Ireland is working towards a 2019 target of helping Ireland to achieve 65% (approximately 12kg per person) take back of e-waste from the Irish market on behalf of its members – the importers and manufacturers of electrical appliances and batteries. Similarly as battery recycling targets increase, WEEE Ireland will be working to increase awareness amongst consumers and continue to support its retailer partners.
Leo Donovan, CEO of WEEE Ireland, said: "WEEE Ireland would like to take this chance to praise the people of Ireland for their recycling efforts. It is fantastic that, as a country, we have been doing so well when it comes to WEEE and battery recycling. However, we want to remind people of the hazards associated with placing both WEEE and waste batteries in the general bin. It is crucial that WEEE is handed over to an authorised collection point, such as your electrical retailer, to ensure that appliances are recycled correctly."
For further information, visit WEEE Ireland’s website, recyclefree.ie.
Thinking outside the box
AES, Bord na Móna’s resource recovery business and a leading provider of waste bin collection and recycling services has announced a new innovate waste collection service that promises to provide customers with a greener, quieter, customer friendly service.
AES was purchased by the Bord na Móna Group in 2007 to strengthen the company’s resource recovery operations and supporting the company vision, ‘New Contract with Nature’. AES operates to the highest environmental standards, providing more recycling options and actively encouraging its customers to help divert waste from landfill. AES Bord na Móna’s commitment to divert waste from landfill has been underpinned by its significant €6 million investment in an innovative organic and food waste composting plant in Drehid, North Kildare.
The new service will see a fleet of new split body trucks, which will enable collection of both refuse and recycling in one collection which will reduce the number of collection trucks on the road per annum. The ability to collect both general refuse and recycle waste in the one collection, means collections will take place fortnightly for the residents in Offaly, Westmeath and Roscommon serviced by AES. This will replace the long-standing weekly collections, which alternate between general waste and recycling.
Speaking at the launch, John Daly, managing director, AES Bord na Móna, commented: "At AES we are committed to delivering the latest innovative and eco-friendly waste management solutions to our customers. We are delighted to announce this fantastic development, which will provide a new user-friendly service for the 12,000 homes that we serve in Offaly, Westmeath and Roscommon. "
Labelling the market
For over 15 years, Cafe Brands has supplied the catering industry in Ireland with a wide range of products including branded labels, food safety labels, own design labels and also branded and unbranded biodegradable packaging.
The company can develop, manufacture and distribute a full range of completely compostable food packaging and catering disposables. Made from natural, annually renewable plants like corn, sugarcane and potatoes, its range of 100% compostable packaging can turn to compost in just 12 weeks after use. Cafe Brands’ award-winning products are low-carbon, made from renewable or recycled materials, and all can be recycled along with food waste.
The company supplies products to caterers of all sizes, from independent cafés right through to multi-site contract caterers. With a dedicated and friendly customer services team, Cafe Brands can advise customers on the best products for their business. Its aim is to assist customers increase product sales and improve customer loyalty through better product presentation.
Customers can choose from a wide range of labels and packaging that can be purchased in small quantities or, alternatively, Cafe Brands in-house design team can customise any product with the customer’s company details, colours and branding, specifically to their requirements.
Its free on loan software, Label Logic, is the easiest and most effective method to create great looking labels and instant branding. The systems allows retailers to let customers know where their food is coming from with the simple but effective programme that enables you to label products quickly, efficiently and with style, whilst complying with legislation.
Elizabeth O’Reilly, compliance manager, WEEE Ireland
What services does WEEE Ireland offer retailers within the supermarket and convenience sectors?
We offer a range of services to help retailers comply with the WEEE and battery regulations and improve the national collection rate for recycling these wastes. This includes online registration for retailers of electrical equipment, automotive and industrial batteries as required under the regulations, battery boxes, small waste lamp and large FL collection ‘liteboxes’ legal notices, posters, stickers and other promotional items informing customers about take back in-store and our new branded WEEE cages which we are rolling out in our collections to encourage more retailers to take back small WEEE from customers. We also offer public collection day promotions in partnership with local retailers to help with awareness and community engagement.
What are the advantages to retailers of using such services?
Most importantly they are free of charge. They are funded by the producers of these appliances who have set up WEEE Ireland to organise collection and recycling of e-waste and batteries as part of their environmental responsibilities. They help retailers meet their legal obligations to take back WEEE and waste batteries and lamps and to inform customers of those services. We also hope that they are more than just an obligation but part of a greener way of doing business which pays off in the longer term by attracting customers to visit stores that offer these recycling facilities. The benefits to WEEE Ireland and the Irish recycling record are immense as retailers play a bigger part in WEEE and battery collection volumes here than elsewhere in Europe.
WEEE Ireland has established the ‘Spread a little sunshine’ battery recycling scheme to help raise funds for the LauraLynn children’s hospice. How successful has this proved?
It has been a huge success to date as we achieved the Irish 25% waste battery collection target in 2011 and 2012 and it is helping us build momentum toward the 2015 45% targets. It motivates people to collect portable waste batteries for recycling, not just as a green activity but one that helps some really special children and their families as they face immense challenges together. Every retail store that has a blue WEEE Ireland battery box acts as an accessible collection point and every battery counts towards a donation to the LauraLynn charity. To date we have donated more than €45,000 and we hope to exceed that next year when the final count for 2013 is in.
Why is it essential that batteries/other electrical waste are disposed of properly and what are the negative consequences of failing to do so?
There are a few aspects to this answer, one is that electrical waste and batteries, particularly the older types can contain heavy metals, chemicals and other materials that need to be managed in a responsible way at the end of life in order to protect human and environmental health. The other aspect is the realisation that manufacturing and other resource intensive activities can be made more efficient by returning the resources in our waste back into the process, creating a closed loop scenario and limiting the raw material extraction and inevitable environmental footprint this entails.
Repak and packaging compliance – Myths debunked
The Irish Waste Management Packaging Regulations (2007) are complex and as a result there are many myths about packaging recycling compliance and the role of Repak. Repak has tried to debunk some of the most common myths.
I recycle all the waste on my premises so I don’t need to pay Repak.
False: Recycling the packaging that terminates on your premises or back door waste is a requirement of the packaging regulations. However membership of Repak is about meeting your separate obligation to help fund the recycling of packaging that your customers take home on products you sell to them. This is called producer responsibility.
Recycling is free?
No: Recycling is costly and the income from selling these materials is positive, but this amount varies wildly and does not cover the cost of the collecting and sorting process.
Compliance is only for very large companies.
The rules for packaging compliance are set out in the Irish Waste Management Packaging Regulations 2007 and are governed by two variables – the turnover of the company and the amount of packaging they supply on the goods they sell. These are known as the ‘De Minimis’ or the threshold after which a company is obligated, which is a turnover of over eur*1 million and supplying over 10 tonnes of packaging on the goods you sell or supply.
Self-compliance only means registering with the local authority.
Self-compliance is the alternative to joining Repak. Registration with the respective local authority, per premises, is a minimum fee of €500 rising up to €15,000 but this is only one of a number of obligations. Businesses are also required to accept back used packaging supplied on the goods they sold or packaging of a similar material not only from customers but from the general public. This means stores need to have staff trained on collecting, storing and recording used packaging onsite whilst managing waste contractors and ensuring they have dedicated additional space to hold returned packaging.
Free riders never get caught.
False: Since the introduction of the regulations there have been over 60 businesses prosecuted for non-compliance. The fines which can be on average €15,000 per business excluding court costs are generally multiples of the Repak fee. In addition to these costs, law breaking companies also face the negative publicity generated through court reports and local media.
Repak will assist with any queries companies have regarding compliance with the packaging regulations and offers free advice to any potentially obligated company. To check your compliance obligations, call Repak on 01-4670190 and ask for the Repak sales department.