PFF Packaging is one of the UK’s largest independent manufacturers of plastic packaging for food. The material plays an invaluable role in helping to feed the nation, and yet it is frequently demonised as one of the greatest threats to the environment.
If this plastic packaging is disposed of correctly, it can be reused, recycled or recovered for energy. And it’s a hard-working material that supports the food-chain from multiple perspectives.
Not only does it protect food from airborne and contact substances, but it also preserves food for longer shelf life. The material enables the retail of a vast array of products from meat and poultry to soups, yoghurts and frozen foods. It makes it easier for stocks to be replenished and easier to pack into bags to take home. To feed a growing population in the UK, more food will be needed, at a faster rate. Put simply, we cannot have a sustainable food supply chain without plastic packaging and some alternatives are not the ‘good guys’ that they are perceived to be.
Part of the solution is to design products responsibly and sympathetically, reducing plastic content without compromising on its performance. At PFF, we work with clients to minimise packaging. Our highly experienced Key Account Managers, Innovation Team and Design Studio impart expert advice on how to remodel packaging to reduce plastic content. A similar approach is followed for brand new products entering the marketplace.
A typical example is where PFF reduced the amount of plastic packaging for yoghurt pots, by more than 65%. A tamper-evident cup and lid were replaced by a lightweight plastic inlet and a printed cardboard wrap-around banderol. Desto offers the advantages of plastic and paperboard containers with a significant reduction of plastic content when compared to other formats such as injection moulded packaging. The two materials separate easily for recycling and Desto is exempt from the Plastic Packaging Tax 2022.
PFF takes its environmental responsibility very seriously. We send zero waste to landfill. The production waste that we do not recycle in-house is diverted to Refuse Derived Fuel facilities both in the UK and Europe. Once there, it is processed and converted into energy for heat networks and electricity.
While both manufacturers and consumers must take our responsibility to recycle seriously and encourage others to do the same, local authorities need to be transparent about where Britain’s waste ends up and its end-use.
Looking to the future, the UK Government must work closely with the industry to make a substantial investment in creating a closed-circle process for collection, recycling and energy production from waste. Work needs to be done now on initiatives such as heat networks for new housing.
The manufacturing process for plastic packaging for food has a lower carbon footprint than some other materials that are perceived to be ‘greener’ by consumers. Stopping its use will not of itself solve climate change. Plastic packaging needs to be valued as a resource, used wisely and disposed of responsibly for reuse, recycling or energy recovery. It is a full circle. If we can get this right – and quickly – then we may yet save and preserve this beautiful world.