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European packaging producers are embracing circular economy, but few are ahead of legislation

Packaging Solutions

New research commissioned by material technologies business, Aquapak, with sustainable packaging producers and users in the UK, Italy and Germany, shows that European packaging businesses are committed to the circular economy, but few are acting ahead of legislation.

The study shows that the majority of businesses (85%) have a circular economy strategy which involves reusing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible, with 21% saying they will be fully circular within three years. Almost a quarter (24%) have a three to four year time frame for achieving circularity and a further 23% expect to meet this objective within four to five years. However, 11% said that they did not have such a strategy in place and a further 5% didn’t know.

With forthcoming legislation such as the revised European Commission’s Packaging and Packaging and Packaging Regulation (PPWR) as part of the circular economy package set to have a major impact on packaging and packaging design, the study also explored how this was affecting the rate of change in businesses as they seek to improve sustainability and circularity.

Just 20% of businesses said they are acting ahead of legislation and 45% said they respond quickly to new rules when they are announced. However, 24% described their rate of change as ‘medium’ and 10% as ‘very slow’.

Commenting on the findings, Mark Lapping, chief executive officer, said: ‘Our study shows that the European packaging producers is embracing the circular economy, with a focus on achieving full circularity. At Aquapak, we are supporting this goal by helping our customers use the world’s resources more effectively by reducing waste and increasing the reuse of valuable materials as part of the circular economy through new technologies which provide the functionality needed to protect products, whilst reducing the impact on the environment.’

Aquapak has developed Hydropol, a polymer based on PVOH, which can be successfully coated on to both paper and board, with proven gas and grease barrier properties, with additional functionality such as heat seal and increased paper sheet strength can also be imparted, making it suitable for a range of packaging uses such as bags and pouches.

The company has already proven that Hydropol coated paper is 100% repulpable in standard pulping systems and can be fully recycled and it proven to give real improvement when set against current regulations which allow the ‘recyclable’ label to be used if there is up to 15% unrecyclable material in the product. If littered Hydropol is biodegradable, compostable, as well as being non toxic and marine safe.


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