Survey highlights urgent need for more environmentally friendly packaging

The results of a new survey showing that consumers in the UK would favour a tax on plastic packaging perhaps comes as little surprise.

Surveygoo, which questioned 1,000 consumers on the issue, found that just over half of those asked said they were in favour of additional charges being placed on the use of plastic packaging of food products. Though figures for the US found lower support for specialist taxes (33% favouring the move), such statistics are hard to ignore in terms of how manufacturers approach their product development.

As we have previously reported, this is an issue that has dominated headlines over the past year in the wake of the Blue Planet II series. The BBC documentary shone a spotlight on the urgent need to significantly bolster environmental protection measures within the food processing chain over the intense use of plastics, and the series appears to have had a considerable impact.

Confectionery is an obvious candidate for making production improvements, with many supermarkets and stores still remaining relatively reliant on plastics for major display units and shelving promotional displays.

These results come against a backdrop of more than a third of food sold in the EU being packaged in plastic, that creates over 800,000 tonnes of plastic packaging waste each year – much of which is not biodegradable, and ends up immediately in landfill.

It is encouraging that the confectionery and packaging industries have been responding on the issue with increasing creativity. One such example of this is AR Packaging’s latest project with Nestlé for its KitKat Senses product, which deliberately created a plastic-free packaging design made completely from cartonboard, with no additional outer plastic packaging required for the confectionery.

Companies in the UK such as Plamil with its So Free dairy free chocolate range has also made a conscious decision to ensure that its products are not packaged in plastic as part of its overall environmental credentials.

There has also been progress made from equipment manufacturers, with one such example being that of Lareka in the Netherlands. The packaging machinery business has formed close links with designers of environmentally friendly packaging materials, and it has also worked with its clients in order to ensure that such alternatives can be used effectively with its range of equipment.

While such initiatives are encouraging, there is some considerable distance to go in tackling the issue of shedding a greater volume of plastics used within the confectionery and wider food market.

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