Axion launches packaging design service

Axion has launched a new Design for Recycling service to help increase the recyclability of plastic packaging.

The service is aimed at a range of stakeholders in the food and beverage supply chain. This includes packaging designers, food manufacturers, brand owners and retailers, who all have a vested interest in increasing the recyclability of plastic packaging and addressing the growing global problem of pollution from short life, high profile products.

The service also supports those working with industry initiatives to increase the recycling of plastics and develop end markets for recycled plastics, including: Courtauld 2025, the Plastics Industry Recycling Action Plan (PIRAP), the European Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD) and the new Plastics Economy Project.

According to latest WRAP figures, in 2016 nearly 70% of the UK’s plastic packaging waste that was collected for recycling was exported, mainly to the Far East. With the new National Sword initiative coming into effect in China, this level of export is unsustainable. To ensure recycling targets are met, ‘design for recycling’ will play a vital role in developing a more robust domestic recycling infrastructure.

Richard McKinlay, Axion’s head of circular economy, says, “Axion’s service is based on in-depth understanding and practical experience of the resource recovery sector, including the design, build and operation of its own plastics recycling facilities. Existing products or new packaging designs are reviewed to give an expert evaluation of the recyclability.

“During the packaging design process, advice is given on material choices and product design aspects that affect the recyclability and value at end of life. Our analysis helps clients to understand how their packaging will be treated at end of life and how this is impacted by the design of the pack.

“By identifying the characteristics that reduce the material’s value at end of life, we can suggest alternative choices that can be more readily recycled.”

The company does not use a pre-defined tool, so the approach to each situation is to ensure an optimised design can be achieved to reach the balance between function and recyclability.

Increased recycling of plastic packaging waste in the UK would, he argues, reduces the risk of it getting into the world’s oceans. However, this requires the packaging to be ‘desirable for recyclers.’

“To encourage investment in recycling plants, operators need to know that they will get sufficient yield and quality. So, the producers putting packaging on the market that allows them to achieve those targets would help to stimulate the market,” McKinlay concludes.

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