Plastic and Paper Packaging
Our most frequently asked plastic and paper questions answered below…
WHY DO WE USE PLASTIC IN OUR PACKAGING?
We are a manufacturer of ice cream packaging and we use both plastic and paper in our production. We use plastic or polypropylene (PP) because it is a safe material for storing ice cream. It is resistant to moisture and extreme temperatures, and it is safe for food storage, it is also tough & lightweight to transport. Polypropylene as a material is also cost effective and strong enough to withstand various processes ie packing, distribution and stacking in a freezer.
CAN THE POLYPROPYLENE WE USE BE RECYCLED?
Our plastic is graded as N05 which means it is ‘widely recyclable where facilities exist’. Polypropylene can be recycled into many things such as gardening materials, clothing, storage bins and road equipment. Our plastic tubs are also reusable and are dishwasher friendly. We have also have customers who reuse their ice cream containers as storage boxes or as planters. We love seeing how you like to repurpose your containers.
IS THERE RECYCLED POLYPROPYLENE AVAILABLE TO MAKE OUR CONTAINERS?
We are currently seeing recycled content used in drink bottles are this is a different type of plastic, Polyethylene Terephthalate or PET as it is also known. This is the most common type of plastic picked up in the recycling process by most local authorities. However, in the ice cream sector there is limited availability of food grade recycled plastic ready for use. This is because there are several legal and technical requirements that need to be met before recycled plastic can be used in close contact with food. Turning plastic into a usable food grade material is not a simple process as it relies heavily on having compliant local collection, sorting facilities and chemical recycling. Food contact and non-food contact polypropylene would need be separated in the sorting process, anything which could contaminate the product including printing inks would need to be removed to meet the standards set. More investment is required in the collection and recycling process to allow this process to become common practice as this is a very difficult process currently.
WHAT ABOUT THE PLASTIC PACKAGING TAX?
From the 1st April 2022 a plastic packaging tax came into force to encourage the use of recycled plastics. Any plastic packaging which contains less than 30% recycled content is taxed at £200 per tonne. The products we produce does not contain more than 30% recycled content for the reasons mentioned above. However, as business we are committed to producing packaging which can be recycle and being as sustainable in our business as we can and reduce our carbon footprint.
IS PAPER PACKAGING BETTER?
Paper packaging still has its own challenges in the recycling process. It also has some environmental issues with some paper being sourced by deforestation rather than paper which is specifically grown for manufacturing. Paper packaging will work for certain type of ice cream packaging but it is not strong enough for larger tubs. However, most of these paper tubs have a PE plastic lining (polyethylene) which is required to ensure the product can withstand freezing and to prevent leakage. In the recycling process, paper is broken down into a pulp but as PE is water resistant it is difficult to break down and separate the lining for reuse. Therefore, paper can be more difficult to recycle than plastic in some cases.
WHAT ARE OUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
We are continuously working with our suppliers on both our plastic and paper packaging and try out new material options that come on to the market. We already minimise the consumption of all the raw materials we use including water, fuel and energy and we aim to be carbon net zero by 2030.
Please contact us with any further questions you may have on our packaging.