The Impact of Removing Problematic Materials in Packaging

Naked Label-Less Sprite Bottle.
Naked Label-Less Sprite Bottle.

The Consumer Goods Forum’s Golden Design Rule to remove problematic elements from packaging targets elements like undetectable carbon black, PVC, EPS, PS, PETG in rigid plastic packaging, and oxo-degradable materials.

Its implementation promises profound environmental benefits and aligns with global sustainability goals.

You can also read: Golden Design Rules: Enhancing PET Recycling Through Design.

No Undetectable Carbon Black

Carbon black, often used in packaging for its coloring effect, poses recycling challenges due to its undetectability in sorting processes. Removing it aids recycling facilities in accurately sorting plastics, thereby improving recycling rates and reducing landfill waste.

Eliminating PVC and PVDC

PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) and PVDC (Polyvinylidene Chloride) are known for their durability and versatility in packaging. However, these materials are challenging to recycle and can release harmful chemicals during production and disposal. By eliminating them, the packaging industry moves towards safer, more recyclable materials.

Banning EPS and PS

EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) and PS (Polystyrene) are common in food packaging and protective packaging due to their lightweight and insulating properties. However, they are not widely recyclable and are often found in environmental litter. Banning these materials could significantly reduce plastic pollution, especially in marine environments.

No PETG in Rigid Plastic Packaging

PETG, a glycol-modified version of PET, is often used in rigid packaging for its clarity and toughness. However, it poses recycling challenges as it can contaminate PET recycling streams. Removing PETG from rigid plastic packaging will enhance the quality and value of recycled PET.

Avoiding Oxo-Degradable Plastics

Oxo-degradable plastics, designed to break down in the presence of oxygen and light, have been marketed as biodegradable. However, they fragment into microplastics rather than fully degrading, contributing to plastic pollution. Eliminating these problematic materials is crucial for protecting ecosystems.

Case of Study: removing problematic materials

In a bid to enhance recycling efficiency and minimize packaging use, Sprite is launching a label-free bottle experiment in the UK. This eliminates the need to separate them from the bottles during the recycling process. While existing labels are fully recyclable, stripping them off helps to reduce the amount of packaging material used overall.

This initiative will see the removal of traditional labels from a total of 10,000 bottles, split evenly between Sprite and Sprite Zero, each with a capacity of 500 mL. The bottles will feature a raised logo on the front and laser-etched product details on the reverse.

The removal of these problematic elements is a significant stride towards environmentally responsible packaging. It not only aids the recycling process but also pushes manufacturers towards innovative, sustainable alternatives. As the industry aligns with these guidelines, we can anticipate a reduction in plastic pollution, an increase in the efficiency of recycling systems, and a move towards a circular economy. This Golden Design Rule not only addresses environmental concerns but also guides the industry towards a sustainable future, balancing ecological responsibility with practical packaging needs.

By Juliana Montoya | March 14, 2024

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