“Small actions can make the biggest difference, but we must not be complacent and as there is always more we can all do to reduce waste and recycle what we use”. This is behind the charge imposed on plastic carrier bags by the UK Environment Minister in England. The programme has been deemed an outstanding success since its introduction last October.
It seems that since the charge of £0.05 pence or €0.06 cents was imposed, there has been a reduction of around six billion bags supplied by supermarkets and large stores employing more than 250 employees in England. This equates to a reduction of 90% in just six months and is the equivalent of around 40,800 tonnes of plastic no longer being discarded after a single use.
The charge in England follows the introduction of a similar charge in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland in 2011, 2013 and 2014 respectively. Government Ministers have hailed the figures as a great success with the Environment Minister saying The Government Minister’s Department reckons we used to use an average of 140 bags per person annually and the average home has about 40 bags stashed away somewhere. I have to say that in our household we are now avid re-users of plastic carrier bags having acquired a large stock, which is now well above the quoted Government average, as well as using multi-use substantial shopping bags made from recycled materials. It has also changed my own personal shopping habits as I now always have an empty plastic carrier in a coat pocket when I venture out to the shops.
Growing demand for sustainable, recyclable, reusable packaging materials is putting pressure on brands
There are also losers, with one large plastic bag manufacturer in the North of England already out of business as a result of the charge. Forty employees lost their jobs at Nelson Packaging in March 2016 and the new legislation was blamed. The retailers have also lost an important source of marketing, since their bags were adorned with their brands and various promotional messages. But some more resourceful ones, particularly in the high end clothing and perfumery markets, are already starting to issue customers with recyclable paper and cardboard bags.
The success of the campaign has meant that attention of environmental campaigners has been turned to other areas where high levels of non-recyclable items are used. The focus is now on the paper cups used by large coffee shop chains where less than 1% of the staggering 2.5 billion cups thrown away each year in the UK, is being recycled because of the difficulty in extracting the plastic cup liner from the cardboard cup.
With its Range of Substrates, Nanography® Will Help Drive Sustainable Packaging Solutions
With retailers increasingly under pressure to look at the environmental impact of their products and find ways to reduce it before legislation, there are great opportunities for converters to offer alternative sustainable, recyclable containers. The ability of the Nanography® process to print onto a much wider range of sustainable and recyclable materials using FDA approved water-based NanoInk® formulations, will help to drive the change.
The Landa S10 Nanographic Printing® Press for Packaging
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