Friday, 9 November 2012

Recyclable versus Biodegradable plastics - what do you think?

One of the biggest problems for consumers is working out what is the best thing for the environment! Most plastic packaging is recyclable - but only some can be taken back to supermarkets. Then some packaging is biodegradable so is designed to disappear in landfill How are we supposed to know what goes where? Without specific legislation - companies are taking the initiative to come up with their own solutions. BUT that means we end up with a mish mash of materials all of which need to be dealt with in a different way. Biodegradable plastics still use fossil fuels and still go to landfill albeit temporarily. I don't think this is closed loop thinking it just muddies the water!! What do you think? John Lewis unveils biodegradable packaging 'fit for landfill' 8 November 2012, source edie newsroom John Lewis has introduced biodegradable polyethylene packaging across its bed linen and schoolwear lines, in what is thought to be a UK first. Related articles Zero waste to landfill for milk bottle manufacturer The material, which will replace conventional polyethylene, contains an additive biodegrade introduced during the manufacturing process which will break down with or without oxygen, heat or light, in 5-15 years - meaning it will still degrade even if sent to landfill. John Lewis packaging design & production manager Mark Gallen said the company had been researching more sustainable packaging materials with its suppliers, and believes this is a ground-breaking development. "We have already replaced PVC packaging with recyclable polyethylene ... while it is possible to recycle traditional plastic bags at some recycling centres, it is less common to be able to recycle this type of plastic at kerbside collection points meaning that most of it is thrown in the bin," he commented. "Until recycling facilities are more widely available, most people will throw the packaging away. We know that our customers want to reduce their environmental impact, and this new material makes it easy for them to do this." The retailer plans to roll out the packaging across other product lines including own-brand ready-made curtains next year. Following an initial six months of exclusive use, it will then make the technology behind the new packaging available to other retailers. John Lewis takes accountability for its waste arisings very seriously. Last month its recycling & waste operations manager Mike Walters told edie that the company was now focusing on end destination and keeping secondary materials in the UK wherever possible.

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