Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Sustainable Packaging - 10th May 2012

I have the pleasure of speaking at a Seminar on Packaging Sustainability at the IOM3 in Grantham on Thursday 10th May 2012. 
I started out as a physicist, then slid over to a PhD in Polymer Physics, and onto work for ICI on Polyethylene, Polypropylene, PET and PEN.  During that time I increasingly appreciated the contribution that polymers made to our world, and how much packaging adds to it too.  Packaging, particularly plastic packaging, is seen as a modern scurge to be eliminated.  The good it does in protecting in the value of materials in transit, particularly food, is never mentioned.  The potential for further value from the materials through reuse, recycling or energy extraction is rarely mentioned for anything but glass (and don't get me started on why PP and PET are better than glass).

It is a key, and emotive issue.  But to get real sustainable environmental improvement we need to focus on the real issues, and not just the emotive ones.  The percentage of oil used to make plastics is about 7% last time I checked - of which packaging is only a part.  We burn the rest for heat and in cars.  Of course you can use plastics, and then burn them for heat.  The real issue is use of oil in heating and transport.

Of course with all packaging we should also be aiming to reduce the use (or weight), increase reuse and recycling - and this is not just environmental sense, it is good business sense.  There is no law that says that sustainable packaging has to be a cost to a business when compared to standard packaging, though suppliers may try to convince you to pay a sustainability premium
Anyway, that will be the general tone of my presentation - I'll put it up here when it is finished.

No comments: