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MPMA director sheds light on packaging industry

Speaking at Packaging Innovations, MPMA director and chief executive, William Boyd told delegates that the packaging industry needs to “resist the demonisation of packaging.”

He went on to state that the industry needs to signal more clearly that it shares the same environmental goals and aspirations as the government and the public.

According to Boyd, the industry also needs to communicate in a much more effective and constant way the benefits packaging brings to consumers, legislators, MPs and MEPs and articulate steps taken to minimise packaging’s impact on the environment.

He also explained that support is needed for the revision of the Packaging Waste Recovery Note system (PRNs) to provide increased funding for communication to consumers and appropriate investment in collection and recycling systems in order to prevent ‘leakage’ of used packaging into the wider environment.

Boyd said: “As an industry we have failed to communicate sufficiently the rationale for having packaging in the first place and the environmental benefits and savings that packaging brings to society.”

Reminding his audience that packaging conserves far more resources than it uses, he questioned how the language attributed to much single use packaging has become more suited to an existential threat to the planet than an environmental issue which has assumed centre stage in the British political, media and regulatory world.

“The amount of packaging used in the UK has remained virtually unchanged for the last ten years despite significant increases in consumer consumption,” he said.

“Packaging at the end of its useful life – so called packaging waste – represents a usable and available resource for recycling and recovery – including, as appropriate, energy from waste. It’s less than 20% of household waste and the small amount of unrecovered material is less than 3% of annual landfilled waste.

“We’ve been working hard for decades to reduce the impact of our products on the environment by reducing energy consumption, material usage, and landfill, whilst designing them to be able to be effectively disposed of at the end of their life.

“We’ve risen to the challenge of year on year increases in recycling targets and designed and funded innovative campaigns to increase recycling rates further: such as the highly effective Metal Matters and Every Can Counts campaign, funded by the metal packaging supply chain and local authorities.

“As an industry we operate in a fiercely competitive supply chain with constant pressure to innovate, drive down cost and meet our responsibilities to all our various stakeholders and that includes providing an adequate return on investment.

“We accept that the packaging supply chain has a responsibility to contribute more to dealing with packaging once it used and we support the revision of the Packaging Waste Recovery Note system (PRNs) to provide increased funding for communication to consumers and appropriate investment in collection and recycling systems in order to prevent ‘leakage’ of used packaging into the wider environment.”

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