The packaging industry is becoming increasingly regulated, driven by legislation passed on a national and Europe-wide scale. Much of this is driven by the need to reduce the amount of waste we produce and limit our use of resources. The latest figures from the government's waste adviser, Wrap, reveal that food, drink and packaging waste in the UK supply chain is about 6.6m tonnes per year and the figures for other European countries are similar per capita.
The EU Waste Framework Directive, which first came into force in 2008, provides the legislative framework for the collection, transport, recovery and disposal of waste throughout the EU member states. The directive also requires member states to take appropriate measures to reduce waste production and to increase the recovery of waste through recycling, re-use, or as a means of extracting secondary raw materials and/or generating energy. This has been supplemented by landfill taxes and bans, in place throughout much of Europe, which also encourage businesses to implement waste reduction strategies.
Today packaging volumes and weights are required to be the minimum possible to maintain the necessary levels of safety, hygiene and product acceptance. At Clondalkin we are keen proponents of lean manufacturing in all our business activities. We focus on increasing efficiency, reducing waste and passing on the cost savings to our customers.
We work closely with raw material suppliers to create new products that meet specific customer needs and requirements. We also strive to ensure our flexible packaging doesn’t contain any potentially harmful substances by moving towards biodegradable inks and materials that break down organically.
Last, but not least, energy reduction and the use of renewable energy sources is another important area in which packaging manufacturers are facing increased legislation. Although a Europe-wide carbon tax has not yet been agreed, many individual nations have put their own energy taxes in place, such as the UK’s Climate Change Levy, to encourage companies to reduce carbon emissions and increase energy efficiency.
It is, without doubt, a fast changing market in which packaging manufacturers operate today. However, for companies keen to innovate and embrace the latest technology, there are also fantastic opportunities to create exciting packaging solutions that exceed what brands and consumers have known before. Sustainability is key and in choosing to operate in an environmentally responsible way we will ensure that the packaging sector continues to grow and thrive in the future.