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Paper alternative to plastics

02 August 2018

Managing partner at Kite Packaging Jake Kirk takes a closer look at protective packaging and focuses on offering paper-based solutions as an alternative to plastics.

With Theresa May setting out to rid the UK of avoidable plastic and David Attenborough warning us of the detrimental impact the substance is having on our oceans, people are beginning to re-evaluate the whole purpose of single-use plastic and whether there is really a need for it.

How did we get here?

As we sift our way through the many tasks and challenges society throws our way, the particularly hot topic of protective packaging derived from plastic and polyethylene is being discussed throughout a wide range of industries. Thanks to the UK’s vivacious café culture, our nation produces 30,000 tonnes of coffee cup waste each year. The disposable cups cannot be recycled within normal systems as their cardboard composition is tightly bonded with a polyethylene liner, deeming them unacceptable for recycling by paper mills. As well as this, other impacting sources and single-use products such as plastic bottles, straws and cotton buds are also producing colossal waste with an estimated 150 metric tons of plastic currently circulating our oceans. So how has this over production of plastic happened?

Originally, due to the mammoth influx in demand, businesses had to focus on packaging their products in the most cost-effective way possible while accommodating mass production levels. With many of them turning to plastic and polythene as low priced solutions, the scale of non-renewable plastic waste has rocketed, therefore introducing the imminent need for reform. In order to reduce plastic waste and abide by a circular economy philosophy, highly influential global businesses and fast-moving consumer giants are now joining initiatives with the aim of eradicating single-use plastics and developing new business models. For this wholesale transformation to happen, organisations and companies nationwide need to come together under a shared commitment to act and every party has to adhere to the change ahead. Regardless of size or status, businesses are now under a monumental pressure to perform ecologically – including the minimisation of plastic pollution. So how can else OEMs and SMEs tackle the issue of non-biodegradable plastic waste when it comes to packing their goods?

What now?

One viable solution is implementing paper-based packaging alternatives which offer a recyclable service to businesses and consumers. The circular economy trend and environmental considerations are becoming more dominant factors for consumers when buying a product, thus heavily impacting brand image. By using protective packaging manufactured from a paper-based, renewable source, companies can remove the need for single-use plastic whilst also enforcing an environmentally friendly work ethic amongst the manufacturing sectors and supply chain. Paper-based solutions can still provide the necessary protection for stock but with one major difference – the biodegradable properties.

E-commerce giants like Amazon are leading the way with frustration-free paper-based packaging by filling their exterior boxes with paper void fill, therefore encompassing a reusable, eco-friendly approach in the packing arena. This efficient method can be carried out using innovative paper dispensing systems such as the Speedman Box, Speedman Classic, Speedman Pro or Paper Jet Paper System which eliminate the need for plastic and polystyrene void fill.

This ongoing shift from plastic packaging to paper-based alternatives is impacting a large scope of industries and influencing the nationwide pick, pack and despatch process. One company taking advantage of the ecological potential of paper-based alternatives is Kite Packaging, a leading UK packaging supplier which is continuously innovating by bringing eco-friendly products to market. Kite is the only packaging supplier in the country to run an environmental Government Approved Compliance Scheme for Packaging Regulations otherwise known as Kite Environmental Solutions (KES).  Through on-site support, a partnership approach and in-depth knowledge of the Regulations, KES ensures that businesses can meet and exceed the Environment Agency’s data accuracy requirements and puts them in the best possible position to pass the compliance audits. 

Overall, this whole process of collaboration is particularly potent when working to achieve new environmental business models. The new models need to be accessible, so by working cohesively, organisations in society can identify and adopt the necessary, new ethics and regulations that are needed and apply them in practice. Paper-based alternatives offer an environmentally viable solution to the plastic epidemic, and therefore by collaborating with a united environmental aspiration, utilising education on the issue and implementing paper-based alternatives, we can help revolutionise our throwaway culture and cement a reformed circular economy for a sustainable future.