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Various upcoming new rules and regulations, as well as consumer perceptions, are changing the role, and nature, of packaging on offer to the sector. 


New requirements

A new plastic packaging tax will see businesses whose products have less than 30% recyclable material being charged £200 per tonne. However, many feel that the rules for this tax could well provide a powerful advantage for those businesses able to reduce the amount of packaging they use, ensure it is made from the maximum recycled content, and that it is universally recyclable.

The Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) rules, which are due to go live in 2022, will force producers and users of packaging to pay the full net cost of collecting, reprocessing and recycling packaging to local authorities in the UK. By the government’s own calculations, EPR is set to increase the cost of packaging compliance fees by an estimated 21 times what businesses were paying in 2017 - a significant increase. 

Also on the rise are Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) charges, the fees businesses must pay towards the collection and disposal of plastic packaging waste they put on the market. On its own, the per-tonne increase of plastic compliance – from an average of £50 in 2017 to over £400 in 2019. However, when these costs are modelled for large and mid-sized businesses, it is calculated that for every £1,000 a company was spending on plastic compliance in 2017, they are now spending over £8,000. The cost of these PRNs has effectively risen from a level many businesses might have considered a manageable marginal cost of doing business, to a major cost centre.

Add to that hardening consumer attitudes against plastics packaging, as well as increasing pressure from investors interested in sustainability and the implications for supply chains to remove or reduce packaging, and the pressure is on for food businesses large and small to give even greater consideration to the packaging materials they use.



Colpac (www.colpacpackaging.com) reports that it is catering to take-away demand with two compartment, single pack sustainable solution, having launched a unique carton board two compartment lidded hot food to go box; a development that will also allow environmentally conscious, Italian delivery and take-away businesses to use a single piece of recyclable carton board packaging for hot food on the go, they add.

As with all new packaging, say the company, Colpac’s team factored in the entire life cycle of its Two Compartment Box during the construction process, from point of fill, point of sale to point of consumption and point of disposal. Available in two sizes - medium and large - the Two Compartment Box is nested for space efficiency, features a simple clip closure to allow stacking and minimise heat loss with an integral lid. The pack is also printable to offer good branding opportunities. 

Ideal for packing two dishes, hot or cold, the box’s design also simplifies portion control and minimises the need for packaging in this fast-moving market, feel Colpac. The inside of the Two Compartment Box is coated with a barrier to prevent any grease or liquid permeating through the pack, meaning that the box can be used for hot holding, and in turn making it an excellent choice for operators needing a solution for high traffic locations, propose Colpac. 

The box is simple for consumers to use and eat from, making it an appealing pack for street food concepts or take-away. Made from kraft board, it is recyclable once all food waste is removed, in turn meaning that consumers can easily find an appropriate waste stream.

“Providing a food packaging solution which upholds the integrity of our customer’s offering is vital,” says Kate Berry, Colpac’s head of marketing & product. “Many businesses have launched take-away and delivery services this year, and we are committed to creating viable, sustainable packaging to meet food-to-go demands. The forthcoming launch of the Two Compartment Box is an excellent addition to our range.”

With a total capacity of up to 1,050ml the large pack has a 920ml big compartment alongside a smaller compartment of 510ml. The medium pack has a 670ml and 390ml compartments and a total capacity of 1050ml.

Also catering to the takeaway uptake and sustainability drive is UK-based Celebration Packaging (www.celebration.co.uk) who have launched their proven disposable and fully recyclable paper cutlery range in convenient retail packs.

“We’ve been supplying our award-winning disposable paper cutlery to the foodservice and takeaway sectors for quite some time, but we are now making the products available to the general public through retail channels,” says Celebration Packaging managing director, Nick Burton. “Packs of paper knives, forks and spoons are already on-shelf with a leading retailer in Norway, and will soon be available here in the UK.”

Available in convenient packs of 20 knives, forks or spoons, Celebration Packaging’s recyclable EnviroWare® paper cutlery is made from paper produced from sustainable forestry and has full FSC®(Forest Stewardship Council®) chain of custody accreditations. The company is BRCGS (Brand Reputation Compliance Global Standards) certified, and the sustainable paper cutlery has been vigorously tested to meet relevant EU regulations, and is free from Bisphenol A, they emphasise. The outer packaging is own-label branded to fit in with retailer’s existing ranges, enabling consumers to see at a glance that the cutlery is environmentally friendly.

“Immediately after launching the range in 2019, we won an award in the Innovation Challenge at the lunch! show at ExCel, London, the judging panel observing that ‘the EnviroWare® paper cutlery is a real contender for the future of foodservice cutlery’,” adds Nick Burton.

“In Europe, a ban on the sale of single-use plastic cutlery comes into force on 3 July, and in the UK, while a ban on the supply or sale of single-use plastic straws and cotton buds came into effect last October, the banning of other single-use plastic items is still being debated. 

“Disposable, but fully recyclable paper cutlery provides a perfect solution for consumers wanting to play their part in reducing single-use plastic packaging. Many people think the focus on sustainability is something new and are then surprised to discover that we launched our EnviroWare® range over 13 years ago.”


Gelato solution

For the gelato and ice cream industry, retail sampling and on the go, single serve cups are an important sales opportunity, particularly with many of the Covid based stay-at-home restrictions now being lifted. But now there is another issue - how will these lucrative opportunities be realised with recent consumer rejection of the plastic utensils invariably used to consume them? California-based EcoTensil® (www.ecotensil.eu) feels that it may have the answer. Designed specifically for the sampling of gelato and frozen desserts is the company’s extra sturdy iScoop.

In 2020, EcoTensil - an 11-year-old pioneer in sustainable paper-based cutlery - launched its popular utensils in Europe and the UK, offering a better tasting, plastic-free alternative to wooden utensils, having been led by the gelato and ice cream industry in the US to develop more sustainable options for sampling and consumer use.

“Companies looking for plastic-free utensils embraced EcoTensil in part because it doesn’t negatively impact the taste of their product - as wooden utensils do. Not only do people love the ‘No more one-taste plastic-waste’ aspect of EcoTensil, they also love how beautifully it features their food, as well as being compact, simple and fun to use,” says Peggy Cross, founder and CEO of EcoTensil.

“Early on, numerous ice cream makers requested a sturdier EcoTaster for ice cream and gelato. So, we got to work engineering one. We worked with them and refined the shape, structure, scoring and materials; resulting in the iScoop®, which can cut through all but the hardest ice cream.”


SUPD (Single Use Plastics Directive) compliance

EcoTensil’s AquaDot range for both iScoop and EcoSpoon® is plastic free, SUPD-compliant, compostable, recyclable and uses PEFC certified paperboard. The company’s GreenDot EcoTaster sampling spoons are also recyclable, ASTM D6868 compliant for compostability and are FSC certified.

For full-sized servings of softer ice creams, thick shakes, gelato, frozen yogurt, or desserts like tiramisu, and cake, they offer the full-sized EcoSpoon, which also works for a wide range of to-go foods like thick soups, deli salads, rice and pasta dishes too, they point out.

Hygienic dispensing is now also imperative,” says Peggy Cross. “Servers reaching into a bag of loose utensils is not hygienic. iScoops come packed in tidy rows in sleeves, so the server need not touch more than the handle of one utensil. The reclosable trays keep the remaining spoons clean. EcoSpoons and iScoops can be ordered individually wrapped. EcoTensil may also be hygienically attached to single serve packaging in numerous ways, so a customer can enjoy touch-free access to a utensil for on-the-go eating.”

EcoTensil US customer, Clover Sonoma - an organic dairy based in Sonoma, California - branded iScoops for trade show and sampling events around the country for their recently launched new line of organic ice cream and yogurts.

“When we launched our new Clover ice cream, we needed a tasting spoon that was both sturdy and sustainable. iScoops work beautifully and our customers love that they’re so eco-friendly and easy to use,” reports Adrienne Smith, Clover Sonoma’s senior marketing communications manager.

In addition to replacing plastic and wooden tasting spoons, consumers are increasingly loving grab-and-go convenience, and packaging on the go must enhance the premium softer serve of gelato and the celebration or treat experience of ice cream, feel EcoTensil. 

“The first iterations of EcoTensil were specifically designed for packaging, with the goal of providing convenient yet sustainable utensils as part of the package for the growing grab and go market,” adds Peggy Cross. “Ice cream and gelato companies were looking for ways to include a spoon with their single-serve cups. So we developed the PopOut, which is the iScoop and the tab-lid in one. The PopOut literally pops out of the lid and has a thin printable film on the outside which keeps the spoon clean.” 

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