Packaging and the circular economy mindset
There was an interesting piece in the press over the weekend featuring the Recycling Association doing their regular thing singling out the UK’s worst packaging in terms of its recyclability. The usual suspects got the appropriate opprobrium – black plastic, laminates, use of multiple materials – and the retailers named and shamed trotted out the usual about how they are edging towards more sustainable alternatives.
However, all of the conversation focussed on choice of materials going into standard municipal waste treatment systems and thus becoming someone else’s problem. By simply trying to tweak the existing system, this will lead, at best, to incremental improvements.
To make the breakthroughs we need, those retailers must take a different mindset. They should start with the goal that all their packaging should be sourced from 100% recycled material. Once they take an interest in what comes out of the loop, then the nature of what goes in, and the design of the loop itself, will follow naturally.
It is the switch from thinking about outputs to inputs which will drive real change. Demand will drive supply; supply will never drive demand.