Legislative interventions relating to plastic packaging
The recent 25 Year Environment Plan set out the government’s intention to achieve zero avoidable plastic waste by 2042 and a series of measures to improve quality of material collected and recycled. It also promoted measures to support more effective anti-littering campaigns.
The EU also published its Plastics Strategy with an intention to achieve a recycling rate for plastics of 55% by 2030 and a series of measures to encourage best practice in reuse and recycling, together with measures aimed at improving waste infrastructure to prevent the leakage of materials into the oceans.
The following information aims to provide guidance on how these objectives could potentially be achieved and also why the packaging of goods is beneficial.
To stop plastic leaking into oceans we must understand where it comes from and which items are the largest contributors.
Where does plastic in the ocean come from? Most comes from land, mainly from countries outside the US and Europe where many people do not have kerbside collection and instead rely on open dumpsites near waterways. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t issues to address here in the UK.
What does the UK contribute to plastic in the ocean? Litter from items consumed outside the home – this can fall into drains or waterway or be littered on beaches. Abandoned fishing gear and items thoughtlessly flushed down the toilet (e.g. cotton buds).
|ITEMS FOUND ON BEACHES||ITEMS FOUND UNDERWATER|
|Technical Report by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission’s science and knowledge service. Marine Beach Litter in Europe.2016||Project Aware – Dive Against Debris. Annual Review 2016.|
|Nets + ropes
Plastic caps and lids
Crisp and sweet wrappers
String and cord < 1 cm diameter
Cotton bud sticks
Plastic drink bottles
Plastic food containers
Fishing sinkers, lures, hooks
Plastic food wrappers
Beverage cans (aluminium)
Beverage bottles (glass)
Glass & ceramic fragments
Plastic bags (grocery/retail)
Plastic spoons, plates, forks, knives
What is the plastics industry doing to help stop plastic entering our oceans? Education programmes, phasing out microbeads, preventing raw material loss, innovative campaigns on littering and sharing of best practice.
Why use packaging?
To save resources, such as food and product waste that occurs on the way to the store and while on display. Packaging typically reduces supermarket food and product waste by about one third.
Packaging lets us consume products in ways that would be very diﬃcult, if not impossible without it.
Packaging: Protects vulnerable products from damage whilst in transit and from contamination or damage by moisture, humidity, gases, microorganisms, insects and light.
Packaging: Preserves products for longer, which reduces waste by giving people more time to use or consume them before it is no longer suitable to do so.
Packaging: Prevents waste by keeping a product together and avoiding spillages.
Packaging: Allows transport over great distances, so that we have access to a wide variety of non-local produce that, in turn, encourages trade.
Packaging: Saves space through stacking objects which make transporting more eﬃcient.
Packaging: Displays important information about the product, such as nutritional content or allergy advice, which makes selling easier.
Why plastic? It’s light and can provide unique benefits (e.g. packaging fresh produce). You can use less plastic than other materials to do the same job. Producing plastic uses half as much energy and results in much less carbon being emitted than alternatives.
Why isn’t all plastic biodegradable? Products that are easily recyclable should be recycled to enable the reuse of the material. Some items such as small items and those heavily contaminated with food may be suitable for composting. However, we need to make sure they don’t get into the recycling stream (where they can cause issues) and are collected for special treatment (industrial composting). Most materials only biodegrade in special conditions (which are not met on the street, in the ocean or in landfill) so they should never be littered.
Isn’t plastic difficult to recycle? No – 74% of plastic beverage bottles are recycled. The UK recovers 80% of all plastic packaging. The UK is also the 7th best recycler of plastic packaging waste in Europe (out of 30 countries).
What about black and coloured plastic? Currently, waste management companies have difficulties separating black trays, but once separated they can be recycled. New smart detection systems can solve this problem. Some black trays already contain 98% recycled content.
Can films be recycled? Yes and 17 member states in Europe already collect all plastics packaging from households. The UK should follow their lead.
What do we think is the way forward for plastic packaging?
In the UK, we believe we should expand kerbside collection, improve collection outside of the home, provide clear communications on recycling and implement strong anti-litter campaigns.
We should strive to ensure the design and materials / material structures specified at the initial design stage of the packaging facilitate recycling if deemed to be the most appropriate course of action at end of life stage.
If we merely stop using plastics altogether we are likely to consume more overall resources and have no less litter. Instead, we should continue to strive to find the most effective materials (which may not always be plastics) and environmentally friendly design structures with the best overall environmental outcomes to package our goods.
At Ultimate we are committed to developing new innovative packaging, focusing on sustainability, extending shelf life and reducing waste. It is very important to us to protect the environment and consistently improve our performance. We work with a diverse selection of innovative specialist raw material suppliers from all over the world. Additionally we have a dedicated team of technical specialists in polymers and packaging technology backed up with state of the art laboratory equipment and facilities to ensure to get the right solution for both our customers and specifiers.
Ultimate Packaging are committed to playing our part in addressing the major challenge of plastics in the environment and protecting our planet for the future. We commit to work closely with our customers, specifiers and suppliers to meet the targets set out in the 25 year Environment plan and to develop all our packaging to be recyclable or reusable within the next 5 years.
Our objective is to employ a process approach to enable consistency and efficiency which will in turn ensure our products continue to exceed the expectations of our stakeholders and comply with all applicable quality and safety legislation.
- We are ISO 9001 certified.
- We use an integrated QMS to ensure continuity of high standards in all areas.
- We have good supplier relationships and have helped a number of suppliers achieve BRC/IoP certification.
- We have comprehensive disaster recovery and business continuity procedures.
The complete Ultimate Packaging business considers Health and Safety as equal in importance as any other function of the company and its business objectives.
- We strongly promote the ethos that safety is the responsibility of everyone within the organisation and is not just a function of the Managers and have established a no blame culture to encourage everyone to report problems and make suggestions for improvement.
- Members of SEDEX – follow the ethical trading initiative.
- Audited and approved against SEDEX/SMETA Standards.
This statement is made by Ultimate Packaging Ltd. It is a statement made in accordance with section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and covers the period from November 2018 to October 2019.
Ultimate Packaging is a company which strives to do things in the right way and as a business we recognise our responsibility to be aware of the risks of modern slavery and human trafficking within our own organisation and supply chain.
Our manufacturing processes and offices are based in Grimsby, UK. We employ approx. 250 staff members, undertaking a range of roles including, sales, manufacturing, finance, IT, HR, Engineering, warehousing and logistics. We supply to, and buy from, mainly the UK and mainland Europe.
We do not use any temporary agency labour on site. Our recruitment process includes using reputable recruitment agencies. We may outsource certain services where specific expertise may be required and a number of non-key activities, such as engineer support, site maintenance and logistics.
We have carried out a review of our direct supply chain and have concluded that the risks of modern slavery and human trafficking are low. However, we acknowledge that we must remain vigilant to the risks and ensure that our vendors understand and play their part in ensuring that modern slavery and human trafficking does not take place in our organisation or supply chains.
3. Relevant Policies
To further our commitment to combating slavery and trafficking, we have policies in place, which set out our zero tolerance approach to modern slavery both within our own operations and our supply chain:
We have in place a Social Compliance Policy and Human rights and Ethical Trading Policy, which applies to all our operations and those in our supply chain which refers to our zero-tolerance stance on modern slavery.
We have procedures in place when engaging with new vendors, contractors and business partners to ensure that they are aware of and will adhere to our Social Compliance Policy and Human Rights and Ethical Trading Policy and to assess the likelihood of slavery or trafficking existing in those organisations and what measures are already in place to combat those risks.
We have reviewed our existing policies and are making amendments to recognise our obligations under the Act including our Whistleblowing Policy.
4. Risk assessment processes
We have considered the risk of modern slavery in our own operations and we have concluded that, on the basis that we are a UK employer subject to UK employment protections and practices and already have well developed checks and balances within our business, we have a low risk of modern slavery occurring in our own operations.
Our suppliers which fall into the following categories are strongly encouraged to commit and adhere to Ultimate Packaging standards, which include a requirement to abide by the Ethical Trading Initiative base code.
- Substrates (e.g. films, paper)
- Coatings (e.g. inks, solvents, adhesives)
We are currently in the process of approving the following suppliers, with regards to Ethical Trading.
- Consumables (e.g. boxes, pallets)
- Suppliers of services associated with our product (e.g. hauliers, laundry supplier)
We have considered the risk of modern slavery occurring in our use of employment agencies for permanent placements on site. Given the organisations that we work with and the existing checks that we apply in these areas we have concluded that the risks of modern slavery are low in this area.
5. Due diligence processes
In order to prevent slavery and trafficking in our business and supply chains, we are taking steps to update and improve our supplier due diligence process. This includes integrating and acting upon the findings of our risk assessment processes described above and taking action to embed zero tolerance of modern slavery and trafficking.
To raise awareness of slavery and trafficking and of our policies and procedures we are developing an approach to training key staff members in this area.
7. Measuring effectiveness – performance indicators
In order to monitor the effectiveness of the steps we have taken and are intending to take to stop slavery and trafficking taking place in our business and supply chains, we intend to use the following performance indicators for the year ahead:
- We intend that key members of staff will receive relevant training, as referenced above.
- We will display Stronger Together and Ethical Trading Posters to our employees and include Ethical Trading information within the induction process for all new starters.
- Where we assess that there may be a heightened risk of slavery and trafficking within other organisations, we will take appropriate measures to encourage and persuade them to adopt their own measures to minimise the risks of slavery and trafficking within their own organisations and the supply chain beyond.
As referenced in this statement, we will monitor the need for further action to be taken and other key performance indicators to be implemented as we continue our risk assessment and due diligence activities and get responses from our key suppliers.
This statement has been approved by the Managing Director, who will review and update it annually.
Signed on behalf of Ultimate Packaging Ltd.
Date: 1 November 2018
Ultimate Packaging Ltd, Flexo Centre, Pegasus Way, Europarc, Grimsby, DN37 9TS, UK. Registered Number: 1625575
Call: +44 (0)1472 255400 | Email: email@example.com | Fax: +44 (0)1472 255440