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A completely biodegradable packaging solution

The environment has always been a talking point as the human race witnesses the changes to the Earth we live on, sometimes in the most dramatic ways. With climate change a pressing issue after recent political events, including the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, announcing that he would be pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement.

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The packaging is perfect for drinks and food, and can completely biodegrade to almost nothing within twelve weeks

The Paris Agreement was an initiative created to bind the world’s countries into the singular goal of tackling climate change. It sets targets concerning emissions of greenhouse gasses, which affect the temperature of the Earth.

Alongside the problem of emissions and pollution, there is the issue of physical waste. Landfills full of rubbish, ruining landscapes, damaging wildlife and the environment. Many products are made from plastics which do not biodegrade because of the carbon-carbon bonds that it comprises of. The organism that decomposes organic matter, such as food, grass, or wood, have evolved over billions of years to be able to do this job. Most plastics are unnatural to them.

The European Union have also set targets for packaging waste, with the UK aiming to hit 60 percent of their waste being recycled. The UK have reached these targets for the last few years, with 2013 showing that 72.7 percent of packaging waste was recycled. However, with the UK exiting the EU, will these goals change? Or will Britain keep up with tackling climate change and the issues surrounding the environment?

With this in mind, there is a need for packaging that will not remain in a landfill for hundreds of years, or become unsightly street litter. Companies are also taxed if their waste requires an extra trip to a landfill site, pushing many businesses to become greener.

As a mono substance, plastics on their own can be recycled, paperboard of course, is easy to recycle, but once they are laminated together, they need to be separated

Delipac has created an innovative solution that will significantly decrease the amount of food packaging ending up in landfill, by creating containers that are fully biodegradable and recyclable.
To become fully recyclable and/or biodegradable, the plastic lining that fills the inside of most coffee cups, food boxes, or other types of food packaging board, has to be stripped away. Delipac uses a water-based coating instead.

Chief executive officer (CEO), Paul Spring, explains: “Delipac is an innovative paper board with a unique reverse side coating suitable for food and drink.

“Where food and drink are in direct contact with the board itself you need a barrier; up until now the barrier has usually been provided by PE—polyethylene—coating. It’s a thin membrane of PE that is laminated to the board.

“In some cases, its PE, in other cases it’s a plastic film, but once it’s laminated to the board it’s not easily recyclable. As a mono substance, plastics on their own can be recycled, paperboard of course, is easy to recycle, but once they are laminated together, they need to be separated in order to consider recycling. The difference between us and everything else, is that instead of applying the PE coating, we supply a water-based coating.”

Spring also explains that there are limited facilities in the UK offering the ability to strip paper from the PE laminate, but the process is quite expensive and specialised. These facilities retain the high value fibre which, in turn, is then utilised in the production of specialist paper.

However, because there are so few companies that can complete this process, only three or four percent of the billions of consumed paper cups in the UK can actually be recycled, and the remainder often end up in landfill, regardless of whether the overall intention is to recycle this form of packaging.

Delipac are currently discussing with supermarket chain Co-Op, which has the aim to have everything in their stores easily recyclable by 2020

The CEO also mentioned that the public believed that coffee cups from their morning commutes were easily recyclable, when factually, they were not. However, since it was made clear by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall in his recent BBC television programme, that cups actually took over 1,000 years to biodegrade, people have reacted angrily to the issue.

As a direct result, there are now schemes set in place by well-known coffee retailers, who discount your coffee should you bring in a reusable cup. This, along with kerbside collection schemes, is relatively expensive, whereas utilising recyclable and biodegradable Delipac creates huge benefits, as there is no need for such costly schemes.

Companies and franchises not only face tax if they are required to use more than their quoted landfill slot, but carbon taxing is on the horizon and being considered by government, with the intention of taxing corporates with the intention of reducing the amount of carbon generated. Delipac negates both fees, as it is biodegradable and carbon-balanced through the World Land Trust in collaboration with its UK stockist, Denmaur Independent Papers.

Spring finishes: “For every tonne of Delipac board produced, there’s a contribution made to the World Land Trust, which is an offset scheme, encouraging investment into the development of carbon neutral schemes. These organisations will be generating greener ways in which to produce energy and ultimately reducing carbon footprint. In other words, Delipac is further contributing to the environment by way of these schemes from every tonne of Delipac produced and sold.”

Delipac is a solid and scalable solution, and will possibly be in your hands sooner than you may think. The company are currently discussing plans with Co-op, which aims to have everything easily recyclable across their stores, by 2020. The supermarket already offers green bags which can be reused as food waste bin liners and are also totally biodegradable.

The next time you are at a festival, drinking from a paper coffee cup, or enjoying fast food, think about what you might be throwing in the bin. Just because the carboard seems like it can be recycled, this might not be the case because of that PE lining. It is no doubt that Delipac will make this thought process, and recycling, much easier as it is introduced through the wider packaging market.

If you have an interesting story or a view on this news, then please e-mail news@printmonthly.co.uk

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