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A Slice of Green A Warne AB Packaging Abaca Packaging Ah! Table! Algalife Algopack Algotek All 4 Labels Allied Glass Amipak Amphorea Amy Jade Creations Ardagh Group Ardalanish Arjowiggins Astu Eco AVANI BagasseWare Baker Labels Bakergoodchild Ball Bambu BASF Beatson Clark Best Practice Packaging LLC. Better Packaging Billerwkorsnas Bio Bag UK Bio Viron Bio4Life Bio4Pack BIOFASE Biome Plastics Biopac Biopak Biopap BioTAK Biotec Biotrem Butterfly Cup Bysshe CamVac Carapac Carters Packaging Cartulinas CMPC Celanese Cellcomb Chapelton Board CKF Clondalkin Coburger Cocccon Cocoform Cocolok Coconutbowls Coir Lanka Cole Fabrics Colombier Colourform Colpac Comp Bio COSIBRA Cotton Barons Coveris Covim Creapaper Crown Holdings Croxsons Glass Cullen Cupffee Cygnus Eco Danimer Scientific Dans Le Sac Decent Packaging Delipac Dempson Do Eat Do Your Bit Down2Earth DUNI Earth Distributors Earth Friendly Foodware Earthable ® Earths Tribe East Kent Cartons East Yorkshire Hemp Eco Safe Eco Tensil Ecofoil Ecological Textiles Ecomojiware Ecotainer Elevate Packaging ElPack Emerald City Enviro Textiles Enviropack Enviropak Envopap Ethical Ernie Evesham EVLON Evoware Fabri-Kal FF Packaging Fibre Bio Fibre Form Fibrepak Fleet Luxury Flexi-Hex Floreon Fold-Pak Footprint Four Eco Foxpak Friendlypak Frusack Futamura Gaia Biomaterials Good Life Grado Zero Innovation Graphic Packaging Green Cell Green Gate Green Sax Greenman Packaging HAVI Healthy Eco Hemp Black, Inc Hemp Fabric Lab Hemporium Herbal Fab Himalayan Wild Fibres Hugh Jordan Huhtamaki Hunter Luxury Huski Home Huskup I2R Iggesund InkReadible International Paper James Cropper Jardin Corrugated Jars Direct Jelld Packaging Jerry Just Straw KANEKA Karmic Seed KeCo KINYI Kotkamills Lactips Lean Orb Lenzing Libeco LignoPure Little Cherry Little Green Panda Loliware London Bio Packaging Magic Film Magnum Packaging Maibao Maistic Make Grow Lab Marinatex Marleys Monsters Massilly UK Ltd Masteroast Metsa Board Monadnock Mushroom Packaging My Element Myco Works National Flexible Natur Tec Nature & My Nature Works (Ingeo) Natureflex Naturesse NEFFA Nettle Fibre Company noissue NOTPLA Novamont Nutscene O Eco Textiles O-I Glass Offset Offset Warehouse OOMPH! Orange Fibre Organic Silks ORGANOID Packhelp Pactiv Panda Packaging Paper Pulp Solutions Paper Straw People PaperFoam PaperWise Paptic Parkside Pattesons Glass Ltd Pick Natural Pinatex Planglow Plant Made Bottles Plastiroll (Bioska) Precious Planet Priory Press Ptt MCC Biochem Pulp2Pack PURE Labels QMilk Quintessential Ranpak RawPac RBECO Reel Brands Repaq ReSpiin Riji KCC SABERT Samatoa Lotus Textiles Sana Packaging Sappi SBKG Scitech Seaman Paper Seidentraum SFI Tanzania Shredhouse Ltd Simplifi Fabric Sirane SmartSolve SMC Smurfkit Kappa Solublue Soul Bottles Southern Cross Packaging Spear Coco Spinnova Starlight Sticky Labels Stolzle Glass Group Stora Enso Storopack Sun Packaging Sunkea Surepak Suzano Swanline Taghleef Industries Tea Direct Terracaps Tessile Eco Bio Test Valley The Cloth House The Great British Paper Straw Company The Hemp Shop The Jute Shop The Wheat Straws Company Thought Threads of Peru Tinplate Tinware Direct TIPA Total Papers Trama Textiles Transcend Packaging Transpack Tri-Star Tulsack Turtle Bags Tyler Packaging UB Pack USO Bio VEGEA Vegware Viscose Visican Voidfill VPZ Walki Westfield Thermoform Wild Fibres Wild Silk Markets Wilkins Wool Cool YRG Group Yuggen Zeoform Zest Packaging ZS Fabrics
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Europe
A Slice of Green A Warne AB Packaging Ah! Table! Algalife Algopack Allied Glass Amipak Amphorea Ardagh Group Ardalanish Arjowiggins Baker Labels Bakergoodchild Ball BASF Beatson Clark Billerwkorsnas Bio Bag UK Bio Viron Bio4Life Bio4Pack BIOFASE Biome Plastics Biopac Biopap BioTAK Biotec Biotrem Butterfly Cup Bysshe CamVac Carters Packaging Cellcomb Chapelton Board CKF Clondalkin Coburger Cocccon Cocoform Cocolok Coconutbowls Cole Fabrics Colourform Colpac Comp Bio Cotton Barons Covim Creapaper Cullen Cupffee Cygnus Eco Delipac Dempson Do Eat Do Your Bit Down2Earth DUNI Earth Friendly Foodware East Kent Cartons East Yorkshire Hemp Ecofoil Ecological Textiles ElPack Enviropack Enviropak Ethical Ernie Evesham FF Packaging Fibre Bio Fibre Form Fibrepak Fleet Luxury Flexi-Hex Floreon Four Eco Foxpak Frusack Gaia Biomaterials Good Life Grado Zero Innovation Green Cell Green Gate Green Sax Greenman Packaging HAVI Hugh Jordan Huhtamaki Hunter Luxury Huski Home Huskup I2R Iggesund InkReadible James Cropper Jardin Corrugated Jars Direct Jelld Packaging Jerry Just Straw KeCo Kotkamills Lactips Lenzing Libeco LignoPure Little Cherry London Bio Packaging Magnum Packaging Maistic Make Grow Lab Marinatex Massilly UK Ltd Masteroast Metsa Board My Element National Flexible Nature & My Natureflex Naturesse NEFFA Nettle Fibre Company NOTPLA Novamont Nutscene O Eco Textiles O-I Glass Offset Offset Warehouse OOMPH! Orange Fibre Organic Silks ORGANOID Packhelp Panda Packaging Paper Pulp Solutions Paper Straw People PaperFoam PaperWise Paptic Parkside Pattesons Glass Ltd Pinatex Planglow Plant Made Bottles Plastiroll (Bioska) Precious Planet Priory Press QMilk Quintessential RawPac RBECO Reel Brands Repaq ReSpiin Riji KCC SABERT Scitech Shredhouse Ltd Sirane SMC Smurfkit Kappa Solublue Soul Bottles Southern Cross Packaging Spinnova Starlight Sticky Labels Stolzle Glass Group Stora Enso Storopack Sun Packaging Surepak Swanline Tea Direct Terracaps Tessile Eco Bio Test Valley The Cloth House The Hemp Shop The Wheat Straws Company Tinplate Tinware Direct Transcend Packaging Transpack Tri-Star Turtle Bags Tyler Packaging USO Bio VEGEA Vegware Viscose Visican Voidfill VPZ Westfield Thermoform Wild Fibres Wilkins Wool Cool YRG Group Yuggen Zest Packaging
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It has been said that if 2017 and 2018 were the years of the ‘Blue Planet effect’, 2019 was the year of climate activism. Last year saw School Strikes for Climate expand rapidly, from a one-woman protest from Greta Thunberg to a global phenomenon. At the same time, demonstrations from groups such as Extinction Rebellion grew in scale and frequency, off the back of the IPCC’s landmark report on climate change in October 2018.

The impact on businesses and policy has been tangible. On the latter, national net-zero policies now cover around 40% of GDP globally. And, on the former, participation in schemes such as the Science-Based Targets initiative, RE100 and CDP have boomed.

Amid this fast-moving climate context, edie asked Sutherland, who co-founded NGO A Plastic Planet in 2017, where the plastics agenda has ended up and how its position may change in 2020.

The conversation notably came shortly after a report from the Green Alliance arguing that some single-use alternatives to plastics, such as wood-based or aluminium products, can have higher carbon footprints than their plastic counterparts.

“At the moment, one of the reasons not to change is the argument that plastic has a higher carbon footprint – yet all the lifecycle analyses I’ve seen for plastics exclude the impact of pulling its raw components out of the ground as fossil fuels, or where it’s going to end up – which, most of the time, is polluting nature,” Sutherland said.

“I think 2020 will be the year when the connection between plastics and the climate crisis will become widely evident… Plastic is an enabler of hyper-consumption, and hyper-consumption has led to the climate crisis.”

From single-use society to refill revolution?

Sutherland was keen to point out, however, that simply switching from plastic packaging to an alternative material will not, in itself, combat overconsumption.

“Even though some materials aren’t ideal, they’re a stepping-stone away from a material we know is a disaster for nature,” she elaborated.

“There has been a big shift in awareness at every level – from industry right down to the individual shopper – about the consequences of switching from one material to another. This is going to have a seismic influence on how we manufacture in the future, from the very beginning of the design phase.”

For Sutherland, the trend in 2020 will not be towards reinventing single-use packaging and products using innovative materials, but towards scaling up refill and reuse. 2019 saw a few large-scale projects in this space emerge, including TerraCycle’s Loop platform and Waitrose & Partners’ ‘Unpacked’ offering. Other businesses, such as The Body Shop and Marks & Spencer, have also launched smaller-scale reuse offerings in recent times. Simultaneously, business participation in City to Sea’s Refill campaign, which aims to make water bottle reuse the new norm in all major UK towns and cities, has boomed.

“If we can somehow marry the rise of refill with models that mean we don’t have to give up convenience, we’re onto a winner,” Sutherland said, citing a lack of policy mechanisms which would improve the business case for refill and reuse, coupled with conceptions that these models are “old-fashioned, as current barriers to upscaling.

“Smart businesses want to be part of future solutions rather than maintaining the status quo…. I think there will be many versions of TerraCycle’s Loop emerging in the next five years.”

Time for delivery

Looking to the near future, the business appetite for reinventing refill is tangible. Big-name corporations including Sainsbury’s, The Estee Lauder Companies and Asos are all developing reusable packaging solutions separately from Loop, while the platform itself is garnering support at a rate of one business per day.

But, as Sutherland explains, the business community is not yet placed to rest on its laurels. Despite an increase in business pledges around plastic recyclability and reduction, the amount of plastics produced, littered and incinerated globally is forecast to rise “dramatically” by 2030 – a trend which WWF has attributed to the prevalence of lobbying from the fossil fuel and ‘big plastics’ industries. Such lobbying, WWF claims, has led to businesses, national governments and NGOs alike placing the onus on individual consumers rather than actors with larger impacts – and Sutherland agrees.

But she does not agree with the view that individual consumers have the least power in the sustainability discussion.

“If you are a smaller, challenger brand coming to market right now – you’d be mad to launch in plastic; that’s the power the public has had,” she said.

“The smaller brands, as ever, will lead the change. It’s the big brands that need to step up the pace now; this is where there has been a huge number of pacts, pledges and promises and actually very little change. What we need now are more actions and fewer words.”

While praising the uptick in plastic pledges among corporates, Sutherland ultimately concluded that ten-year timelines for targets are “not ambitious enough”, given the speed of progress in both materials and systems innovation – and in policy (such as the ban on plastic waste exports and the Resources and Waste Strategy) – in recent months.

And for businesses working to shorter timelines, such as Unilever, Sutherland believes she is not alone on wanting proof of delivery as soon as possible.

“What we need now are more actions and less words,” she concluded. “In five years, we will see businesses really starting to suffer if they haven’t acted fast enough, because the public simply won’t stand for reliance on rhetoric rather than action.”

The statistics to back up Sutherland’s claims are ample. Standout survey headlines from 2019 include “82% of UK shoppers say the amount of plastic packaging on food and drink needs to be drastically reduced”; “nine in ten UK shoppers can’t name a manufacturer which is delivering on plastic sustainability targets”; “half would pay more for plastic-free packaging”.

Moreover, with humanity now consuming as many natural resources as Earth can produce in a year within less than seven months, consumer pressure is likely not to be the only plastics pinch point businesses will feel in the coming years.

edie’s Mission Possible Plastics Week: How to get involved

Running from 13-17 January, edie’s Mission Possible Plastics Week includes exclusive interviews, podcasts, reports, webinars and in-depth feature articles – all dedicated to turning the tide on single-use plastics.

A Plastic Planet at edie’s Sustainability Leaders Forum 2020
A Plastic Planet’s co-founder Sian Sutherland will be appearing at day two of edie’s Sustainability Leaders Forum 2020, to deliver a workshop on designing and implementing plastics solutions which deliver notable and rapid reductions.

During the two-day event at London’s Business Design Centre on 4 & 5 February, some of the biggest companies, individuals and organisations championing sustainability will gather to discuss the emergency response in transitioning to a net-zero economy.

The flagship, multi-award-winning event features keynotes speakers including former President of Ireland Mary Robinson; Rebecca Marmot, Unilever CSO; Tom Szaky, TerraCycle CEO; Gilbert Ghostine, Firmenich CEO plus directors and senior managers from Interface, Vattenfall, John Lewis, Taylor Wimpey, Aviva, Pernod Ricard, LEGO Group, M&S, Diageo, Tesco, WSP, BASF, Mondelēz and more.