Plastic has been ingrained into the fabric of modern life and has been considered as the world’s “disposable sweetheart” since the 1950s.It’s also a valuable commodity. However, its longevity is overlooked, or misunderstood, and now plastic faces a global revolt, largely perceived as a damaging material we must purge ourselves of.
The ongoing media coverage and public backlash on plastic has been far reaching indeed, but the beverages and bottling sector can still make a difference now.
To counteract this movement, it requires all parts of the supply chain to work together to show that plastic can actually help save us from our throw-away and wasteful culture.
Bottling and beverage manufacturers are experiencing mounting pressure from legislation, retailers and customers to increase the volume of recycled content in their products. Manufacturers are struggling with the shortfall of recycled PET, while plastics’ fall from grace in the public eye has made the need to do something even more intense.
It’s a storm alright, but there has never been a better opportunity to capitalise on the public’s acceptance that there might be a price to be paid for better recycling programmes.
Research in 2018 reported that consumers are willing to pay 2.5p more for bottles and packaging that contained more recycled material.
This begs the question: if the public is willing to pay more for recycled packaging, will they be more receptive to changes in packaging aesthetics, if it means the material is then recyclable?
Transparency and traceability
In November 2018, we explored the concerns and challenges faced by plastic manufacturers and processors with a survey. The top two trepidations are closely aligned with the social shift the sector is experiencing:
- Providing transparency to customers about what happens to their plastic
- Satisfying customer demand for recycled plastic in their products
Worryingly, 41% of respondents admitted that they did not know or trust what their current waste processor is doing with the scrap they produce. And what’s more - 29% are concerned that their current solution doesn’t offer them the required level of traceability.
Given the public distrust with how plastic waste is dealt with, that’s a large number of firms in the supply chain who don’t have the procedures in place to make sure their plastic scrap is processed properly.
While there is a longer-term problem with sourcing a regular supply of rPET, that shouldn’t stop bottling and beverage companies dealing with other challenges – namely production scrap.
In fact, we can hardly complain about the lack of rPET available if, at the same time, we are not dealing with production scrap effectively.
Bottling and beverage firms need to take ownership of their commitment to plastic recycling and seek to create a transparent supply chain that exhibits environmental consciousness from start to finish. Partnering with others in the supply chain that are determined to also excel in this area is key to regaining the trust of our colleagues and customers.
Vanden offers immediate solutions to bottling and beverage businesses to deal with PET preforms, bottles, caps, ingredients containers and other rejects from the bottling process.
But we know it’s important to go beyond just a simple transactional service. We have to, and want to, work with our customers to show how our partnership is driving real change. With many of our customers, we send in our in-house videography team to help demonstrate your sustainability efforts and communicate the message, that by using Vanden you have full visibility of what happens to your scrap. Transforming a previous issue into a positive story to be leveraged for the brand.
We have successfully built a culture that thrives on transparency and visibility, including processes that include providing accurate and reliable information that meets audit trail and compliance requirements.
It’s widely accepted that recycling is in its infancy in this sector. We believe that education is the catalyst that will drive the rate of adoption forward. Through providing education on all elements of the supply chain and internal processes, from stepping away from hybrid plastics, aesthetic processes that render packaging unable to be reprocessed, on-site segregation to equipment and machinery, we can support bottling and beverage firms in making plastic recycling an integral part of their supply chain.
For more information on how we can provide an immediate solution for you or if you would like to arrange a visit, please get in touch.