Packages and closures for packaging

PPWR, that is the circular economy policy from behind the desk.

Numerous entrepreneurs and institutions are waiting for the entry into force of the PPWR (Packaging and Packaging Waste) regulation. Unfortunately, it isn’t wistful anticipation of the desired change, but rather a fearful gaze through the peephole, in the hope that the change isn’t coming yet.
Poland isn’t ready for a revolution.
For years green changes have been hindered and hedged with regulations that have been harder and harder to implement, which is why they have ultimately become unattractive because they are unprofitable.
At almost every stage of the chain: producers – consumers – communes – recyclers, there are shortcomings, technological delays, issues with innovation profitability, dilution of responsibility, as well as lack of education and a clear goal.
Companies entering non-PET packaging into the market know that there are no technologies that would recycle on a large scale the packaging materials they use.
So, we can stick information on polypropylene that it’s fully recyclable, but an asterisk should be placed with additional information: unfortunately, no one in Poland will do it anyway....
There’s a demand for regranulate from other materials than PET, but to obtain it, completely new procedures must be implemented, which few can afford. Consequently, the share of such a form of processing is negligible.

The consumer as a poor winger
Consumers aren't educated enough to trust them that pre-segregated waste will be recyclable.
An empty PET bottle doesn’t always end up in a waste bin, when water or drink has been poured out of it. Its life can be long and unknown, as well as affect the chemical composition of the packaging plastic. Storing chemical substances in such bottles and throwing them out to the plastic fraction is irresponsible to say the least. And, certainly, such contaminated waste can’t be picked out in the sorting plan from the entire stream of nearly identical PET bottles.
A bottle which, in theory, contained water becomes a water bottle, and unknown contaminants accompany the subsequent users, unless tests of the ready-made regranulate reveal high content of unacceptable substances, in which case the entire batch should lose the ability to be used for food products.
Consumers commit other sins too, although 70% of the Polish public (according to Ekobarometer) declare they sort out waste, when asked for details, they are no longer so specific. It turns out that Poles simply don’t know how to do it. According to Ekobarometr, 99% of the respondents at least once provided a wrong answer to the question on where to throw out empty packaging.
However, it’s difficult to educate society as such, if communes approach the segregation differently. Warsaw divides waste into five fractions, whereas the city of Biała Podlaska into just four, and they do it differently. Consequently, a nation-wide campaign wouldn’t make the grade.
For communes, which are obliged to collect and dispose of waste, the costs involved with it are often really burdensome. As a result, it blocks investment in education or new installations for waste segregation and disposal. Trying to meet the new requirements, they encourage residents living in them to sort out the waste which is in demand. If a recycler needs only clean PET waste, that sieve, human eye or another equally simple method helps achieve that goal.
The aim of the PPWR is to reduce the amount of waste entered into the market, which would please communes that aren’t able to deal with the flood of waste. The roads to that destination are winding too...

Thin... really thin...

One of the methods used by the FMCG industry to reduce waste entering the market is to slim packaging down.
The increasingly common method generates new and difficult problems to overcome.
The process of filling and closing bottles on a production line is automated in majority of cases. The bottle goes through the subsequent stations of the line, where it’s first labeled, then, if it isn’t crushed or broken at this point, it will move on to be filled and then to be capped... and this stage is very difficult to handle in the case of extremely slimmed down bottles. Bottle bottom grippers and those that twist the cap on whirl the whole bottle, “twisting” it in the middle.
If, however, a bottle ends up in a machine that will handle it more gently and close it without any damage, then transportation may prove to be the awful adventure. Putting products in cartons, placing them on a pallet, one on top of one another, and sending them off can involve a surprise for the recipient in the form of 'broken' bottles or leaky closures, and, consequently, cartons full of dirty, damaged and worthless products.
The idea of refill is up in the air
If this type of packaging survives transportation, is delivered into the consumer's hands, and the consumer, according to the 6R assumptions, wants to reuse it... then they may be disappointed. The thin bottle and poor quality closure will prevent the refill and reuse.
Consequently, packaging made in compliance with the PPWR assumptions will turn out to be unfit to comply with the subsequent PPWR assumptions…
Smaller packaging than up to now!
Consumers often feel cheated, when they buy a cosmetic packaged in a carton, and later find that the jar is disproportionately smaller than the carton.
The PPWR will solve that problem by introducing a ban on marketing packaging that artificially increases the perceived product amount. In theory, it sounds like a brilliant idea – honesty, transparency, less waste.
On the other hand, manufacturers of cosmetics have to comply with specific guidelines on what information has to be placed on the product packaging and the size of the font used. If a given product is shipped to more than one EU market, the data have to be multiplied in the subsequent languages. As a result, space is required which, after all, needs to be reduced.

The cases of the discrepancies between various regulations and life described above are just a few examples.
We’ll deal with the rest of the surprising changes which we can’t hide from, and if we manage to hide from them, it will be only for a while, during a conference at BIO-EXPO trade fair (October 6), organized by Creative Packaging Group Cluster.