What will it take to make circular flexible food packaging? For a pilot at 10 Tesco supermarkets in the United Kingdom, five different companies all joining forces on packaging for one product: cheese.
Oh, and of course the cooperation of Tesco customers who returned film to the store.
Our sister paper Sustainable Plastics has the story about the work by Tesco, Plastic Energy, Sabic Innovative Polymers, Sealed Air and Bradburys.
“The flexible plastic material was first collected from the Tesco customers. This was then sent to Plastic Energy, who converted the used packaging into oil, through … pyrolysis,” Karen Laird writes in SP. “This recycled oil was used by Sabic in its production process as an alternative to traditional … materials to make new virgin-quality resin material. This material was supplied to [film supplier] Sealed Air, who developed one of its existing plastic packaging designs to use this material while still meeting all the performance requirements of Tesco’s cheese supplier, Bradburys.”
So… sounds easy, right?
And at the end of the day, the project is for seven different cheeses, with packaging containing a “minimum” of 30 percent recycled material.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m fully on board with a circular economy, especially projects tackling a more difficult item like film. But this one project shows just how much work will be involved.