NEWS: 'Lessons for plastic industry'

A sustainable drinks packaging firm has released its first circular economy 'State of Plastic Recycling' global report which found a 'lack of transparency' in the industry.

It found 'one third of adults report to be unsure if it takes more energy and natural resources to recycle plastic than paper'.

It also found 'a great lack of confidence in the recycling system, with one third of those surveyed believing only a quarter of what they put in their recycling bins is actually recycled'.

The State of Plastic Recycling Report surveyed 5,500 adults across Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States - of which 2,228 were from the UK.

The research, by YouGov, looked at their behaviours, knowledge and attitudes towards plastic packaging recycling.

It was commissioned by Hi-Cone which aims to become 100% recyclable, biodegradable or compostable by 2025. The firm makes ring carrier multi-packaging systems (pictured) for beer and soft drinks and has pledged to 'help create a world where plastic need never become waste'.

The research concluded that 'there is a great need to create a more transparent process and clear guidance for consumers'.

"The waste crisis is an issue of both packaging design and a lack of recycling culture and infrastructure"

UK adults were the most active recyclers overall, with 92% of those surveyed reporting to regularly recycle at home compared to 75% of adults across all territories.

Hi-Cone’s Sustainability Director Jennifer Perr said the report was 'important for the packaging industry as it works towards a circular economy'.

She said: “The waste crisis is an issue of both packaging design and a lack of recycling culture and infrastructure.

"With the help of this report, we can take a look at where the industry can better support consumers with education and resources, and start to collaborate with local governments and private recycling partners to improve the recycling system.

"By working together with consumers and recycling organisations, the industry will be better able to make progress towards creating a circular economy.”

Hi-Cone’s Vice President and General Manager, Shawn Welch, acknowledges the 'challenges the packaging industry faces as sustainability has become a major focus in the post-Blue Planet era'.

He added: “There is a great need to create a more transparent process and clear guidance for consumers when it comes to the development of a circular economy and better recycling practices.

"Only by understanding consumer beliefs, national programs and global goals, can the industry make real progress in sustainability.”

The report found: "Open communication between the industry and the public will help prevent further environmental risk down the road by stopping the current trend of solving one problem and replacing it with an even bigger one.

"Better communication will help us find a real solution.”

Welch backs a recent Green Alliance report that warns of the 'potential environmental risks of banning plastic packaging in favour of other materials that have larger carbon footprints and therefore can be seen as detrimental to the environment'.

He said: "The report uncovers common consumer misconceptions around packaging and recycling, identifying several starting points for the industry to come together.

"Hi-Cone has been making strides in its own sustainability journey. This includes the formation of several cross-industry partnerships, such as a recycling partnership with TerraCycle® in the UK, and the launch of their +50% post-consumer recycled content product, RingCycles™, which reduces the company’s use of virgin plastic by half.

"By releasing the report each year, Hi-Cone aims to provide a consistent and up to date resource of information to support the sustainability efforts of Hi-Cone, the packaging industry and beyond."

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