How BerryWorld tackle plastic waste in the UK
We at BerryWorld are aware and conscious of how plastic affects our environment. Our product is a product of nature and sustainability is intrinsically at the heart of our decisions within the Packaging and New Product Development teams here at BerryWorld. Here we give an insight into why we use plastic packaging, the steps we are taking as a brand and with our customers to ensure we address the issue.
Our 2020 vision
BerryWorld’s goal is to ensure that 100% of our packaging in the UK is widely recyclable or home compostable and to introduce a viable alternative to RPET plastic punnets into at least one product line by 2020.
BerryWorld currently use RPET plastic punnets. The ‘R’ in RPET stands for recycled content, where a minimum of 50% and maximum of 100% of the plastic in our current punnets is derived from previously recycled content; both post-consumer and industrial. Our current punnets are also fully and widely recyclable with all local councils.
Understanding the bigger picture
In line with using plastic we are also helping to ensure our environmental impact is positive in other ways; for instance, when evaluating a new material, we must investigate and evaluate the carbon footprint of the entire product lifecycle, not simply the environmental impact of the product itself as often this can be deceiving; from raw material to end of life and beyond.
The use of plastic does have environmental benefits, for instance, plastic’s lightweight nature ensures transport is efficient and use of fuel is minimised. Shelf-life is also maximised as plastic enables us to achieve a gas barrier and therefore use life-extension technology such as MAP (modified atmosphere technology), these technologies are essentially films with micro holes which enable us to extend the shelf life of the product naturally through the control of CO2 and O2 levels in the punnet. Both methods protect us from unnecessary food waste providing consumers keep our products chilled. On average we can gain an extra day’s shelf life on berries using these methods. Other materials do not allow for this as they do not create a gas barrier like plastic, e.g. paper is porous, therefore using pulp or paper punnets could reduce shelf life vs. an RPET plastic punnet where MAP technology is being utilised.
The present and the future
We are confident that our current UK packaging format is the best fit for purpose and the environment now, as it:
- Protects our very delicate product
- Is lightweight, ensuring a low carbon footprint in transit
- Promotes the best shelf life when used in conjunction with life extension film technologies.
79% of our current packaging is fully and widely recyclable in the UK and 79% also contains previously recycled content. Our current packaging format also promotes a circular economy in which our packaging waste is seen as a valuable resource to recycling firms and plastic manufacturers.
Having said this, we know there is more to do, and we are working on many new materials both within and outside of the plastic industry to achieve our goals by 2020. We will continue to trial new, alternative materials and packaging types and welcome the introduction of materials outside of plastic should it be the right course of action for BerryWorld, our products, customers and most importantly the environment.
We would love to hear your thoughts and would welcome feedback in the hope of achieving more together for our environment through our use of packaging, so please do get in touch.