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Dow berates Nampak over recycled plastic switch

Former Closed Loop Recycling (CLR) boss Chris Dow has criticised bottler Nampak for a marked shift in its position on the use of recycled plastic in milk bottle manufacture.

His comments followed a statement by Nampak commercial director Neil Court-Johnston to food industry magazine The Grocer that there had been too much focus on the use of recycled material in plastic bottle production, and “it is too expensive and, in the current climate, businesses just can’t afford to pay a premium”.

Packaging was “either green and overpriced or cheap and ordinary”, Court-Johnston added.

Dagenham-based CLR shut in July with the loss of 100 jobs after briefly operating as Euro Closed Loop Recycling. A combination of higher prices for plastic recyclates and lower oil prices was a fatal cocktail for its recycled HDPE (rHDPE).

In a last-ditch effort to save CLR, Dow led a well-publicised but ultimately doomed campaign to get end users in the supply chain – dairies and supermarkets – to pay an extra 0.1p per bottle to help offset the crisis.

Dow, who had founded the company, said: “I am particularly concerned that some bottle blowing companies at the forefront of the Dairy Roadmap are seeing a benefit in turning against environmentally friendly packaging for 0.1p a bottle.

“I hope that as many of us as possible can send a message to the industry that this position is not only unacceptable and out of step with the community but it is potentially a harmful body blow to progress towards a circular economy.”

After The Grocer report, Court-Johnston issued a statement to MRW, saying that many retailers and brand owners were not in a position to pay a premium for rHDPE.

He said: “We live in a post-recession age and many consumers and business are tightening their belts. What the industry wants is a solution that benefits the environment and helps them to cut their costs: we believe that lightweighting presents this opportunity.”

Nampak’s environmental credentials were “second to none”, he added, and some major competitors were producing bottles with no recycled content.

“We are proud to have partnered M&S on a world-first to introduce rHDPE into plastic milk bottles and have gone further than others, achieving 30% rHDPE inclusion in milk bottles for the first time anywhere in the world.

“We are a founding supporter and member of the UK Dairy Roadmap and a multi-award winner for green and sustainable packaging products internationally,” he added.

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