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No right or wrong material for packaging, Incpen says

Environmental differences between packaging materials are actually very small, according to research group the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (Incpen).

Concerns have been raised about the environmental merits of biodegradable plastic packaging, with its potential to confuse consumers, contaminate normal plastic recycling streams and negatively impact on agriculture for its raw material supply.

But Incpen director Jane Bickerstaffe told MRW all materials were welcome and it was good to have as wide a range as possible so packaging choices could be tailored to individual product needs.

She said: The top priority of packaging is to protect the product, whether you use biodegradable or recycled or virgin material. The environmental differences between them are very tiny and there will always be a trade off. There really is not a right and wrong type of material.

But she acknowledged that the industry was trying to reduce the environmental impact of all packaging and was aware of the need for clear labelling of materials.

The issue of what to do with the empties is coming out now but if we were to be having this discussion in 10 years time then hopefully there would be an obvious path for the used material, she said.

In recognition of the need for the packaging industry to work more closely with local government, Incpen has set up a meeting with the Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee in April to discuss packaging waste issues.


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