SCGC and Partners Arrange “Circular Packaging for Real Seminar” Value Chain Collaboration to Seek Sustainable Packaging Solutions, Reduce Global Warming and Waste Problems
Urbanisation and lifestyle changes are the primary causes of the sharp rise in consumer goods packaging usage. Plastics play a significant role in the production of virtually all types of packaging because they possess long-lasting product properties, are lightweight, and have lower unit production costs than other materials. However, improper dumping and inefficient waste management have resulted in environmental issues and global warming. All sectors in the packaging production value chain are aware of the issues and are working to develop green innovations from the very beginning of the production process, as well as building collaborative networks to manage to reintroduce used plastic into the system, thereby minimising the chance of the plastic leakage and contaminating the environment.
K 2022, the world’s No.1 trade fair for plastics and rubber, was recently held in Düsseldorf, Germany, between 19 – 26 October 2022. Industry operators gathered to discuss the need to develop plastics for sustainability to minimise negative environmental effects and support the circular economy. On this occasion, SCGC, our corporate member, organised a seminar titled “Circular Packaging for Real” with Norner, a global market leader of industrial R&D services in polymers based in Norway, and the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), a global collaborative organisation dedicated to addressing the issue of used plastics. Stakeholders from across the value chain participated in the talk discussing eco-friendly packaging trends and solutions, fostering collaboration to seek packaging solutions, and ways to create future eco-friendly plastic innovations.
There were three major takeaways from the forum regarding seeking sustainable and environmentally friendly packaging solutions.
Development of eco-friendly packaging: Eco-friendly development approaches and current challenges
- Lightweight packaging: Rigid plastics are increasingly being replaced with more flexible and lighter plastics to reduce transportation weight, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- Design for recyclability: Multi-layered packaging has been replaced by packaging made from mono-material as a result of innovations that have made recycling easier. The critical challenge is developing mono-material packaging for further product applications while preserving their properties.
- Use of recycled content in packaging: Major global brands are increasingly adopting PCR in their packaging. Obtaining high-quality post-consumer plastics that can be traced back is a major challenge, as this is required for producing high-quality PCR that can effectively reduce environmental impact. On the plus side, however, people are now becoming more aware of waste sorting, and recycling technologies allow more varieties of plastic. Another difficulty is that PCR has an unpleasant odour, making it unsuitable for packaging for personal care or aromatic products. Currently, High-Quality Odourless PCR has been developed to accommodate brand owners.
- Consideration of alternative raw materials such as bio-based and biodegradable plastics: One method of lowering greenhouse gas emissions is to switch the raw materials used to make plastic from fossil fuels to plants. At the same time, making plastic biodegradable is another way to address the problems associated with single-use plastics.
SCGC, a leading chemicals business in Thailand and ASEAN, has developed environmentally friendly plastic innovations under the brand “SCGC Green PolymerTM, covering four solution goals: Reduce, Recyclable, Recycle, and Renewable, aligning with the packaging for sustainability trend in which packaging is made in a greener manner.
Recovery of waste into the system and increased recycling
Currently, there are tools that encourage entrepreneurs to be responsible for the packaging life cycle and are used to reintroduce resources and waste from production or consumer use into the production system to create a circular economy, also referred to as Extended Producer Responsibility or ERP. The key to ERP is the collaboration of manufacturers and consumers; in other words, brand owners or packaging producers play a crucial role in opting for recyclable packaging, designing visible labels, and implementing the retrieval system. At the same time, consumers must collaborate by sorting waste and returning it to the pickup point. In Europe, for instance, the Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) for beverage bottles is an effective incentive programme because it includes a visible return label on the bottle that allows consumers to return the bottles at a Reverse Vending Machine (RVM) and earn a certain amount of money or points in exchange as an incentive. Thus, the manufacturer can obtain recyclable plastics of high quality.
In addition, the Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW), a global collaborative organisation, puts a great deal of effort into creating projects and models to expand the waste collection implementation and increase recycling by focusing on areas with high rates of waste leakage into the environment. Efforts include partnerships with SCGC, EnviroSolutions & Consulting (ESC), City Development Initiative for Asia (CDIA), and Ba Ria – Vung Tau local authorities in Vietnam to explore and analyse the feasibility of enhancing waste management and recycling efficiency in the city of Vung Tau. By doing this, Vung Tau will serve as a role model for a smart city concerning waste management. The study is funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Regulations and policies to drive the circular economy
It is evident that many countries have enacted regulations and policies to promote the circular economy and environmental friendliness and motivate companies to lessen their environmental impact. The goal is to increase demand and add value to used plastics while simultaneously promoting green packaging. For instance, in 2022, the United Kingdom will impose a tax on plastic packaging that contains less than 30% recycled plastic, while China has a policy prohibiting non-biodegradable plastic bags. And the United States will likely begin imposing a new tax on virgin plastics in 2022.
Additionally, consumers are increasingly environmentally conscious and value eco-friendly packaging. Major global brands have declared their commitments to making packaging more environmentally friendly to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and reduce or achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions. SCGC also established a goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050, along with a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% compared to the base year of 2021 by 2030 using the “Low Carbon Low Waste” approach while putting more effort into resource efficiency based on the circular economy. The company aims to increase the annual sales volume of green polymer products to 1 million tonnes by 2030.
The transition to eco-friendly packaging remains a path that the entire value chain’s stakeholders must develop and drive together by educating and incentivising consumers. And, as all parties work toward the common major goal of reducing global warming and environmental impacts, we are on the right track toward achieving sustainability in the business, consumer, and environmental sectors.
The seminar was attended by representatives from AEPW, a global collaborative effort to reduce the problem of used plastics; Amcor, a global packaging company serving over 4,000 brands worldwide; Erema, a major global recycling machine manufacturer; Norner, a global market leader of industrial R&D services in polymers based in Norway; SCGC, a major chemicals business in Thailand and ASEAN; and Sirplaste, a leading plastic recycler in Portugal. The talk was well received, and many interested parties exchanged opinions.
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