Making responsible packaging choices

Sabert UK & Ireland MD Alex Noake says plastic bans, taxes and other legislation have created a great deal of confusion for operators and the general public. Here, he tells Packaging Scotland why it is now more important than ever to ensure that food to go, takeaway, quick-service and delivery businesses are specifying and using the most sustainable and suitable packaging.

THE single-use plastic ban, applicable in Scotland since 2022, but only applied on 1st October 2023 in England, created considerable confusion for operators and their customers. The plastic packaging tax has been with us since April 2022, applied to all plastic packaging with less than 30% recycled content. This legislation has hastened a move towards packaging made from alternative materials.

If you want to be certain that you are making the correct packaging choices, ensure you are talking only to reputable distributors and manufacturers who will always take the time and trouble to ensure that they adhere to the latest legislation.

But beyond bans and taxes, also ensure that the packaging you choose is truly sustainably-focused, with recycled content, and materials sourced in accordance with all the appropriate accreditations – from FSC to DinCertco – which evidence sustainable sourcing and take into account end of life.

Throughout its 40-year history, Sabert has relentlessly innovated to proactively stay ahead of the game, developing and manufacturing sustainable packaging which exceeds expectations and legislative requirements. A good example was our early introduction of the first generation of viable paper cutlery, launched over two years ago. We have continued to develop and enhance our patented range of fully recyclable paper cutlery. With a smooth feel and pleasant mouth-sensation, this complete range delivers excellent performance with both hot and chilled food.

Packaging made from natural materials

We have a real focus on packaging make from ‘natural’ materials. We are not saying they are ‘plastic-free’, rather that some of our new ranges are made from natural fibre board, free from plastic lamination. The journey must be to significantly reduce the amount of plastic, rather than to eliminate it completely.

Our BePulp range is fully made from fiber of plant origin, a natural material which is both abundant and renewable. The sustainable, recyclable, leak-proof table-ready packaging range is designed to withstand any conditions, from freezers to ovens. Meanwhile, our Paper Collection of cartonboard packaging and beverage solutions is made using only sustainably sourced and fully recyclable materials. The Sabert Paper Collection helps to reduce energy consumption and landfill waste, while also making a positive impression on end-user customers with natural looking packaging that doesn’t sacrifice on strength or performance.

From recycled PET to PFAS-free

The constantly evolving legislative landscape also impacts on new product development. For instance, the required recycled content when applied to taxation – which is currently set at 30% – seems likely to increase, and Sabert is proud to say that when it comes to rPET, we have for some time exceeded 50% recycled content in substantially all our ranges.

We carefully select recycled PET from a reliable supply and use the best-established cutting-edge technology to guarantee total food safety and a high quality product with market-leading clarity. Meanwhile, 100% of Sabert’s internal waste is reused, which totally prevents plastic waste. Sabert also encourages all the plastic users to recycle and reuse to help close the loop toward a circular economy. A great example of this is our new Reusepac range that perfectly meets the needs of the food-to-go and delivered meals markets. Conceived as a reusable and durable solution this multi-functional and versatile range makes hot food look great in all circumstances, even after dishwashing.

Finally, it seems likely that products which include the man-made ‘forever chemicals’ called PFAS (per – and polyfluoroalkyl substances) will be banned by 2025, but again, we are ahead, as from Q1 2024 we will be offering a range of PFAS-free products.

An operator’s sustainability credentials can be significantly enhanced by making responsible packaging choices, so talk to us.