Sustainable Packaging Advances

Craig Turner, Managing Director at Southgate Packaging, looks at how the worlds of packaging and sustainability must co-exist and the technologies and products that allow this.


Sustainability has been a real hot topic in the packaging industry for many years. It has an impact on all parts of the supply chain and continuously drives innovation. While the impact of the pandemic is still being felt within the industry, looking ahead to 2022, sustainable packaging remains the most desirable requirement with consumers leading the demand.


With the introduction of the government’s Plastic Packaging Tax in April 2022, offering sustainable packaging solutions is only going to increase in urgency for the predicted 20,000 producers and importers of plastic packaging it is expected to impact.


Sustainable packaging is on every manufacturing and distribution company’s agenda. Therefore, as an industry, we are turning to advances in and adoption of digital technologies to meet the latest requirements and bring fresh alternatives onto the market.


At Southgate, sustainable product innovation is a priority. We always strive to offer sustainable alternatives to customers across our wide range of our products. We recently launched a recognition scheme, The Green High Five, to show products that offer at least one of the five criteria: sustainable, recyclable, reusable, biodegradable and waste reductive. This allows businesses to easily opt for packaging they know meets their own sustainability goals.


Earlier this year, we also launched our Eco Brochure as part of our move towards ‘digital first’ catalogues. These are designed to give our customers an environmentally conscious selection of products, whilst also reducing our environmental impact by reducing the amount we are printing.


Technology plays a key role in the manufacturing of our sustainable packaging products. Our range of airwave machines manage the cushion speed, inflation rate and amount needed to minimise wastage. This reduces operator time and creates a sustainable solution to void fill. Thereby, containing 98% air and using minimal material without compromising on product protection. Offering compostable, paper and carbon neutral films also ensure that the consumer can responsibly dispose of packaging waste.


A big part of the industries mission for sustainability is focused on reducing the quantity of excess plastic and finding paper alternatives, especially with the introduction of the Plastic Packaging Tax. However, this is not necessarily the answer for the best sustainable solution. This brings us back to the plastic vs paper debate which has been dominating the industry for a few years. At Southgate, whilst we acknowledge the benefits of paper products and the ease of recyclability, we are firm believers that ‘plastic is not evil’ and can have equal benefits when sourced responsibly – which is hopefully what the tax will now encourage.


We are seeing developments being made almost daily in sustainable material alternatives. As we move towards achieving a more circular economy, there will be many new advancements which is very exciting for the industry. As technology continues to improve, this will only continue to bring new alternatives to the market and meet the desired environmental requirements for both businesses and consumers.

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