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January in review: DRS expansions, plastics chain investments, greenwashing crackdown and health cost warnings

#January in review: DRS expansions, plastics chain investments, greenwashing crackdown and health cost warnings

29 Jan 2024 — The year has begun with national deposit return scheme (DRS) launches, investments in plastic processing, health and sustainability launches, new greenwashing legislation and plastic bans, and delays in other policy areas. Meanwhile, researchers issued warnings about healthcare costs associated with widespread harmful packaging materials.

In the first of a new series for Packaging Insights, we recap the most significant stories of the month to ensure you haven’t missed key highlights from the packaging industry.

Among this month’s news, we look at some of the hottest topics, market dynamics and trends while speaking to some of the most prominent players in the industry.

New year, new DRS: Hungary begins recycling single-use drink containers with Tomra and Envipco machinery
Hungary ushered in 2024 by implementing its DRS for single-use drink containers, becoming the 15th European country to adopt this “transformative approach” to beverage container recycling. With Tomra, Envipco and the central system administrator for the DRS MOHU, Hungary aims to recycle 90% of plastic, glass bottles and metal beverage cans within three years in alignment with the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive.Workers in recycling facility.Neste expanded its chemical recyclign efforts by completing another series of tests processing liquefied plastic waste.

Metal coatings makeover: Inside AkzoNobel’s €32M investment for a bisphenol-free packaging market
Dutch coatings company AkzoNobel invested €32 million (US$35 million) in a new plant at its Vilafranca site in Spain to produce bisphenol-free coatings for the EMEA’s metal packaging industry. The company says the facility will use advanced automation and is designed according to high eco-efficiency standards — enabling a “step-change in energy and material efficiency.” We spoke to Christopher Bradford, marketing director of AkzoNobel’s Industrial Coatings business, to learn more.

Pulse project: Neste doubles liquefied plastic waste processing in test run for €111M expansion
Neste completed another series of tests processing liquefied plastic waste at its refinery in Porvoo, Finland, expanding its chemical recycling efforts. The test runs carried out in the second half of 2023 led to a doubled amount of liquefied plastic waste processed by Neste to more than 6,000 metric tons. Heikki Färkkilä, vice president for Chemical Recycling at Neste Renewable Polymers and Chemicals, told Packaging Insights that the company’s approach to chemical recycling allows it to refine a broad range of liquefied plastic waste.

China introduces stringent regulations for parcel delivery sector as e-commerce booms
China’s Ministry of Transport announced new stringent regulations for the country’s burgeoning parcel delivery sector to boost environmental sustainability and consumer protection. The measures are set to take effect on March 1. The new amendment from last week replaces the 2013 rules, mirroring the sector’s expansion. Central to the regulation is the push toward eco-friendly packaging. The updated rules encourage companies to adopt sustainable materials, countering the industry’s ecological footprint, which includes over 9 million tons of paper and 1.8 million tons of plastic annually.Pringles rolls. Pringles launched a new crisp tube made from recycled paper with a paper base as part of a £86 million (US$110 million) investment in new technology.

German plastic tax delay sparks mixed reactions among industry associations
The German plastic tax was postponed until 2025. Plastics industry associations are reacting with mixed responses, supporting the delay to refine tax details and condemning it due to the continued lack of addressing overproduction and pollution. Ingemar Bühler, managing director at Plastics Europe Germany, the association of plastics producers, told us more.

Australia Institute finds EU-style levy on plastic packaging waste could raise AUS$1.5B annually
Research from the Australia Institute, a public policy think tank, shows an EU-style tax on plastic packaging could raise nearly AUS$1.5 billion (US$1 billion) annually for the country. Analysis shows the federal government could raise AUS$1,300 per ton (~US$870) of virgin plastic through a levy on businesses that import or manufacture plastic packaging.

US researchers estimate US$249B in potential healthcare savings from Global Plastics Treaty measures
US researchers found that plastics contribute substantially to disease and associated social costs in the US. Researchers calculated disease burdens and subsequent costs resulting from chemicals used in plastic materials to accurately inform the tradeoffs involved in the ongoing reliance on plastic production as a source of national economic productivity, estimating an annual US$249 billion burden.

Pringles invests £86M in household recyclable paper-based packaging tubes
Pringles launched a new crisp tube made from recycled paper with a paper base, enabling the company to recycle the tubes from home collection. The tube also has a plastic lid that can also be recycled. The eco-packaging was tested by the company’s packaging experts to make sure it protects the saddle-shaped chips and keeps them fresh for 15 months as the previously used can. Green paint and half painted tube.The European Parliament approved a new directive banning greenwashing and deceptive product information to protect consumers.

Dutch circular economy platform Infinity Recycling raises €135M for advanced recycling and decarbonization
Netherlands-based Infinity Recycling, a growth capital platform investing in circular economy solutions, announced its Circular Plastics Fund (CPF) has now reached €135 million (US$146 million) in committed capital from a range of institutional investors based in Europe and elsewhere. The CPF had an initial target size of €150 million (US$163 million) and is an Article 9 “dark green” impact fund under the EU’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation. Dark green funds are those with environmental investment objectives.

“Companies can no longer trick people”: European Parliament adopts directive cracking down on greenwashing
The European Parliament approved a new directive banning greenwashing and deceptive product information to protect consumers from misleading marketing practices and promote sustainable choices. The directive, adopted with overwhelming support — 593 votes in favor, 21 against and 14 abstentions — aims to overhaul product labeling and restrict misleading environmental claims.

By Louis Gore-Langton

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