New Single-Use Plastic Rules Represent ‘Alarm Bell’ for Food Packaging


New legislation banning single-use plastic items in Scotland represents an ‘alarm bell’ for food processors when it comes to the adoption of sustainable packaging methods, according to ULMA Packaging.

It follows the Scottish government’s outlawing of items such as cups, lids and takeaway containers made from expanded polystyrene in online and in-store sales regardless of being free or paid-for. The sustainability-minded move to ban these items is a further warning the food industry needs to be aware of and plan for accordingly in their packaging infrastructure.

This is according to ULMA, which is encouraging processors in the sector to audit their existing packaging machinery to ensure compatibility with recyclable and compostable plastics. Ed Williams, Sales Director at ULMA Packaging UK, explains: “The ‘war on plastic’ has been raging for years now, and welcome moves such as the Scottish Government’s ban on single-use plastics should be seen as an alarm bell hinting what is to come for food processors.

“As the well-known phrase goes, ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail,’ and this new legislation, coming soon after the Plastic Packaging Tax’s April introduction, highlights how the industry cannot afford to stand still in this ongoing drive towards more sustainable practices. While this ban may only cover smaller implements currently, we are confident predicting this is just the latest step in governmental sustainability strategy, with plastic packaging likely to come under further scrutiny.”

With laws surrounding the use of such materials likely to become even more stringent, ULMA is highlighting the difference in plastics used in packaging, and the importance of implementing machinery to work with sustainable solutions. Specifically, the company is drawing distinctions between traditional multilayer materials and mono-material films which are easier to separate and recycle, but require equipment to address their narrower optimal sealing range.

“It is important to note that not all plastics are the same, and when implemented in a considerate and sustainable manner, it can offer sustainability benefits to the supply chain,” concludes Ed. “For instance, its protective barrier qualities extend food spoilage times, reducing waste while reducing contamination risks to levels mandated in modern processing environments.

“However, for this to happen, the sealing process cannot be impaired, and this has long been an issue with greener plastics. Yet by adopting sealing technologies such as our own BETTER-SEAL™ system into new and existing machinery, these materials can be implemented into packaging lines, addressing both sustainability and hygiene concerns.”

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