Tom Sene, Partnership Sales Director.
Having been in packaging since the tender age of 16 I have seen many different trends, some repeating and some innovative (a word often used but rarely exists!). In 2007 I was lucky enough to have been invited to the M&S plan A presentation to its packaging suppliers. As there is no plan B it was a tough challenge and has been met by many of us in the packaging industry and we continue to chip away at it. By 2025 everything in M&S will be widely recycled and we are all responsible for making that happen.
Rewinding back to the year 2000 I was a young(er) sales guy sitting in my MD’s office and he had a pack of bacon on his desk. He said to me ‘imagine if you could pack meat and products that require gas flushing into cardboard’ and to be honest I thought he was completely mad! Yet here we are some 15-20 years later and the challenge is still there larger than life, with around 300 million tonnes of plastic being produced each year and only 12% of it recyclable.
Some of the best packaging innovations I have seen have been where the materials are combined to create a format that is more widely recyclable. Of course, the holy grail is a fully recyclable pack and closed-loop models. Tetrapak, amongst many other corporate giants, are working towards high targets but the CPET manufacturers have a massive challenge facing them; the optical sensors do not pick up these trays in the waste stream so they are going straight to landfill. On top of this, these trays have been streamlined with cost taken out beyond belief, so it will not be just a technical issue but a massive commercial challenge for all of us; are we as consumers prepared to pay that bit more for our products?
Back to my MD and his apparent hair-brained idea for a pack of bacon well we are well and truly on the way. HALOPACK by Alexir is a carton board tray, with a liner that can be removed by the consumer, meaning that a higher percentage of the pack format will be recyclable. Not only can it be fully branded it can be gas flushed, placed in the freezer or refrigeration and we are lucky enough to see it in the supply chain now. Who would have thought that was possible 17 years ago?!