Report highlights renewability of plastics / More recycling infrastructure needed
A report has warned that while increasing amounts of plastic packaging containing recycled content are to be welcomed, consumer buy-in, and awareness of what can be recycled – and how – are fundamental to the success of plastic packaging’s circularity and sustainability credentials.

The report, Sector Insights Packaging: The shift towards a sustainable future, was produced by the mergers and acquisitions arm of Belgian professional services group BDO (Zaventem;, and the study argued that despite growing a preference for sustainability, consumers remained price-sensitive and favoured products that offered convenience.

Encouragingly, the BDO report said 73% of UK retailers last year used recyclable packaging compared with 39% in 2019. And nearly a fifth of consumers reported that they would stop shopping at retailers that did not use sustainable packaging.

However, when it came to recycling plastic packaging, the report cited the 2021 unboxing survey by UK-based Macfarlane Packaging (Coventry;, which revealed that while 73% of consumers said their goods arrived in recyclable packaging, 14% were unsure if this packaging was recyclable, demonstrating the need for clear labelling to tell people what products are recyclable.

Related: Recoup calls for more plastic packaging reclaim capacity

With a goal of halving residual waste over the next 20 years, BDO said increased infrastructure is needed to facilitate recycling and tell consumers what is recyclable and how they could recycle it.
Shoppers drive change
The BDO report also said that while the consumer’s preference had shifted to more sustainable sources, which requires alignment from the retailers and corporations, the oft-overlooked environmental costs of producing more “sustainable” materials include the potential for deforestation and greater water use in the creation of paper packaging.

BDO said it anticipated an increase in higher recycled content plastic packaging for most goods, with paper-based materials seeing added use, especially for more premium products.

“Ultimately, both materials have their strengths in different use cases, but the fact remains that continued innovation is required to create more sustainable solutions,” the report added.

Related: Plastics recycling advances in Europe, Africa, South America

The report also said plastic packaging remained the biggest sub-sector preference for deal activity in the UK over the past four years. Strategic trade acquisitions dominated M&A activity, while transactions over the past four years had mainly been domestic versus cross-border, “reflecting opportunity for consolidation in native markets”.
31.01.2023 [252056-0]
Published on 31.01.2023

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