The future of pallet wrapping is 30% recycled – but not today

News of the Government’s forthcoming Plastic Packaging Tax has attracted criticism and praise in equal measure. While some – including Samuel Grant – see it as a commendable move towards more sustainable practices, it’s important not to overlook the bigger picture.

A good example is Stretchfilm – a wrapping plastic used to stabilise pallets for logistics. Samuel Grant specialises in recommending the most environmentally sustainable wrapping materials for clients, such as Samson Nano film.

This is a high-performance film designed to reduce overall plastic consumption and reduce the carbon footprint.

However this material does not contain the 30% recycled plastic required to avoid the new Plastic Tax and we need to explain why this remains the most environmental and cost effective way to wrap pallets.

High performance stretchfilms are manufactured using only the highest performance extrusion equipment, with the highest grades of virgin polymer. Unfortunately even the purest recycled material available today could not be processed by this machinery without causing damage.

This means that in order to include recycled material into stretchfilm you must use lower performance machinery that can cope with the contamination in the recycled polymer.

The end result is a stretchfilm containing 30% recycled material and 70% virgin polymer that has 50% lower performance than our Samson Nano film.

In other words, in order to use the 30% recycled material to wrap pallets you will not only consume more plastic but you will even consume more virgin plastic.

By using extra virgin polymer and valuable recycled polymer in greater quantities the increased costs are far more than the £200 saved by avoiding the tax.

So with such a negative message about recycled stretchfilm why do Samuel Grant Group strongly support the Plastic Packaging Tax?

1. Firstly the tax and the resultant increase in the value of waste plastic will take waste from landfill and introduce it into the recycling stream.

2. We are adding many plastic based products into our range that do benefit from the inclusion of recycled polymer such as polythene bags, pallet covers, polythene sheeting, recycled strapping and many more.

3. Most importantly, the demand for high grade recycled polymer is creating a whole new industry – the chemical recycling industry.

The majority of plastic recycling is currently done by mechanical recycling in the form of sorting, chopping up, washing, pelletising.

The new chemical recycling industry uses various innovative methods to reduce mixed plastic waste into the precursors for polymerisation – it turns plastic back into an equivalent to Oil.

The BBC have a good article on this here:-

The world’s first ‘infinite’ plastic – BBC Future

A good example of this is the new Recycling Technologies plant in Perth.

Innovate UK invests £1.2 million in chemical recycling technology | Resource Magazine

For now, the optimum environmental choice is to take advantage of high performance virgin films to reduce the amount of plastic used, resulting in minimum CO2 emissions and of course recycling the waste film into other plastic products.

When the plastic chemical recycling industry is working at scale Samuel Grant will be the first to bring 100% recycled high performance films to the market.

In the meantime our advisers are on hand to give the best possible advice to continue to get goods to their destination in perfect condition, using options that focus on performance, the least possible environmental impact, as well as advising on the best way to recycle virgin materials.