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Packaging’s role in the circular economy


Now more than ever you’ll have noticed that the pressure is on for businesses to reduce their environmental impact. Traditionally, we’ve all worked and lived in linear economies – where we make, use and then dispose of products. But this isn’t working any more.

You might have heard the term circular economy banded around recently – essentially the idea is that we keep using a resource as long as possible. Extracting the maximum value from goods whilst in use and then recovering and re-purposing materials at the end of each cycle.

Why is a circular economy important?

Circular economies create opportunity for growth as industries will need to change and be disrupted to shift from the linear. Plus, developing a circular economy will allow us to:

  • Reduce waste
  • Drive greater resource productivity
  • Create a more competitive UK economy
  • Future-proof against resource scarcity
  • Minimise negative environmental impact

What role does packaging play in the circular economy?

Packaging plays a crucial role in creating circular economy and keeping our products fresh and safe.

However, it is environmentally challenging, as raw materials are at a premium and many governments don’t have the infrastructure to cope with the recycling requirements to cope with packaging waste.

For example, you can’t have missed that plastics and single-use packaging (like coffee cups) has been in the spotlight lately. If you watched the BBC’s Blue Planet II, you’ll have seen how it highlighted the sheer scale of sea pollution. By 2050, it’s expected that there could be more plastic in the sea than fish, which is frightening.

The good news is that people are paying attention to this and are starting to act. Packaging isn’t the enemy by any means – we just need to be more innovative and consider how we use packaging now.

Taking steps towards a sustainable supply chain and a circular economy

So, if you’re using packaging in your supply chain, you need to start thinking responsibly. We are too…

For example, here at Network Packaging, we’re already investigating biodegradable and compostable films for our flagship Airsac inflatable packaging range (which is already 100% recyclable).

We’re also promoting paper based packaging systems and working with customers to engineer effective recycled content boxes. Plus, the efficiencies we can identify in the supply chain can contribute to minimising your CO2 output, as well as packaging waste.

Support with sustainability

If you’re looking to make your supply chain more sustainable, we can help. Whether you work in ecommerce, 3PL or industrial sectors our experts can help you analyse your packaging and find ways that help you head towards a circular economy.

To learn more, get in touch today on 01902 496 666, by emailing us or completing our contact form.


WRAP and the Circular Economy 

Unilever’s Position on Packaging and the Circular Economy

The Guardian More Plastic that Fish in the Sea by 2050