Ismail Industries to invest in packaging

Ismail Industries to invest in packaging

The successful conglomerate is creating a Rs1.5 billion PVC plant.

At the risk of starting with a personal anecdote, this reporter would like to point out that they are old enough (or young enough, depending on how you look at it), to remember their very first school trip to the Candyland factory. The nice employees at the factory had given the children as much free candy as they wanted, which as you can imagine, meant an extremely over excited bus of school children.

But believe it or not, tactics like that worked and Candlyland, which had only started in 1988, very quickly became and still is a mainstay in school tuck shops and canteens across Pakistan. Its jingles have been seen by adoring children on channels like Cartoon Network, and the parent company, Ismail Industries, has done well off the back of that brand. 

To add to all of these positives, it seems that demand is set to only grow further. On March 15, 2021, Ismail Industries announced that it was to set up a new polyester resin (PET resin) manufacturing plant, with an annual capacity of 108,000 tons. To do this, the parent company is going to invest Rs1.5 billion through equity in the subsidiary company Ismail Resin, through which the plant will be made. “This new manufacturing company will not only meet the local demand of PET Resin in Pakistan but would capture the global market as well,” the company said in its notice.

So, who are Ismail Industries? Technically, the origins of this family affair begin much earlier, around the time of independence, when one Haji Ahmed Chandia set up a factory in Sukkur. This did quite poorly, so in 1964, that factory was scrapped, and along with his four sons Chandia founded Union Biscuit Private (Ltd) in Karachi. This did quite well – up until a point that is. Chandia’s son and heir to his business, Mohammad Ismail, had an early death that shook the company which found itself floundering for a few years before completely falling apart by the 1980s. 

However, the family’s business spirit had not died yet, and two of Ismail’s sons, Mohammad Ismail and Maqsood Ismail, decided to set up a brand new business called Ismail Industries in 1988. The third son joined the company in 1994 after finishing his PhD at Wharton and a short stint in the IMF, and the reader might recognise him as die-hard PML-N supporter and briefly the country’s finance minister in 2018, Miftah Ismail. Today, Mohammad Ismail is the chairman of the group, Maqsood Ismail is the CEO, and Miftah Ismail is an executive director. 

The parent corporation has four major companies. The first is Candyland which was launched in 1990. It introduced soft jellies in Pakistan (think the classic Chilli Milli), along with other iconic brands like Fanty, Super Twister, and Paradise. The second is Bisconni, launched in 2002. This company offered perhaps the greatest addition to Pakistani cuisine: Cocomo ( with the popular tagline ‘Cocomo, mujhe bhi do’). It also introduced Rite, a knockoff of Oreo biscuits (before Oreo became more widely accessible in the country). The third company, SnackCity, was set up in 2006, and mostly manufacturer Kurleez (crisp packets). Ismail Industries exports its products to over 40 countries in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.

Finally, the fourth company has nothing to do with food: Astro Films makes cast polypropylene (CPP) and bi-axially oriented polypropylene (BOPP). The Astro Films family comprises three brands: Astro Pack, Plastiflex Films Pvt. Limited, and Astro Plastics Pvt. Limited.

Both CPP and BOPP used in food and beverage applications like snack and confectionery are also used for lamination and bag making. BOPP is derived from polypropylene, which is the world’s second most used commodity plastic. The ‘biaxially-oriented’ part comes from the fact that the polypropylene is stretched flat in two directions. BOPP films can be white, metal-colored, or clear. That is why it is often used to make transparent labels for clear containers. The material is also waterproof, and non-toxic, which makes it very useful as bottle labels, jar labels, and canning labels. CPP film is also derived from polypropylene, but has gained some popularity over the more widely used BOPP because it has a soft film, and some small barrier property differences.

But now, Ismail Industries is focused on PET, also known as Polyethylene Terephthalate. It is a clear, strong and lightweight plastic which belongs to the polyester family. It is typically called “polyester” when used for fibers or fabrics, and “PET Resin” when used for bottles, jars, containers and packaging applications. Because it is shatterproof, and retains freshness, and is inert (ie.does not react with food products), it is very popular, and is most commonly used to package carbonated soft drinks and water.

So, is Ismail Industries considering branching into the drinks segment? It is not entirely far off: after all, its financials show that its sales have increased year-on-year, and it has not made a single loss after tax since 2004 (the last publically available figures). On the other hand, the company did have a rough 2020,: as it pointed out in its annual report: “The cost pressure on net profit is mainly sourced through overall high inflation, high energy cost & worsening rupee-dollar parity. Rise in prices of basic inputs due to sky-scraping food inflation, stiff competition, causing sizeable increase in marketing spent and other related factors has exorbitantly raised cost of doing business.” That may be true, but children (and plenty of adults) across the country are not going to stop buying candy and Cocomo. Perhaps a new business segment is due.

News Sources: Pakistan Today

Siegwerk, Rotopack Form JV in Pakistan

Siegwerk, Rotopack Form JV in Pakistan

Dirk Weissenfeldt, VP Business Unit Flexible Packaging EMEA at Siegwerk and Aamir Hirani, founder of Rotopack during the signing ceremony. (Source: Siegwerk)

Siegwerk announced the signing of a joint venture agreement with Rotopack, a leading supplier in the printing and packaging industry in Pakistan. The jointly founded new company Siegwerk Pakistan Ltd. will start its business in Q2 of 2022.

The joint venture contract has been officially signed on Oct. 13, 2021, in Karachi, where the new company will be located to serve customers across the country.

“As the fifth most populated country in the world, Pakistan is a strategically important market for us,” said Dirk Weissenfeldt, VP Business Unit Flexible Packaging EMEA at Siegwerk. “The joint venture partnership with Rotopack allows us to not only significantly strengthen our footprint in South Asia but also to benefit from Rotopack’s domestic market know-how and network.”

The partners have found the future location of their joint venture in the Karachi area. The construction activities are currently under way, and it is expected that Siegwerk Pakistan Ltd. can start operations on April 1, 2022. The production will focus on inks and coatings for flexible packaging applications first.

Going forward, the production will also be expanded to other packaging segments, including water-based and UV products. The partners are currently assembling a local team of local experts and specialists for starting operations in spring next year. The new team members will be trained by Siegwerk experts in Turkey and Germany over the next few weeks.

“Since more than 10 years, we deliver high-quality products and solutions to our customers throughout Pakistan that create value and competitive advantage while positively impacting the world we live in,” explains Aamir Hirani, founder of Rotopack. “With the joint venture partnership with Siegwerk we can now build on our expertise helping to make Siegwerk’s high-quality inks and coatings available to the market as well.”

“We are happy to have found a partner with such deep-rooted experiences in the domestic printing and packaging market like Rotopack, who also matches our values and vision,” added Weissenfeldt.

News Sources: Inkworldmagazine

Pakistan’s first plastic road made with 10-tonne bottles goes functional

Pakistan’s first plastic road made with 10-tonne bottles goes functional

1-km road paved with recycled plastic is 2-3 times more durable than ordinary road

Islamabad: Pakistan’s Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Monday inaugurated the first of its kind road in the country paved with plastic waste.

A large number of youngsters, particularly school kids participated in the launching ceremony.

They were holding placards with slogans to protect environment from plastic waste. The project, completed under public-private partnership (Capital Development Authority, Coca Cola and National Incubation Centre), aims to provide solution to the country’s hugely mismanaged plastic waste problem which is highest (in percentage) in South Asia. 

“Pakistan produces 55b plastic bags annually”

In Pakistan, according to a report shared by the organisers on the occasion, around 55 billion plastic bags are produced in the country every year and most of these single-use non-biograded bags find their way to open garbage dumps, landfill sites or municipal sewers.

The new concept of a plastic road, which though is not new in many countries, will create a scalable solution for plastic to be used in high-value production, said an expert.

‘10 tonnes of plastic bottles utilised’

Fahad Ashraf, VP for Coca-Cola Pakistan and Afghanistan said; “This road belongs to all Pakistanis, and all the people who care about progress.

The road utilised about ten tones of plastic bottles collected for this purpose and serves as a model for nation-wide practice, he further said.
Sheikh Rashid said the road was in line with the Pakistan government’s vision for a clean and green nation.

He said: “Prime Minister Imran Khan has given us the vision to find solutions that serve the common man. I’m happy to say that this road is part of the prime minister’s vision because it provides jobs, saves the government repairs cost and above all, protects our

A global phenomenon.

The plastic road is a global good-practice and is said to last about twice as long as a normal road. 

It will help protect the environment, but if scaled up to other roads in rural areas, urban centres and national highways, the impact to both development and environment will be large scale, not cosmetic.

Parvez Abbasi representing the strategic leadership of the National Incubation Center (NIC) said, “We now must ensure all partners who are for a better planet step in and support this public-private partnership by doing their part.”

News Sources: Gulf News

Global Corrugated Packaging Market expected to reach approximately USD 317 Billion in 2023

Global Corrugated Packaging Market expected to reach approximately USD 317 Billion in 2023

Global Corrugated Packaging Market expected to reach approximately USD 317 Billion in 2023, growing at a CAGR of slightly above 3.5% between 2017 and 2023”
— Zion Market Research

With the presence of a large pool of participants, the global corrugated packaging market is displaying a highly competitive business landscape, finds a new research report by Zion Market Research (ZMR). Smurfit Kappa Group, Mondi Group, Lee & Man Paper Manufacturing Ltd, Nine Dragons Paper (Holdings) Limited, and DS Smith Plc are some of the key vendors of corrugated packaging across the world. These players across corrugated packaging market are focusing aggressively on innovation, as well as on including advanced technologies in their existing products. Over the coming years, they are also expected to take up partnerships and mergers and acquisitions as their key strategy for business development, states the corrugated packaging market study.

This review is based on a report by Zion Market Research, titled “Corrugated Packaging Market by Flute Profile (A Flute, B Flute, C Flute, E Flute, F Flute) by Combined Board (Single Face, Single Wall, Double Wall, Triple Wall) by Box Type (Slotted Boxes, Telescope Boxes, Rigid Boxes, Folder Boxes) by End-Use Industry (Pharmaceuticals, Electronics, Automotive, Consumer Goods, Chemicals) by Region (North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, Middle East & Africa) – Global Industry Perspective, Comprehensive Analysis and Forecast, 2017 – 2023.”- Report at

In a major event witnessed across corrugated packaging market, on September 4th 2018, De Jong Packaging Holding, a Holland-based corrugated board & solid cardboard packaging product manufacturer, acquired Gaster Wellpappe, a German firm producing corrugated board for die-cut packages and constructive packaging. Analysts believe that the strategic move is likely to help the former expand its production capacity in Europe.

As estimated in this report, the global corrugated packaging market stood at US$ 250 billion in 2017. Witnessing a tremendous rise during the period from 2017 to 2023, the revenue in this corrugated packaging market is expected to reach US$ 317 billion by the end of the forecast period.

Escalating Trend For Environment Friendly Packaging To Spur Market Size

“Mounting customer preference for sustainable & eco-friendly packaging along with strict laws governing product packaging is likely to boost the growth of corrugated packaging market in the years ahead,” says the author of this corrugated packaging market study. Apart from this, meteoric penetration in cosmetics, electronics, consumer goods, pharmaceuticals, automotive, chemicals, and food & beverage sectors will further drive the demand for corrugated packaging in the ensuing years.

Poor barrier property of corrugated packaging materials, however, has restricted its use. In addition to this, manufacturers of liquid products avoid the use of corrugated packaging as a result of this. Reportedly, humid and moist weather conditions are found to reduce the durability of corrugated boxes. All the aforementioned factors are projected to hinder the expansion of corrugated packaging market.


The Future of Sustainable Packaging

The Future of Sustainable Packaging

How the circular economy is revolutionizing the plastics packaging industry

Plastic packaging has a sustainable future. Delivering effective, circular packaging solutions that are both convenient for consumers and don’t negatively impact the planet is a challenge packaging manufacturers and global food and beverage brands are stepping up to.

But plastic packaging has a terrible public perception. Hashtags like #plasticfree and #noplastic abound on social media. The plastic industry is facing both the emotional issue of consumers influencing brands to move away from plastic, and the technical issue of insufficient infrastructure to collect, sort and recycle plastic waste.

Yet while alternative packaging materials may be more socially acceptable, are they really “better”? Will the current popularity of alternatives to plastic be short-lived, thanks to their depletion of natural resources and negative environmental impact, including larger greenhouse gas emissions?

Global Forest Watch reports that “40 per cent of global deforestation is commodity driven”, with paper packaging a contributing factor. From 2001 to 2018, 361 million hectares of trees were destroyed, equivalent to a 9 per cent reduction of the world’s forests [1]. Over the same period, paper consumption increased by 26 per cent, with 55 per cent of its volume attributed to packaging [2].

Glass packaging production also negatively impacts on the environment. The proportion of silica – the mineral known as quartz sand – in the manufacture of glass is about 70 per cent. Studies on the natural reserves of silica indicate that extraction and high consumption of this mineral damages the environment and leads to the depletion of its reserves. Moreover, the high melting point of the material in glass packaging production is a source of significant CO2 emissions, and impacts negatively on climate change.

PET packaging is the most popular choice for mineral water, still and carbonated drinks, beer, dairy products, and vegetable oils. PET is also widely used in medicine as well as cosmetics and household chemicals. It is cheap, light, easily moulded and branded, non-breakable, has high barrier properties and does not impair the product’s quality. Thanks to these advantages, the consumption of plastic packaging continues to grow. According to a Smithers report, global plastic packaging consumption was projected at 58.6 million tonnes in 2019 and is forecast to grow during 2019-24 at an annual rate of 3.5 per cent, to 69.8 million tonnes [3]. According to Euromonitor International research, the total share of plastic packaging is about 60 per cent of the entire packaging market.

While studies show that consumers prefer this type of packaging, it is necessary to find multifaceted solutions to show that plastic can be both convenient and sustainable. In most European countries, PET is already widely recyclable in standard collections, giving it a valuable second life as recycled PET, or rPET.

Global PET and rPET packaging producer RETAL* has more than 20-years of expertise in plastics manufacturing, and is increasingly active in circular economy initiatives and the promotion of public awareness of used PET packaging. Anatoly Martynov, President of RETAL, asserts that how we manage plastic packaging beyond its first use underpins everything and impacts everyone. Insufficient understanding by consumers of their responsibilities for the disposal of used packaging and poor collection infrastructure can both lead to serious problems of environmental pollution. In addition, the long-term payback period of recycling projects is the reason for the insufficient development of the recycling industry.

The goal for every PET packaging company is to minimise its negative environmental impact. RETAL works closely with its global customers to ensure that its packaging meets the strictest criteria. The company is also active in various sustainability-driven plastic packaging value chain organisations, including PETcore, the Circular Plastics Alliance and Waste Free Oceans.

On the technical side, RETAL has developed the capacity and expertise to produce preforms from up to 100 per cent recycled PET, and continuously works towards creating innovative, patented “design to recycle” solutions that use lightweighting and tethered closures.

NEO GROUP, part of RETAL Industries, is also actively involved in the implementation of the circular economy. One of its main projects is the launch of a production line that will produce PET resin containing rPET. The first phase is planned to be completed in 2020. With consistent investment in additional lines planned over the next five years, the recycling of used PET bottles at NEO Group is expected to reach 4.5 billion units per year. Thanks to the new lines, a significant share of the European market’s demand for recycled content will be produced by NEO.

Since 2015, NEO GROUP** has participated in the Horizon 2020 program, which promotes greater resource efficiency and reduced environmental impact for waste by developing beneficial workflow for recycled materials, industrial by-products and by using rPET. Since 2018, programme participants, including NEO GROUP, have been actively working on chemical recycling. This technology will boost the ability to recycle “contaminated” PET, which cannot currently be recycled using mechanical methods. Practically 100 per cent of used PET can be chemically recycled, and it can be recycled unlimited times. This is a revolutionary technology that truly supports the circular economy.

All these factors come together to illustrate how RETAL is active in closing the loop, contributing to environmentally responsible solutions and meeting the requirements of the EU Single-Use Plastics Directive.

While no single business can effectively tackle climate change or solve the problem of environmental pollution by itself, a joined-up approach to plastics circular economy that takes into consideration all the relevant stakeholders will allow PET packaging to realise its true value, and change its negative perception to a positive potential.

* RETAL develops and manufactures high-quality polyethylene terephthalate (PET) packaging solutions, including preforms, closures, containers and films. Globally active, RETAL supplies customers in over 60 countries worldwide. Strongly focused on quality management standards, RETAL is ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 22000 accredited. Parent company RETAL Industries Ltd  is headquartered in Limassol, Cyprus.

** NEO Group is a PET manufacturer for food and beverage packaging. With the introduction of its third production line in 2018, the company has become one of the largest PET manufacturers in Europe. NEO GROUP expanded into the chemical recycling of PET waste in 2011 in order to provide a complete, responsible service to its clients, with NEOPOLYOL also popular for use in the construction industry. NEO GROUP serves around 300 companies in over 30 countries.


Nestlé announces soft plastics recycling trial

Nestlé announces soft plastics recycling trial

Announced at the National Plastics Summit in Canberra on 2 March 2020, Nestlé and Australian recycler iQ Renew are launching a trial that aims to collect, sort and process soft plastics from over 100,000 homes through kerbside recycling and therefore be diverted from landfill. The trial aims to turn soft plastics from a waste to a resource. The project will commence with a pilot of 2000 households, with plans to expand to over 100,000 households later in the year, processing approximately 750 tonnes of soft plastic that would otherwise be sent to landfill.

“Most material recovery facilities (MRFs) can’t separate soft plastic from other items in household recycling, so while soft plastic can be recycled, what we lack is a robust, scalable system to collect and process it using existing kerbside collection. We’ve designed the trial so that at the front end, it will support householders to pre-sort their soft plastic and get it into a recycling stream, while behind the scenes, we’ll test using the sorted soft plastic as a resource in a range of different manufacturing processes,” said Danial Gallagher, iQ Renew CEO.

The trial will uncover how households understand soft plastics collection and provide insight into how it affects in-home recycling behaviour. Locations for the trial are currently under consideration.

“While we are working to make all our packaging recyclable, we know that soft plastics is an area that needs greater focus and collaboration. We need to find ways to drive more recycling here. As Nestlé plans to reduce our virgin plastic use and increase the amount of food-grade recycled plastic packaging we use, we need plastic to be collected. Given the low amount of soft plastic collected from consumers today, we hope this trial can unlock the significant potential for soft plastic packaging to become a resource,” said Sandra Martinez, Nestlé Australia CEO.


Exploring the issues of switching to plastic alternatives in packaging

Exploring the issues of switching to plastic alternatives in packaging

The appealon zero plastic, especially  for  consumer goods packaging is accelerating although slowly, according  to a report produced by the UK-based Green Alliance Circular Economy Task Force (CETF) comprising of members including  Kingfisher, Viridor, Walgreens Boots Alliance, SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, and Veolia.

The pressure is weighing down on companies in the retail and in the manufacturing segments, and this is due to the increasing demand to ditch plastics, if not significantly minimise their use amid the flurry of plastic pollution congesting the environment.

The report, authored by Green Alliance’s Senior Policy Adviser, Libby Peake, says that companies, particularly in the grocery sector, that use plastic packaging “ are now under great scrutiny, and often public pressure, to stop using the material. “

While companies in this sector, specifically, are starting if not already implementing ways to use substitutes for plastics in their packaging, “these decisions are driven by consumers’ attitudes towards plastics and corporate strategies combined with a desire to be seen to be acting quickly on concerns about plastic,” the report added.

However, these decisions are often made “without considering the environmental impact of the substitute materials chosen, or whether or not there is adequate collection and treatment infrastructure in place for them, “the report said.

An example stated, quoting a supermarket representative, that customers would suggest replacing plastics (in the soft drink section) with other packaging types like glass or the six-layered carton packaging type (popularised by a Swiss packaging company, TetraPak). However, the interviewee lamented that such packaging types are not recyclable in their area.

On the other hand, other plastic alternatives may not exactly be more eco-friendly in that the carbon footprint in sourcing the raw materials and in producing them could be greater than producing conventional plastic materials, as well as biodegradability is either not assured or that they can still leave residues in the environment (thus, becoming microplastics).

One option that is considered by the retail and manufacturing sectors is incorporating more recyclable content into the product/packaging as well as increasing their recyclability.

“. The speed this can happen is currently constrained by problems with the supply of adequate amounts of recycled material, “the report said, citing also of an opinion by a respondent that “the lack of sources of recycled content [which] causes a bottleneck and therefore drives the price up significantly.”

Carbon footprint of paper bags 

The use of single-use plastic for products such as fresh produce, frozen foods, ready meals and the like is also urged to be discontinued and to be replaced with single-use paper or other biobased or compostable materials. According to an audit by Greenpeace International a number of multinational companies are switching to more environmentally friendly materials. About eight UK supermarkets, including Morrisons, Tesco and Sainsbury’s have abandoned plastic packaging to use paper bags for loose produce and bakery items.

The report however claims that paper bags can have “much higher carbon impacts, though this can depend on material sources and product specification”, citing a 2011 study for the Northern Ireland Assembly, which found that “paper bags generally require four times as much energy to manufacture as plastic bags”. The report also cites another study from Denmark that paper bags, if they are reused as bin liners, they do not perform as well on other indicators. “When factors like ozone depletion, human and ecosystem toxicity and water and air pollution are accounted for, a paper bag would need to be reused 43 times to have a lower impact than the average plastic bag, “, according to the Danish study.

Vague perception on environmentally friendly materials in packaging

Respondents to the UK report, meanwhile, are observed to be unclear about what biobased, compostable and biodegradable mean.

Commonly, consumers perceive plant based compostables as most environmentally friendly among other packaging materials, including paper, glass, cardboard, conventional plastic and aluminium, according to a 2019  grocer survey of more than 1,000 individuals.

Cost in replacing conventional plastics with alternatives, as well as the suitability of the material is presenting drawbacks, according to some retailers and brands. Moreover, the lack of public understanding on biodegradables “could result in the mismanagement of used packaging”, one respondent also opined. A business suggested: “We need to work together as a waste value chain to decide what we do with compostable packaging, where we should use it and how we should mark it so that it can be identified readily.”

Taking baby steps while seeing the bigger picture

There is, however, other ways some businesses and retailers are implementing to push the “environmentally friendly” approach to use less plastics, such as offering refill and reusable containers options. Some stores are also encouraging customers to bring their own containers. The report however noted that, specifically for the in-store refill model, respondents expressed concern. “Part of the concern with the in-store refill model is the reduction in shelf life for some products, with one noting that some fresh drinks would last just two days if poured into a customer’s own bottle, compared to 20 to 30 days in a factory sealed container, “ the report stated, adding that many respondents suggest exploring other refill options, which might be better, for certain products.

Among the suggestions included, “a deposit return scheme designed around returning and refilling bottles, rather than recycling”; and “a home delivery, such as the Loop system, whereby used containers are picked up when new products are dropped off. The empty bottles are then cleaned and reused by the supplier”.

At the end of the day, there are important issues that need to be addressed when implementing systems that use less to zero plastics for packaging. “Limiting losses, breakages and emissions from transport, will be vital to ensuring any such systems are environmentally beneficial, “are some factors, which the report stresses.

In effect, tackling the issue of plastic pollution by using fewer plastics or their alternatives in packaging requires concerted effort from all stakeholders. The report infers the overall sentiment of the businesses it interviewed: “The government, and society as a whole, should not only be thinking about tackling plastic pollution when considering appropriate interventions, but also about other materials and their impacts, not least around climate change”.


Greenpeace Survey of Material Recovery Facilities Makes Some Valid Points

Greenpeace Survey of Material Recovery Facilities Makes Some Valid Points

Greenpeace makes some valid points in its latest comprehensive survey of the nation’s 367 material recovery facilities (MRFs). Greenpeace USA released the results of the survey last week, and it pretty much tells us what we in the plastics industry have known for a couple of decades: The number scheme for seven different types of plastics continues to be a thorn in our collective side.

As it was explained to me a few months back by an industry colleague, the numbers on the various plastics used for packaging and single-use items such as cups, drinkware, take-out food containers, and utensils, are there to identify the type of material the item is made from. The numbers do not indicate the recyclability of the items. I think a lot of consumers remain confused about that. PET #1 (water and soda bottles, etc.) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) #2 (milk and juice jugs, etc.) are the most recyclable of the seven numbers.

Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) film, used in retail T-shirt bags, bread wrappers, paper towel wrappers, and so forth, are currently being collected through in-store recycling bins, which seems to be a pretty successful method if the full-to-overflowing bins I see in the stores where I shop are any indication. But it is still a work in process . . . and in progress.

While progress is being made in the collection and recycling of PET and HDPE and, to some extent, LDPE, it’s not good enough or fast enough for the people at Greenpeace USA. They may have a point. The survey Greenpeace conducted found that common plastic pollution items, including plastic tubs, cups, lids, plates, and trays, may not be labeled as recyclable according to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requirements for products and labeling. Additionally, many full-body shrink sleeves that are added to PET #1 and HDPE #2 bottles and jugs make those products non-recyclable, as well.

“This survey confirms what many news reports have indicated since China restricted plastic waste imports two years ago—recycling facilities across the country are not able to sort, sell, and reprocess much of the plastic that companies produce,” said Jan Dell, independent engineer and founder of The Last Beach Cleanup, who led the survey of plastics acceptance policies at the 367 MRFs.

Those of us in the plastics industry have known that for three decades. It’s not just sorting the various types of plastics that is so insanely difficult; it’s sorting all the plastics from the paper, metals, glass (much of it broken), textiles and myriad other things (including a pet python) that get thrown into recycle bins that wreak havoc on the MRFs.

Who in their right mind thought that throwing multiple types of materials into a single container would be simple? Hiring dozens of people to stand next to fast-moving conveyor belts trying to grab the right stuff off the line so it can be relegated to the next level of the process is even crazier.

Greenpeace also takes issue with labeling. It identified numerous examples of companies such as Target, Nestlé, Danone, Walmart, Procter & Gamble, Aldi, SC Johnson, and Unilever using misleading labels. Greenpeace has asked these companies to correct their labels. Some changes are underway, said Greenpeace, but it plans to file formal FTC complaints if the change doesn’t happen.

I have to admit that I agree with Greenpeace on this issue. What is the point of saying that a plastic item is “compostable” when it is not? It may compost somewhere, in an industrial composting facility, perhaps, if you can find one that will take so-called “compostable” plastic items. Most municipalities do not have a separate bin for curbside pickup of compostables of any type, much less plastic. The same goes for biodegradable, which is why products in California cannot say “biodegradable” on them. Yes, they will biodegrade in a year or 10 years as long as they are left out in the open environment. And no, that’s not better than 1,000 years, as I once read.

So to all those brand owners who are putting “compost me” on their various plastic items, or sticking a “biodegradable” label on a product, which means it’s okay if it’s left on the beach or along the roadside because it will soon go away, please stop! What you’re doing is “greenwashing.” You’re making things worse, not better!

The Greenpeace survey revealed that many MRFs only accept two types of post-consumer plastic items—PET #1 and HDPE #2 bottles and jugs—because the items have sufficient market demand and domestic processing capacity. Maybe that’s all they should accept. If the #3 to #7 plastic items cannot be labeled as recyclable because they have “low acceptance by MRFs, minimal to negative material value, and negligible processing capacity in the U.S.,” then perhaps we need to question why we’re even throwing these items into the recycling stream in the first place.

Some plastic items—not just those for recycling but for composting and biodegradability, as well—say to check locally on the instruction label. So the average consumer is supposed to get online, look for the nearest composting facility, call them and ask about the compostability of a plastic item, or call the MRF and ask which types of plastics they sort out for recycling and which go to the landfill? If we have #3 to #7 going to the landfill or incinerator, then why are we even putting these items in the blue bins? (I’m actually not opposed to incinerating #3 to #7 plastic along with other burnable waste, and have encouraged it in many of my blogs.)

“Retailers and consumer goods companies across the country are frequently putting labels on their products that mislead the public and harm America’s recycling systems,” said Greenpeace USA Oceans Campaign Director John Hocevar. “Instead of getting serious about moving away from single-use plastic, corporations are hiding behind the pretense that their throwaway packaging is recyclable. We know that this is untrue. The jig is up.”

Tony Radoszewski, President and CEO of PLASTICS, released a statement taking issue with Greenpeace USA’s report, saying that it is “part of a targeted campaign against the nearly one million Americans employed by the plastics industry. Instead of seeking actual solutions, Greenpeace chooses to release sensationalist ‘studies’ that do nothing to address the real issue.”

I have to say that this recent study and report was one of the more sensible I’ve read from Greenpeace. I was impressed by the thoroughness of the research.

“There is a lack of sufficient recycling infrastructure for all materials in the U.S. and this must be addressed,” said Radoszewski.

Many materials are being declined at MRFs, such as newspapers because they are drowning in them. Aluminum seems to be the material that has one of the highest recycling rates. I’ve read reports that many recycling facilities for PET and HDPE have quite low utilization rates and could certainly use more of those two types of plastic.

Radoszewski goes on to talk about life-cycle analyses that show “plastics are more environmentally beneficial than alternative materials,” and even more so when they are successfully recycled into new materials. But, before that happens there have to be better ways to capture more of the plastics and get it to where the value can be realized, whether that is through mechanical recycling of the most in-demand polymers (PET and HDPE) or chemical recycling of those materials that fall outside the boundaries of mechanical recycling.

“We take issue with the report for many reasons, and there is already an ongoing industry-wide dialogue about how the recycling system is performing today and how it could perform with an updated infrastructure,” Radoszewski said.

The Greenpeace report states that most types of plastic packaging are economically impractical to recycle and are likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. For that reason, developing technology is critical to this issue, especially when it comes to sorting. There are a number of companies that have developed automated systems that can sort various plastics via electronic sensors, a boon to MRFs everywhere. A lot of headway also is being made by companies with “compatibilizers,” additive compounds that make various types of plastics “like” each other so that they can be processed. Chemical recycling is also making strides, turning difficult-to-recycle plastics into valuable polymers.

Until all of these technologies become widely used, we’ll continue to see more “greenwashing” via labels that mislead consumers into thinking the plastic items they have in their hands will somehow just disappear.

While Greenpeace ends its report by urging “U.S. retailers and consumer goods companies to eliminate single-use consumer plastic, and to invest in reusable, refillable, and package-free approaches,” we, as consumers and industry people, can think of a million reasons why this approach is impractical and filled with unintended consequences.

Ultimately, until we can educate consumers about the value of plastics and teach them to care enough about the environment that they will put all their waste—not just plastic—into the proper bins for recycling, land filling or incinerating, we will always have a litter/waste problem. It’s not just a plastic problem—it’s a people problem, as well. Let’s face it, there’s plenty of blame to go around.




Honey Processing and Packaging Center has enabled the Country to export prime quality Honey

Honey Processing and Packaging Center has enabled the Country to export prime quality Honey

The Honey Processing and Packaging Center set up by the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) in Swat has enabled the country to export prime quality Honey at competitive prices in the open global markets, besides successfully meeting the domestic demand. It was observed at a projects review meeting of SMEDA held today in chair with Mr. Fuad Hashim Rabbani, Acting Chief Executive Officer of SMEDA. Addressing the meeting, he said that a modern honey processing plant with quality control functions and capabilities to produce refined, high quality honey was an imperative requirement of the country, which has been accomplished by SMEDA under patronage of the Ministry of Industries and Production with the cost of about Rs.38.17 million. The Center has positioned Malakand division as a key honey processing area in Pakistan by assisting the local honey farmers in realization of higher value margins for the final products, he said adding that value addition technology introduced in the center had enabled the area to increase its share in the lucrative markets at national and international market.

The Acting CEO SMEDA was glad to know that the Honey Processing and Packaging Center, operating as a Common Facility Center had provided the sophisticated equipment to process aiary as well as forest honey production of high quality refined Honey for bulk consumption. The technology installed at the center has a capacity to process approximately 2000 kg of honey in an 8 hour shift along with packaging capacity of 1500-2000 bottles of one KG.

It is notable that the Honey industry of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is spread over to different districts of the province. There are many types of honey produced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but Seder (Ber in Urdu) and Acacia Modesta (Plai in Urdu) are produced more in quantity. There are about 3800 Bee-keeping entrepreneurs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, who have provided direct employments to over 17500 workers.

It is further to mention that Malakand Division has got unmatched potential in Marble, Granite, Gems, Hydel Power Generation, Horticulture, Apiculture (Honey Bee Farming) and Tourism sectors. These opportunities are translated into establishment of several industries and thousands of informal setups, therefore SMEDA has increased its interventions in the area to explore the potential for growth of SMEs.


Nestlé creates market for food-grade recycled plastics, launches fund to boost packaging innovation

Nestlé creates market for food-grade recycled plastics, launches fund to boost packaging innovation

Nestlé today announced that it will invest up to CHF 2 billion to lead the shift from virgin plastics to food-grade recycled plastics and to accelerate the development of innovative sustainable packaging solutions.

Building on its 2018 commitment to make 100% of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025, Nestlé will reduce its use of virgin plastics by one third in the same period whilst working with others to advance the circular economy and endeavor to clean up plastic waste from oceans, lakes and rivers.

Food quality and safety are paramount, and packaging plays a major role in assuring this. Most plastics are difficult to recycle for food packaging, leading to a limited supply of food-grade recycled plastics. To create a market, Nestlé is therefore committed to sourcing up to 2 million metric tons of food-grade recycled plastics and allocating more than CHF 1.5 billion to pay a premium for these materials between now and 2025. Nestlé will seek operational efficiencies to keep this initiative earnings neutral.

Packaging innovation, including new materials, refill systems and recycling solutions, is another key challenge on the path towards a waste-free future. In addition to its significant inhouse research through the Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences, the company will launch a CHF 250 million sustainable packaging venture fund to invest in start-up companies that focus on these areas.

These two initiatives come in addition to Nestlé’s major ongoing efforts in research, sourcing and manufacturing to make its packaging recyclable or reusable and contribute to its goal to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. As part of the company’s packaging commitment and to increase transparency, Nestlé will continue to outline further initiatives and provide regular progress updates.

“No plastic should end up in landfill or as litter,” said Mark Schneider, CEO of Nestlé. “Making recycled plastics safe for food is an enormous challenge for our industry. That is why in addition to minimizing plastics use and collecting waste, we want to close the loop and make more plastics infinitely recyclable. We are taking bold steps to create a wider market for food-grade recycled plastics and boost innovation in the packaging industry. We welcome others to join us on this journey.”

“We are pleased to see Nestlé commit a CHF 2 billion investment toward creating a circular economy for plastics, alongside a reduction of its use of virgin plastic in packaging by one third by 2025. By eliminating the plastics we don’t need, innovating in areas like reuse models and new materials, and circulating the plastics we do need — also in more challenging food grade applications — we can create an economy where plastic neverbecomes waste. Achieving the commitments announced today will significantly contribute towards realizing this vision,” said Andrew Morlet, CEO, Ellen MacArthur Foundation.