'Pringles factor' posing packaging problems

By Max Goldbart, Thursday 18 May 2017

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The UK’s Recycling Association has named a number of packaging products as being the “villains” of the recycling world.

pringles

Pringles' owner Kellogg's uses a variety of materials in its Pringles' packaging. Image: Flickr

Pringles, which is owned by Kellogg's, was singled out in particular, in a speech made by Recycling Association chief executive Simon Ellin at last month's Quality First Recycling Conference.

Ellin said the biggest problems were posed when multiple materials were used in the same packaging, pointing to the “Pringle-isation” of packaging as a major issue.

“What idiot designed this in terms of recyclability?” he was quoted as asking at the conference, by the Press Association.

“We’ve got a cardboard tube, a metal bottom, a plastic lid. The Pringles factor – right at the design stage, we’ve got to get that right. What we’re putting in our recycling bins has got to be recyclable. We’ve got to get away from the Pringles factor.”

Away from Pringles, Ellin also pointed to Lucozade as the “number two villain” due to its bottle being so confusing to computer scanners that it has be to picked by hand off the recycling conveyor, along with cleaning spray bottles, which often can only have their bodies recycled, black plastic food trays used by supermarkets and whisky packaging.

BPIF Cartons general manager Jon Clark said: “The issue is that all packaging is designed to get the product to the consumer safely and make it last as long as it possibly can.

“There has to be a balance in the supply chain in terms of saving food waste as opposed to making life a bit more difficulty for the recycling industry to recycle the product.”

According to the BBC, a spokesman for Pringles said: “All parts of a Pringles can act as a barrier to keep [the crisps] fresh. That means a longer shelf life, which minimises food waste.”

A spokesman for Lucozade Ribena Suntory said: “All of our bottles are recyclable and we take our responsibility to the environment very seriously.

"Last year we reduced the weight of the Lucozade Sport bottle by 3g, which equates to an annual saving of 540 tonnes of plastic. As with the rest of our drinks produced at our Coleford factory, the Lucozade Sport bottles are blown on-site to limit our carbon footprint.

Glossop Cartons director Jackie Sidebottom said: “I do like a Pringle or two but having said that with my consumer hat on the amount of waste my family has is outrageous.

“We need clever packaging technologists to develop easy-to-recycle packaging. We all know that board products offer the most environmentally friendly way to package a range of goods. Board comes from sustainable pulp that is farmed as a crop in a controlled responsible method. The packaging looks good and is easy and cheap to recycle.”

In order to encourage the development of recyclable packaging, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation along with Prince Charles’s International Sustainability Unit (ISU) will launch a multimillion-pound competition today (18 May) to challenge groups to find ways of designing recyclable packaging.

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