Axion launches new packaging recyclability training service

Axion has launched a new service aimed at improving knowledge within the plastic packaging value chain and helping the hard-pressed industry to understand what design choices it can make for their packaging to be recyclable.

We are offering an in-house bespoke training course to educate staff from across the sector on waste management operations in the UK and Europe.

Richard McKinlay, Head of Circular Economy, says that with the industry facing heavy pressure to ensure packaging is ‘recyclable’, many firms are looking to make all of their packaging recyclable or compostable within a set time limit. Yet there exists a ‘huge knowledge gap’ of what ‘recyclable’ actually means.

“This is a new area for many companies, they are not waste management or recycling organisations,” he points out. “They may not understand why they certain design choices are important. Crucially, they may not know what decisions to take for packaging to be recyclable.”

So much of the chain which dictates recyclability is outside the direct control of brands, retailers and converters, says Richard, but they are expected to act on positively improving the sustainability of their packaging products.

The course covers what infrastructure is in place, how sorting and recycling processes work and how packaging design impacts this, plus the realities of exporting waste and barriers to recycling.

In 2017, the UK exported 66% of plastic packaging waste collected for recycling – nearly 700,000 tonnes. Much of this is exported to Asia, where poorer and less-developed facilities mean there is a much higher risk of pollution and leakage into the environment.

Richard continues: “If you don’t understand the basics of why certain design choices need to be made, then ensuring your packaging can be recycled is impossible.”

Banning straws and other single-use plastic in the UK will have no effect on ocean plastics, he claims, adding: “To address that, we must tackle the issue of exporting huge quantities of material. The only way to do this is a complete supply chain approach and understanding where we stand today, where we need to be and, most importantly, how to get there.”