War on Shrink:
Are Retailers & Supermarkets Missing a Bigger Opportunity?
Last week, Tesco announced that they are banishing all shrink wrap multi-packs as of the 2nd March 2020 in a bid to reduce the risk of 350 tonnes of plastic a year being irresponsibly disposed of. Heinz, Princes, Green Giant and John West will also be supporting this movement by ensuring their product too is free from unnecessary packaging and sold as multi-buys instead, a move that we at TrakRap wholeheartedly approve of.
On one hand, this is most definitely a step in the right direction, but on the other, we wonder are they and other retailers alike missing an even bigger opportunity to reduce packaging, eliminate the risk of plastic pollution and, above all reduce their carbon footprint….which we know is the main driver of climate change?
Dave Lewis of Tesco is absolutely right to say “we are removing all unnecessary and non-recyclable plastic from Tesco”, but he is failing to embrace new British eco-innovations that can reduce plastic on secondary packaging by 70%, is hugely recyclable and backed up by a closed-loop system so it can never get out into the environment. This is a much bigger opportunity than Coco-Cola alone or indeed all multi-packs put together – Martin Leeming, CEO of TrakRap Ltd.
Unlike shrink-wrapped multi-packs, Secondary Packaging – the type that gets the product from the manufacturer to the shelf, but is removed before the consumer, is necessary. Not only does it protect the product in transit, but it provides a vital role in keeping costs down by making handling efficient from the manufacturer to the supermarket shelf. Not surprisingly, the volume of secondary packaging dwarfs that of multi-buys and runs into the billions of cases a year. The typical formats of secondary packaging will be readily recognisable to all of us, cardboard boxes and shrink-wrap. Both of these have their own environmental issues.
- Cardboard boxes have a high carbon footprint but decompose readily.
- Shrink-wrap plastic has a much lower carbon footprint but doesn’t decompose and can harm wildlife if it’s not disposed of responsibly.
So, we have a dilemma! Secondary packaging is necessary, so we can’t simply ban it like Tesco have with multi-buy packaging, and we can’t simply replace one with the other because we’re just shifting the problem around, we need a more sustainable solution to this secondary packaging conundrum.
How do we make Secondary Packaging more sustainable then?
This is where eco-innovation comes in. The UK has always been proud of its ability to invent stuff but hasn’t always been great at getting it to market. Not surprisingly innovative UK companies are “Eco-Innovating”, but unless the big supermarkets start embracing new ways of doing things another opportunity will be lost, but this time the stakes are too high to fail.
TrakRap has developed, through eco-innovation and the very latest digital technology a new platform that has completely revolutionised secondary packaging by:
- Replacing shrink film with ultra-thin stretch film instantly removing up to 70% of plastic.
- Developing new cardboard box designs to reduce cardboard by up to 40%.
- Reducing the energy requirements of traditional shrink wrap systems by 90%
- Removing heat from the packing process, opening up a whole new world of opportunity for Fresh and Frozen Foods.
- Using less of everything…. so it costs less per pack without any need for Capex.
Of course, using less of everything is a huge step forward, but to be truly sustainable, all the remaining material has to be accounted for. Secondary packaging is uniquely placed to achieve this because it is removed in the Supermarket before it gets to the customer, so can be controlled in a “closed loop”. Cardboard is well established here, but how do we know which is good plastic that can be recycled many times, and which isn’t?
TrakRap’s unique GreenRap provides the first closed-loop recycling system and is a testament to their commitment to sustainability and lowering Greenhouse Gases. GreenRap is easy to identify at the point where in-store employees remove it, why? because it’s green! Store merchandisers can then place it in a GreenSac, a returnable, reusable Sack that once full is returned to TrakRap. Where we’ll take care of the rest. Simply place the GreenRap in the GreenSac and return to TrakRap!
Let’s not make the same mistake!
Let’s not make the same mistake with secondary packaging that has been made with the humble carrier bag. The plastic carrier bag was responsible for one-thousandth of the carbon footprint of the typical food shop carried home in it and was never invented to be a throw away item.
So, what did we do? We replaced the plastic carrier with a paper one that has at least a 5x bigger carbon footprint. We simply shifted the problem from one of plastic getting out into the environment, to one of climate change. What we should have done was put in place a plastic bag recovery and recycling system and encouraged the growth of a culture of reusing and recycling.
Climate change is driven by the Carbon Footprints of everything we consume. For this reason, we need to change the narrative and address how we use eco-innovation to reduce secondary packaging, whether it’s plastic or cardboard. Whilst reducing material and energy usage, all secondary packaging must also be recycled in a “closed-loop” so that it can be reused over and over again, saving finite resources and much more besides.
Get in touch with TrakRap today for a free, no obligation consultation.