Designing for sustainability

Small changes can make a big difference

Together, we can design and produce packaging that reduces the resources
needed to make, ship, and retail the pack and improve recyclability.

Use our interactive design guide to highlight some of our key recommendations

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Display recycling information

  • As an aid to recycling, the BPF recommend that packaging should be marked with the appropriate identification code.
  • This also indicates to the consumer that the packaging has been produced by a socially responsible manufacturer who wants to make sure that it is easily recycled
  • The Food and Drink Federation advise that consideration should be given to providing guidance by including messages or symbols or other meaningful information on how to use the packaging in the best way, how to sort it for recycling and how to dispose of it in the most environmentally responsible way
  • It is often reported that consumers find recycling logos packaging somewhat confusingo when it comes to kerbside collections. Therefore we recommend to add simple text along with the logo to encourage the consumer to fulfil their responsibility in the life cycle of the product. For example, adding text such as "MADE FROM RECYCLED MATERIALS - PLEASE RECYCLE" is a simple and effective message to engage the consumer.
  • At Macpac we are part of a new initiative to go one step further. Visit howtorecycle.me for more information.
Sources: Plastics Recycling Markings (bpf.co.uk)
Packaging for People, Planet and Profit a Sustainability Checklist (https://www.fdf.org.uk/publicgeneral/Packaging-checklist.pdf)

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rPET (Recycled PolyEthylene Terephthalate)

  • rPET is one of the most recyclable materials and 97% of the products we make are made using rPET (the remaining 3% being specifically for medical or industrial purposes)
  • Our standard rPET is made using more than 80% recycled material which is made up of a mixture of at least 50% Post Consumer Recyclate (PCR) and Post Industrial Recyclate (PIR) (which includes our own offcuts)
  • rPET is biologically and chemically inert.
  • Our material has been tested in accordance with the requirements of the Plastic Materials and Articles in Contact with Food Commission Regulation (EU) No. 10/2011 following methods BSEN 1186:2002
  • This material is 100% recyclable, following recycling directives EN 13430:2004 and EN 13431:2004.
  • Using PCR reduces the greenhouse gas emissions associated with our packaging, retains material in circulation and reduces the need to extract new resources to make virgin material.

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×

Reduce weight by downgauging

  • We always advise to use the thinnest gauge material possible whilst still retaining functionality
  • When developing bespoke products we supply prototypes where different gauges of material can be trialed and tested to make sure they are fit for purpose
  • Downgauging not only reduces the energy required to produce the product but also reduces the weight which in turn helps to reduce emissions during transportation
  • An added benefit being that this also makes for the most economic choice
  • All Macpac stock products have already been refined to use the thinnest gauge necessary for their application

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×

Sleeve, printed insert or label

  • When choosing a sleeve, printed insert or label it is important to consider; material, size, adhesive, and ability to be removed.
  • Preferably paperboard sleeves or printed inserts are used, as these can easily be separated from the tray and each component can be recycled.
  • If a label is required adhesives should be used sparingly and be water soluble in 60–80°C
    • Labels should cover no more than 60% of the product’s surface area, as well as being easy to remove.
    • Polypropylene and polyethylene are the preferred label materials.
    • Foil, lacquered and coated labels become contaminants and are undesirable.
  • Engraving is preferable to direct printing.

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×

Detectable colours for recycling

  • To be successfully captured within the recycling infrastructure it is important that material can be detected by robots at the recycling facilities.
  • Heavily coloured materials are undetected by the sorting machinery during mechanical recycling especially items containing carbon black pigment.
  • Until recently black rPET was commonly used for many applications such as meat packaging. However, carbon black material is difficult to sort and holds little economic value at recycling plants and has therefore become very unpopular.
  • The amount of colour to be used should be minimised as much as possible (within the constraints set by technical considerations, branding and consumer acceptance) clear material becoming the most popular choice.
  • Where colour is required, for example, in industrial applications, we recommend using our Jazz material. Jazz can vary in colour quite extensively due to the original application before the material was recycled. However importantly Jazz is detectable at recycling facilities.
  • Along with Jazz Macpac can offer a further alternative Eco-form, this material provides a lower cost alternative to conventional clear rPET, it is available in a translucent milky white colour, it also benefits from excellent processing characteristics.

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×

Clamshell instead of lidding film

Our preferred choice of closure mechanism when designing packaging is a clamshell because:

  • They are easily recyclable
  • Ideal for providing a high level of security by being tamper proof.
  • Easy to open and resealable.

If opting for a lidding film it needs to be easily removable and leave no residue so to avoid contamination when recycled (ideally the lidding would be recyclable itself)

pointer
×

Optimise pack size

  • Better product design makes recycling easier whilst keeping the contents eye catching, that’s why we design with the entire life-cycle in mind, so to require the minimum resources during manufacture, use, and for recyclability at end of life
  • Choosing the correct overall pack size for each particular product whether it is a stock item or bespoke item is important so as not to be using excess material
  • Having the optimal cavity size helps to ensure correct de-nesting, it also provides the ability to pack as many as possible in a box which reduces the packaging’s carbon footprint.
  • Once filled, having the correct packaging keeps the product as secure as possible which prevents damage during transportation to consumer
  • For our Surecell® range we always recommend the product should be no less than 2/3 of the overall pack size and our patented Closure mechanism will ensure maximum security for your product at the point of sale.

Display recycling information

  • As an aid to recycling, the BPF recommend that packaging should be marked with the appropriate identification code.
  • This also indicates to the consumer that the packaging has been produced by a socially responsible manufacturer who wants to make sure that it is easily recycled
  • The Food and Drink Federation advise that consideration should be given to providing guidance by including messages or symbols or other meaningful information on how to use the packaging in the best way, how to sort it for recycling and how to dispose of it in the most environmentally responsible way
  • It is often reported that consumers find recycling logos on packaging somewhat confusing when it comes to kerbside collections. Therefore we recommend to add simple text along with the logo to encourage the consumer to fulfil their responsibility in the life cycle of the product. For example, adding text such as “MADE FROM RECYCLED MATERIALS – PLEASE RECYCLE” is a simple and effective message to engage the consumer.
  • At Macpac we are part of a new initiative to go one step further. Visit howtorecycle.me for more information
Sources: Plastics Recycling Markings (bpf.co.uk)
Packaging for People, Planet and Profit a Sustainability Checklist (https://www.fdf.org.uk/publicgeneral/Packaging-checklist.pdf)

rPET (Recycled PolyEthylene Terephthalate)

  • rPET is one of the most recyclable materials and 97% of the products we make are made using rPET (the remaining 3% being specifically for medical or industrial purposes)
  • Our standard rPET is made using more than 80% recycled material which is made up of a mixture of at least 50% Post Consumer Recyclate (PCR) and Post Industrial Recyclate (PIR) (which includes our own offcuts)
  • rPET is biologically and chemically inert.
  • Our material has been tested in accordance with the requirements of the Plastic Materials and Articles in Contact with Food Commission Regulation (EU) No. 10/2011 following methods BSEN 1186:2002
  • This material is 100% recyclable, following recycling directives EN 13430:2004 and EN 13431:2004.
  • Using PCR reduces the greenhouse gas emissions associated with our packaging, retains material in circulation and reduces the need to extract new resources to make virgin material.

Reduce weight by downgauging

  • We always advise to use the thinnest gauge material possible whilst still retaining functionality
  • When developing bespoke products we supply prototypes where different gauges of material can be trialed and tested to make sure they are fit for purpose
  • Downgauging not only reduces the energy required to produce the product but also reduces the weight which in turn helps to reduce emissions during transportation
  • An added benefit being that this also makes for the most economic choice
  • All Macpac stock products have already been refined to use the thinnest gauge necessary for their application

Sleeve, printed insert or label

  • When choosing a sleeve, printed insert or label it is important to consider; material, size, adhesive, and ability to be removed.
  • Preferably paperboard sleeves or printed inserts are used, as these can easily be separated from the tray and each component can be recycled.
  • If a label is required adhesives should be used sparingly and be water soluble in 60–80°C
    • Labels should cover no more than 60% of the product’s surface area, as well as being easy to remove.
    • Polypropylene and polyethylene are the preferred label materials.
    • Foil, lacquered and coated labels become contaminants and are undesirable.
  • Engraving is preferable to direct printing.

Detectable colours for recycling

  • To be successfully captured within the recycling infrastructure it is important that material can be detected by robots at the recycling facilities.
  • Heavily coloured materials are undetected by the sorting machinery during mechanical recycling especially items containing carbon black pigment.
  • Until recently black rPET was commonly used for many applications such as meat packaging. However, carbon black material is difficult to sort and holds little economic value at recycling plants and has therefore become very unpopular.
  • The amount of colour to be used should be minimised as much as possible (within the constraints set by technical considerations, branding and consumer acceptance) clear material becoming the most popular choice.
  • Where colour is required, for example, in industrial applications, we recommend using our Jazz material. Jazz can vary in colour quite extensively due to the original application before the material was recycled. However importantly Jazz is detectable at recycling facilities.
  • Along with Jazz Macpac can offer a further alternative Eco-form, this material provides a lower cost alternative to conventional clear rPET, it is available in a translucent milky white colour, it also benefits from excellent processing characteristics.

Clamshell instead of lidding film

Our preferred choice of closure mechanism when designing packaging is a clamshell because:

  • They are easily recyclable
  • Ideal for providing a high level of security by being tamper proof.
  • Easy to open and resealable.

If opting for a lidding film it needs to be easily removable and leave no residue so to avoid contamination when recycled (ideally the lidding would be recyclable itself)

Optimise pack size

  • Better product design makes recycling easier whilst keeping the contents eye catching, that’s why we design with the entire life-cycle in mind, so to require the minimum resources during manufacture, use, and for recyclability at end of life
  • Choosing the correct overall pack size for each particular product whether it is a stock item or bespoke item is important so as not to be using excess material
  • Having the optimal cavity size helps to ensure correct de-nesting, it also provides the ability to pack as many as possible in a box which reduces the packaging’s carbon footprint.
  • Once filled, having the correct packaging keeps the product as secure as possible which prevents damage during transportation to consumer
  • For our Surecell® range we always recommend the product should be no less than 2/3 of the overall pack size and our patented Closure mechanism will ensure maximum security for your product at the point of sale.

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