UK Plastic Packaging Tax: An Overview

Blog Post Feature Image - UK Plastic Packaging Tax

From April 2022, a new tax on plastic packaging will be in place in the UK. Alongside the UK government, the HMRC has published guidance with the aim of helping businesses prepare for the Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT). This post highlights the main takeaways from this guidance providing information on the products that are affected, how much the tax will cost, who is liable to pay the tax and how.


What is the plastic packaging tax?

PPT will be a tax on the plastic packaging manufactured in or imported into the UK, where the plastic used in its manufacture contains less than 30% recycled plastic. Where 30% or more recycled plastic is used, no tax will be due, but the plastic packaging will still need to be accounted for. The tax will be due on finished packaging components. Where plastic packaging components are imported, this will include products that are both empty or pre-filled.


Who is Liable to pay the plastic packaging tax?

PPT will be charged from 1 April 2022 and it is likely that everybody will see its effects. If you are a business that manufactures or imports 10 or more tonnes of plastic packaging over a 12-month period you may be liable to pay the PPT. The tax will be charged for a finished product that has “undergone its last substantial modification” such as extrusion, moulding, forming or printing. If a business is in the UK, it will be liable for PPT if it performs the “last substantial modification before the packing or filling process”. The business that packs or fills the packages will be liable for PPT only if it also “undertakes a substantial modification before the packing of filling process”. Importers will also be liable for PPT if the packaging they import has undergone its last substantial modification.


How much is the tax?

Packaging manufactured in or imported into the UK that does not contain 30% recycled plastic will incur the tax at the rate of £200 per metric tonne.


What packaging is included in the tax?

PPT will be a tax on plastic packaging that contains less than 30% chemically or mechanically recycled plastic. This will also apply to bioplastics, biodegradable, compostable and oxo-degradable plastics. In cases where packaging is made using multiple materials (paper/foil and plastic) if the packaging contains a larger proportion of plastic, the weight of the entire packaging will be considered plastic and will be taxable as such.

PPT will be levied on products “designed to be suitable for use, whether alone or in combination with other products, in the containment, protection, handling, delivery or presentation of goods at any stage in the supply chain of the goods, from the producer of the goods to the consumer or user”. Plastic food trays, film used to protect produce, reusable plastic crates, plastic carrier bags and disposable cups all constitute packaging components liable for the tax. But even plastic packaging that does not fit the definition provided but is designed as single-use consumer packaging will be taxable.


What packaging is exempt from the tax?

There are three main categories of packaging components that are exempt from PPT.

  • products where the packaging is not the primary aim of the product but is instead there to store the good. This exemption includes items such as toolboxes, earphone cases and first aid boxes.
  • products such as inhalers and room deodorisers, where the packaging is an essential aspect of the product that will be used by the consumer.
  • products such as shop fittings and sales display shelves, which are created specifically for presenting products to consumers and will be re-used to this end.

Plastic packaging that is used to transport imported goods, used in aircraft, ship and rail goods stores, used to package medicinal products or that has another permanent use other than packaging will also be exempt from the tax. If the packaging is intended for export and is exported within 12 months, it is also exempt from the tax.


How will the PPT impact businesses?

All manufacturers and importers of plastic packaging will need to register with HMRC regardless of the amount of recycled plastic they use unless they produce or import less than 10 metric tonnes of plastic packaging in any 12-month period. A business must register if at any time after 1 April 2022, it expects to manufacture or import at least ten metric tonnes of plastic packaging in the following 30 days or it has manufactured or imported at least ten metric tonnes of plastic packaging in a 12-month period ending on the last day of a calendar month. Imports that have not cleared customs or are not in free circulation in the UK are not included within these calculations.

Businesses will be subject to increased record-keeping as they will need to maintain records to show:

  • The total amount in weight and a breakdown by weight of the materials used to manufacture the plastic packaging (excluding packaging which is used to transport imported goods)
  • The data and calculations used to determine if a packaging component is, for the most part, plastic and how much-recycled plastic it contains
  • The weight of exempted plastic packaging and the reason for the exemption
  • The amount in weight of plastic packaging exported, and therefore the allowed relief from the tax.

Even where the recycled content test is met, businesses will need to register, file, and retain evidence to show that the relevant plastic packaging meets the threshold. Plastic packaging will be assumed not to meet the recycled content test unless it is shown to do so.


Click here to see the latest guidance from the HMRC on the Plastic Packaging Tax


At Foxpak, we are working tirelessly with our material suppliers and manufacturing partners to find a solution to the plastic packaging tax. As a primary packaging supplier to the food and beverage industry, food safety is one of our main concerns. However, it is still unclear how the PPT will align with current EU/UK legislation which specifies that post-consumer recycled (PCR) packaging cannot be in direct contact with food products. Paired with the limited availability and high cost of PCR materials, We will continue to research a commercially sustainable and safe solution to the Plastic Packaging Tax.


If your brand is looking to invest in quality packaging, our team will guide you through the entire process, providing recommendations on increased sustainability, helping to improve efficiencies and adding expert and award-winning value to your end product.


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How To Design Flexible Packaging For A Circular Economy

Designing flexible packaging for a circular economy blog post feature image

We can all agree that waste prevention and the ability to reuse packaging are driving factors of creating a circular economy. However, there is an immediate urgency in the flexible packaging industry to stop waste products polluting the environment. The most effective way to do this right now is to increase the rate and efficiency at which we recycle waste packaging.


Flexible packaging represents half of the primary food packaging in Europe. It is a resource-efficient packaging choice that plays a key role in protecting the products it holds, preventing food waste and providing important packaging functionality. The wide-ranging benefits of flexible packaging, such as its low weight and minimal use of materials, lead to it being an increasingly popular packaging choice. However, the properties that make flexible packaging so desirable also contribute to its reputation of being notoriously difficult to collect, sort and recycle in an economically viable way.


The concept of a circular economy is recognised as a solution to the issues resulting from a “take-make-dispose” approach to consumption. For flexible packaging, the transition to circular starts with design. As well as meeting core design requirements such as product protection, brand messaging and regulatory requirements, companies must choose packaging that also meets the end of life design requirements. This means packaging that is easily collected and sorted, suitable for efficient and high-quality recycling and can be reused in new market applications.


CEFLEX, The Circular Economy for Flexible Packaging initiative, launched a comprehensive set of guidelines to help the flexible packaging value chain design recyclable consumer packaging solutions and accelerate a circular economy. The Designing for a Circular Economy (D4ACE) guidelines focus initially on polyolefin-based structures such as PE, PP and PE/PP mixes as these represent over 80% of consumer flexible packaging in the European market and the ability to sort and mechanically recycle these materials is already proven at industrial scale.


Below is a brief overview of what CEFLEX believe is the optimal guidelines for designing packaging solutions that will work with and contribute to the circular economy model.


Designing For A Circular Economy Infographic

Source: CEFLEX Report “Designing For a Circular Economy 2020”


Foxpak offers a wide range of recyclable packaging in line with CEFLEX’s guidance. Our recyclable range includes PE/PE and PP/PP laminates and mono-material structures available in matt and gloss finishes and with high barrier protection. We continue to encourage the use of recyclable plastics, helping our clients create a more sustainable supply chain in line with our vision of a circular economy.

If your brand is looking to invest in quality packaging, our team will guide you through the entire process, providing recommendations on increased sustainability, helping to improve efficiencies and adding expert and award-winning value to your end product.


OPRL labelling rules extended to include PP flexible packaging

With recent announcements of major industry initiatives seeking to increase the rate of recycling of plastic packaging, OPRL has amended its recycling labelling rules to include PP films. This move will bring polypropylene (PP) flexible packaging in line with PE films from 1st Jan 2022, broadening the range of flexible packaging that consumers can recycle.


On-Pack Recycling Label (OPRL) Logo

Based on retailer and brand plans to deliver on commitments under The UK Plastics Pact, OPRL is confident that collections will be available to more than 75% of the UK population for PP film by January 2022. With 9 out of 10 consumers relying on OPRL to inform them on whether they can recycle items, this development should significantly increase the rate at which soft plastics are being recycled at the front of store. PP material recycled in-store will be collected and processed into new packaging and products.


OPRL are continuing to establish the availability of processing capacity and functioning markets for metallised foil crisp, snack and chocolate wrappers. Although they are covered by some in-store recycling collection networks, OPRL hope these too could be labelled as ‘recyclable’ in the near future.

OPRLs new recycling rules will see PP films with less than 5% PE or EVOH labelled with a Special Films label from next January, as PE films.

OPRL recycling labelsJane Bevis, Chair of OPRL Ltd, said “We know there’s a huge appetite among consumers to recycle more of this lightweight packaging, with tremendous responses to in-store trials by retailers. So it’s exciting that the long-established major supermarkets’ network of front-of-store collections for PE films is being extended and strengthened and will now encompass a broader range of bags and wrapping. That means from January consumers will be able to take many more types of packaging for recycling at their local supermarket.”


Margaret Bates, Executive Director of OPRL Ltd, went on to explain. “Mono-polymer polypropylene without heavy coatings or metallisation is an important first step in extending our advice to consumers. It will bring pasta, biscuit and other everyday packaging in line with bread, veg and fruit, and loo roll bags. We’re very conscious that our labels are trusted by consumers because they constitute a ‘promise’. 95% of people are confident they understand our ‘Recycle’ label. Therefore if they put packaging bearing it in the right bin, then it will be recycled. We respect and value that trust, built up over 12 years of labelling packaging. So we’re committed to verifying the necessary infrastructure is in place to deliver on that promise. And to make sure markets exist to make this an economically viable and sustainable process.”


PP Recyclable Pouch

Source: OPRL’s news release “OPRL Labelling Rules Change to Support Flexibles Recycling”


Foxpak offers a wide range of recyclable packaging in line with OPRL guidance. Our recyclable range includes PE/PE and PP/PP mono-material structures available in matt and gloss finishes and with high barrier protection. We continue to encourage the use of recyclable plastics, helping our clients create a more sustainable supply chain in line with our vision of a circular economy.

If your brand is looking to invest in quality packaging, our team will guide you through the entire process, providing recommendations on increased sustainability, helping to improve efficiencies and adding expert and award-winning value to your end product.



Foxpak Celebrate 20 Years Of Delivering Innovative Packaging Solutions

Blog Post Feature Image Celebrating 20 years of delivering innovative flexible packaging solutions

This year Foxpak celebrate 20 years in business. Established in 2001 as a trading company, we quickly developed a name for ourselves in the flexible packaging industry. 20 years on and our highly skilled and knowledgeable team are practised in the art of recommending and manufacturing bespoke flexible packaging solutions. We provide award-winning packaging to countless household brands in over 30 different countries around the world. There have been many notable milestones and achievements over the last 20 years. With innovation at the heart of our company culture, we pioneered the development of digital flexibles in 2008 by becoming the first company in the world to print flexible packaging using HP digital printing presses. Since then we have been on a journey to creating a greener future through the development of sustainable packaging and business practices.


Foxpaks Innovation Timeline

Blog post Infographic outlining milestones achieved throughout foxpaks 20 years in business



Are you looking for a flexible packaging partner? Our team are experienced in recommending and producing award-winning flexible packaging solutions. Contact us today to discuss your packaging requirements.

Protein Packaging: Making The Switch From Tubs To Pouches

Blog Post Feature Image Protein Packaging Making The Switch From Tubs To Pouches

Sports nutrition is an umbrella term that covers many different products from protein powders to energy bars and health supplements. Traditionally, protein powder and supplements were packed in plastic tubs. Recently, the number of sports nutrition brands switching to flexible packaging solutions has soared. Today, sports nutrition products come in a variety of packaging solutions. Some popular formats are stand up pouches, three side seal bags and flat bottom bags, as well as plastic or paper laminated films. Compared to tubs, pouches are seen as a more modern packaging solution. In addition to being practical and cost-effective, they save space and allow for increased branding. It’s safe to assume these benefits are why flexible packaging solutions are now a preferred choice by most sports nutrition brands. 

This blog summarises some of the questions you may have before making the move from rigid tubs to striking, innovative and sustainable flexible packaging bags and pouches.


How sustainable are pouches versus tubs?


sports nutrition protein pouch


In general terms, flexible packaging is seen as a more sustainable alternative to rigid plastic tubs. Pouches are lighter and use less plastic to hold the same amount of product compared to traditional tubs. Their flexible and lightweight nature makes them easier to store and transport, resulting in a significant reduction in CO2 emissions during the logistics process. Recent developments have seen the introduction of recyclable materials in flexible packaging. Recyclable bags and pouches are quickly becoming the packaging of choice for sports nutrition brands. Our recyclable options include high barrier LDPE and plastic-free paper.


Will flexible packaging offer my product the same levels of protection?



Flexible packaging is an excellent option for products that require high levels of protection from external factors such as oxygen, moisture and UV light. Sports nutrition bags and pouches are made using laminates. These structures can be modified to achieve specific levels of protection for the product being packed. materials such as metalised polyester and aluminium provide an excellent all-around barrier to preserve sensitive products such as powders, chocolate and capsules, while the use of resealable zippers means that bulk powders and supplements remain fresh throughout their use. Food safety and product integrity are extremely important when it comes to packaging. All of our sports nutrition packaging is manufactured using food-grade laminates in our BRCGS certified facility.


Will flexible packaging help my product stand out on the shelf?


sports nutrition supplement packaging


The sports nutrition market is saturated so packaging should be as eye-catching as possible to stand out from the competition. Flexible packaging holds an advantage over traditional rigid tubs by offering a larger surface area for branding and messaging. From pixel perfect digital print to hi-definition flexographic and gravure print, flexible packaging supports the use of detailed graphics, saturated colours and powerful branding. Aside from excellent print quality, digital print technology also supports hyper customisation and personalisation in flexible packaging designs. This ensures that your sports nutrition packaging always stands out on the supermarket shelf.


Are you a sports nutrition brand looking to make a switch from tubs to flexible packaging? Get in touch and our team will guide you through the complete process. Providing guidance along the way and helping to improve efficiency, reduce costs and add value to your sports nutrition product.



Thanks for Reading,

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Flexible Packaging and the Environment: Part III

Blog Post Feature - life after packaging

Although sustainability is so much more than what happens to your packaging when you throw it away, it is still essential that we have a good understanding of life after packaging. In 2018, 40 per cent of global plastic produced was used for packaging, this equates 161 million tonnes. Less than one-fifth of this figure is recycled globally – so what happens to the rest?


Landfill is the most notorious of all ending points for plastic waste. Its estimated that 78% of global plastic that has been produced is accumulating in landfill or discarded in the natural environment as litter. Of the 161 million tonnes of plastic packaging produced each year, approximately 10% ends up in our oceans. This is a knock-on effect of landfill waste as, during transportation, plastic packaging is often swept into our waterways by the wind. The final 12% of packaging waste is brought to incineration and used to produce energy.

By increasing the rate by which we recycle plastic packaging, we could offset the problem of landfill waste and ocean litter, however, this alone is not enough to reverse the effects of environmental pollution. By adopting sustainable packaging in conjunction with changing our waste disposal habits, the global packaging waste crisis can be averted at a much faster pace. But what happens to our new and improved sustainable packaging at the end of its life?


Compostable Packaging

Compostable packaging is made with the intention of breaking down into natural elements in a compost environment. Today, not only do we have conventional home composting that is suitable for the disposal of household waste, there are also industrial composting facilities designed to effectively process large volumes of public and commercial waste. There are three types of industrial composting techniques; windrow, in-vessel and aerated static pile composting. All three will produce the same results however, In-vessel composting is the most versatile with the ability to accommodate virtually any type of organic waste — meat, animal manure, bio-solids and food scraps etc. during the industrial composting process, waste material is placed in an enclosed environment where temperature, moisture and airflow levels can be efficiently controlled. The waste material is mechanically turned to create aeration that encourages bacterial activity and material breakdown. The entire process can take between 21 and 84 days to complete. The end product is a high-quality compost that is rich in nutrients. This can be used in gardens, landscaping, horticulture, urban agriculture and organic farming to name just a few.


Recyclable Packaging

Recyclable packaging is packaging made from the same plastic or plastics within the same polymer family. This allows it to be successfully melted down during the recycling process without contamination. Today, the majority of plastic packaging can be recycled and remade into new products. Plastic waste recycling reduces our use of fossil fuels, saves energy, landfill space, and emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Plastic recycling is broken up into a few distinct steps however these may vary depending on the packaging. packaging waste is disposed of in the home and collected by the waste management companies. Once the waste has been transported to the recycling facility it is then sorted by type of plastic, colour and even by the way the plastic was manufactured in the first place. Once sorted the plastic is then washed to erase any traces of contamination from food, labels or adhesive that may be present. The washed plastic is then shredded into small particles, making it easier to process. The shredded plastic is identified and separated into like categories, this is done by testing characteristics such as density, thickness, melting point and colour. Once the plastic is sorted it is compounded into small pellets that can then be reused to make alternative products such as rope, plastic toys, piping, beer mats, plastic pallets and even recycling bins.


Paper Packaging

Paper is one of the most easily recycled packaging materials. Each metric tonne of recycled paper can save approximately 19 trees, 2.68 meters of landfill space and 127 kilos of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year. Much like plastic packaging, recycling paper packaging will result in a product that can be used in the same or similar capacity than the original. Whether you recycle your paper at home or on an industrial scale, the process is essentially the same. Paper packaging can be disposed of in our recycle bin at home and will end up in the dry recycling waste streams. Once collected, waste management companies sort the paper into grades which essentially measure the quality of the fibres. Each grade is then transported to a paper mill recycling facility where it is further sorted based on its surface treatment and structure. After sorting, the paper is then shredded and added to a mixture of water and chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide, sodium hydroxide, and sodium silicate to facilitate the breakdown and separation the paper fibres into a solution referred to as pulp. The pulp is then passed through a number of screens to remove larger contaminants such as staples, tape, plastic film etc that would be included in the recycled paper. Once the larger contaminants are removed the pulp is added to a flotation tank where chemicals and air bubbles remove any inks or dyes present. At this stage, hydrogen peroxide and other whitening agents may be added to further enhance the whiteness of the pulp. Once the desired brightness is achieved, the pulp is passed over heated rollers to press out any excess water and form continuous sheets of flattened paper ready to be reused for applications such as newspaper printing, wrapping paper, printing paper, and blown-in cellulose insulation.


For more information on our Generation Green range and advise on which sustainable packaging option is best for your product, get in contact with us and a member of our team will be happy to talk you through your options in more detail.



Thanks for reading,

Foxpak Logo

Flexible Packaging and the Environment: Part II

Blog Post Feature - the benefits of plastic without the waste

By now, we have recognised that although flexible packaging by its nature is one of the most environmentally friendly packaging options available, consumer demand paired with tightening regulations and a changing social landscape is pushing the hands of brand owners to make the switch to packaging made from sustainable materials. Though transitioning to sustainable packaging should be at the forefront of many companies strategy, it can be a daunting task.

Making the Switch

When making the switch to sustainable packaging, brands need to consider the fact that the perfect solution may not exist. Just like choosing an outfit, one size does not fit all when it comes to choosing the correct sustainable material. while bio-based materials might fit the needs of one product, a widely recyclable single polymer plastic may be better suited to another. Likewise, although green is good, brands can not afford to compromise the quality of their products by choosing packaging that doesn’t match the practicality, protection and attractiveness they already have. Until recently, sustainable materials such as bio-based alternatives and paper laminates could not compete with traditional mixed plastic when it came to protecting and preserving the product being packed. However, the continuous development of new and innovative alternative materials paired with packaging manufacturers ability to successfully convert these materials is bridging the gap between what consumers want, what legislation demands and what brands can offer.


the happy pear compostable pouches

The Happy Pear made the switch from rigid plastic tubs to compostable pouches for their range of  granolas


Compostable Flexible Packaging


compostable-pouchIn the world of sustainable packaging, two words come up more often than others; compostable and biodegradable. But what do they mean? By its definition, compostable packaging will break down to natural elements without leaving behind toxic residue. The main difference between compostable and biodegradable packaging is that compostable products require specific conditions in order to break down i.e. specific temperature and moisture settings along with the presence of microorganisms, whereas biodegradable products will break down naturally. As with many sustainability claims, the devil is in the detail. In this particular instance, the detail is time. We have already mentioned that biodegradation is a natural occurrence, in fact, everything from banana skins to toxic batteries will biodegrade eventually. Because the definition of biodegradable packaging does not have a time limit attached to it, consumers assume that it takes much less time to break down than the 1,000 years that is estimated for plastic, however, this isn’t always the case. Compostable packaging, on the other hand, does have a time frame associated with it. In order to claim compostability under the EN13432 standard, packaging materials must break down within 180 days in industrial composting conditions and no more than 365 days in home composting conditions.

As part of the generation green range, foxpak has developed a compostable laminate made from a mixture of bio-based and synthetic polymer materials which have been individually certified to the EN13432 global standard for home and industrial composting. Our compostable packaging is available with a certified press-to-close zipper and printed with compostable inks that are non-toxic to the environment meaning you can benefit from the look and feel of plastic packaging without the negative environmental impact.


Recyclable Flexible Packaging


recyclable-pouchRecyclable packaging is packaging that can be reprocessed back to its original form and returned into the manufacturing stream. Traditionally, flexible packaging is made from a blend of different plastic materials which are laminated together making them extremely hard to separate. For this reason, flexible packaging is notoriously difficult to recycle. As the saying goes, reduce, reuse and recycle. When translated into the world of packaging, this would look like the following scenario;

  • Reduce: switching from multi to mono layer materials and tweaking impression sizes for more efficient print accross a single web
  • Reuse: reusing waste material from the manufacturing process for waste-to-energy conversion
  • Recycle: correctly disposing of packaging at the end of its life to be recycled back into the packaging industry

As simple as the closed-loop theory sounds, some of these stages are more advanced than others when it comes to packaging. By its nature, packaging will always produce waste, however, plastic packaging is not necessarily the biggest culprit. This comes as no surprise as flexible packaging requires much less material for production than its traditional counterparts. Moving onto the reuse and recycle stages of the cycle, another set of terms that are commonly used interchangeably are recycled versus recyclable packaging. So, what is the difference between the two? Recycled packaging is packaging made using a percentage of raw material that has come from recycling old packaging. Recyclable packaging refers to packaging made from virgin materials that are easily recycled. The idea of sourcing packaging made from recycled content is great, however, With over 75% of global flexible packaging being used to pack food and limited infrastructure for recycling plastic laminates, especially those that are contaminated by food products, packaging converters and brands face the task of meeting food safety regulations.

Foxpak has developed a recyclable solution made from virgin materials in the same plastic polymer family making them much easier to recycle. Our recyclable laminate is classified by the resin identification code 4 made from Low-density Polyethylene meaning its widely recycled at collection points.


Paper-based Flexible Packaging


innovative packaging solutionsWithout sustainable packaging, it’s hard for a brand to maintain its reputation for environmental stewardship. One of the biggest contributing factors to this is the plastic-free movement which has become the forerunner of packaging discussions. But what does it mean? We have already discussed the importance of plastic for the food industry in terms of longevity and protection of the product, but what about packaging for non-food products, fast-moving consumer goods or single-serve portions? Without the requirement of barrier or preservation characteristics, brands are free to choose plastic free-paper packaging, arguably the most sustainable material option. Paper is the most obviously recyclable packaging material, it’s naturally sourced and can easily biodegrade back into nature. The paper recycling stream is one of the most widely available which means we can efficiently and effectively divert waste from landfill. However, paper has some environmental limitations. Paper used in packaging is technically down-cycled at the end of life, not recycled. After initial use, paper is disposed of through dry waste recycling streams, it is separated by type and grade, water and chemicals are added to return it to a pulp form and it’s then remade into recycled paper. This process inevitably weakens the papers natural fibres and results in a newly processed material which contains contaminated fibres that do not meet food-grade standards. This inhibits the new material from being used for the same purpose as the initial material. To overcome this, raw material manufacturers supply the packaging industry with either virgin paper or paper containing a percentage of recycled content that abides by the laws of food safety contact.

Foxpaks paper packaging is made from virgin paper which is ethically and sustainably sourced from FSC certified plantations. This material is not only recyclable but repulpable and biodegradable. Our fluorocarbon-free white paper material comes with an aqueous-based plastic-free coating which can be heat sealed to ensure packaging strength and product freshness without the contamination of traditional plastic laminates.



So what’s the best choice for your product?

Although the advancements of sustainable alternatives to traditional plastic are making waves in a range of different industries, each sustainable material has its benefits and drawbacks. For example, paper may be the most sustainable material option in terms of how we dispose of it after use, however, it provides the lowest barrier properties for food products and is limited in its applications. The table below outlines, in broad terms, the suitable applications for each of our generation green packaging material options.

Table outlining a range of suitable applications for compostable, recyclable and paper packaging

For more information on our Generation Green range and advise on which sustainable packaging option is best for your product, get in contact with us and a member of our team will be happy to talk you through your options in more detail.


Thanks for reading,

Foxpak Logo

Flexible Packaging and the Environment: Part I

Blog Post Feature - Flexible by name sustainable by nature

Flexible packaging is unique in that’s its sustainable characteristics come from producing less waste in the first place. By choosing flexible packaging over more traditional packaging formats such as glass, rigid plastic, metal and cardboard, you are already taking steps towards reducing food waste, greenhouse gasses and excess energy consumption.


Reducing Food Waste

Table showing the difference in shelf life achieved by food products using flexible versus traditional packagingAccording to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), An estimated 1.3 billion tonnes, or roughly 30% of global food production, is lost or wasted every year. Generally, when food waste ends up in landfill it produces methane – a potent greenhouse gas which is 21 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide. This methane production accounts for around 10% of the total greenhouse gas emissions per year. Flexible packaging has the ability to extend the shelf life of food products. By integrating specifically chosen barriers to the material laminate, you can extend your product shelf life dramatically. Alongside its resealable features, gas flushing technology and portion control properties, it’s is a great solution to reducing food waste.


Reducing Energy Consumption

table highlighting the difference in energy consumption when producing different packaging typesFlexible packaging uses less energy to produce compared to traditional rigid packaging options. Due to its flexible nature, it holds more like for like product volume compared to traditional packaging. Less packaging means optimized energy consumption which in turn leads to lower operating costs. At its end of life, traditional flexible packaging is sent for incineration. With the waste-to-energy (WTE) trend becoming a more viable end-of-life option for flexible packaging materials, packaging converters are burning flexible packaging waste to generate energy which can be pumped back into their manufacturing process.




Reducing CO2 Emissions

infographic showing the number of trucks required to deliver glass jars versus flexible packaging


Flexible Packaging is extremely lightweight. On average, one plastic pouch is 35 times lighter than its glass jar counterpart and due to its flexible nature, has a higher product-to-packaging ratio holding more like for like volume compared to traditional packaging. Since it often ships flat or in rolls instead of fully formed and empty like bottles or cans, flexible packaging requires between 15-25 fewer trucks to ship the same amount of packaging. 25 fewer delivery trucks equate to approximately 85g less CO2 per delivery omitted into the atmosphere.



Sustainable materials

Taking the concept of flexible packaging and the environment a step further, material manufacturers are now introducing more sustainable bio-based, paper or widely recyclable laminates as an alternative to traditional mixed plastic laminates. Where before, these bio-based materials were unable to compete with standard plastic in terms of protecting the product being packed, advancements now see brands benefiting from the advantages of traditional flexible packaging with a lower impact on the environment.

three sustainable flexible packaging material options


In part two of this blog series, we will be talking through the different sustainable material options for flexible packaging. in the meantime, you can view our sustainable packaging range here.


Thanks for reading,

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