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Businesses unite for a more sustainable packaging

Global Society & Global Goals
Businesses unite for a more sustainable packaging

All of the multipacks of soft drinks and water sold by Albert Heijn, Jumbo, Coca-Cola in the Netherlands, and Vrumona will no longer have plastic handles in Dutch supermarkets. This change is expected to reduce the amount of plastic used annually by 40,000 kg and increase the rest of the pack's potential to be recycled.

Recently, certain packaging have already had this modification made, and according to the companies, it seems to be doable for the consumer. This procedure is now being applied to all multipacks for that reason.

The majority of customers have likely held the handles, also known as carrying loops or handylifts, intentionally or unconsciously. They can be found on multipacks that include four or six big bottles of water or soft drinks, etc, that are sold at supermarkets.

They are made to make lifting easier. Convenient for consumers, but less recyclable because they are frequently made of reinforced plastic, which is a different material from the rest of the packaging.

The removal of the handle enhances the recyclability of bundle packaging, according to Niels van Marle of the Knowledge Institute Sustainable Packaging (KIDV). The handles are constructed of the flexible plastic material polyethylene terephthalate (PET), while the outside package is made of low-density polyethylene (LDPE). The two separate materials end up combined in the recycle stream if you, the consumer, dispose of this outer packaging in one motion, i.e. without separating the handles from the outer packing.

Because PET has very different recycling characteristics from LDPE, such as a different melting temperature, this may make recycling more difficult. In the KIDV's recycle test, the new packaging without a handle performs better than the one with a handle. Furthermore, leaving off the handles automatically can save material.

Consumers can still hold the packaging securely when they open it on the side, the companies claim, based on their experiences to date. In the upcoming months, stores in the Netherlands will slowly introduce packaging without handles.

The Dutch Plastic Pact, which aims to lessen plastic consumption and increase recycling, has been signed by all parties involved.

"The adaption of this packaging is another step towards more sustainable plastic packaging," says Martijn van Rijn of Plastic Pact.

Because these businesses collaborate, a significant impact is made all at once, which is appropriate for achieving the objectives and Sustainable Development Goals.


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