The UK Packaging Industry and its Impact on UK Waste

The UK packaging manufacturing sector employs 85,000 people in the UK which overall represents 3% of the manufacturing industry workforce in Great Britain. The packaging industry is a major contributor to the GDP in the UK and has allowed increases in efficiency across various other sectors including the food and beverage industry. Given that there are over 7 billion humans on Planet Earth, it is likely that the majority of these people will come into contact with packaging at some point or another –  unless they live in a far remote land. Due to constantly increasing consumer demands there is a consistent need to innovate and improve in this industry, in order to meet current demands. This has been majorly helped through the advancements in technology which have taken place in the last 10 years.

Packaging as a Good

Packaging is not sold as a good to consumers – it is rather used where products are sold and provides a method of delivery, getting goods to where they need to be safely and securely. Therefore, the demand for packaging is ultimately linked to the demand for goods. If there is a lower demand for goods which require packaging, there will be a reduced need for the production of packaging.

In this era consumers are demanding products so quickly and frequently that there is a major need for the packaging of products. Packaging is needed to protect good and allow them to be provided quickly and to be of high quality.

The past eight years has seen a 3% rise in the amount of packaging used in the UK. During this time our GDP within the UK has increased by a massive 17%, although the overall amount spent by households also increased by at least 20%.

 

The UK Packaging Industry’s Impact on Waste.

The overall packaging manufacturing industry has helped to raise Great Britain’s waste recycling record from 28% in the late 90s to 65% over a ten-year period. This has helped to put us almost on par with the majority of our European allies.  The overall impact on the environment of packaging (including when it is either recycled or disposed) is far lower than the unintentional damage that would occur from a product which is wasted if packaging was not in use. In fact, here is some information relating to waste in the UK:

  • Less than 3% of all rubbish dump waste is packaging waste
  • 18% of waste which comes from households is from packaging and  was far higher, due to methane which is produced when landfills decompose, this waste was more than 15 times higher than that of packaging.
  • During their life the environmental impact of glass, metal, paper and plastic types of packaging is extremely small compared with the benefits they provide in the protection of products and food/drink.
  • Recycled materials are now being widely used for plastic packaging.
  • Due to the difference in thinking between local governments and targets set by the EU there is a threat to progress in this area of recycling.