Paper-based punnets deliver ‘breakthrough in packaging sustainability’ claims manufacturer

By Oliver Morrison

- Last updated on GMT

Image: Westpak
Image: Westpak

Related tags Plastic Packaging

Packaging manufacturer Westpak has unveiled a series of new punnets and tray designs which it claims deliver a manufacturing breakthrough in packaging sustainability and offer grocery retailers and their suppliers a set of commercially viable paper-based alternative to plastic punnets.

The new range is comprised of a 500g microflute punnet and a 250g pressboard produce tray, both of which are fully recyclable and offer the option of bespoke branding.

The punnet is made from micro flute and the tray is made from pressboard.

The 500g punnet is also manufactured from recycled content. The 250g pressboard tray option features a Polyethylene (PE) lining (adhering to OPRL, the body that oversees the industry’s On-Pack Recycling Label scheme, OPRL recycling guidelines of under 10%) and is The Forest Stewardship Council certified.

These heat-seal card punnets are the culmination of a key objective for the Westpak brand – to break the grocery industry’s long-standing dependence on plastic punnets for commercial heat-sealing processes. Westpak has undertaken a series of testing and refinement processes to ensure the most seamless possible integration of this exciting new material technology.

Seth Hicks, Managing Director at Westpak Group Ltd said: “The development of this new technology is something the industry and consumers alike have been eagerly anticipating for quite some time and we’re proud to be at the forefront of this change. The potential for this technology to be utilised across the industry is huge and represents a significant step forward in helping some of the best-known retailers work towards their ambitious corporate sustainability goals."

They will be aimed at major grocery retailers and their main suppliers of fresh produce such as grapes, cherries and berries.

The company already uses microflute for other products across its packaging ranges. However, the new range is differentiated in its compatibility with heat sealing, which has hitherto relied on plastic punnets.

The company is not putting a figure on how many new punnets and tray designs it expects to make. “All we can say is that the potential is there for this to make a huge impact on the industry,”​ a spokesperson said.

The company added that the potential to switch from plastic to card- and paper-based punnets which maintain the heat-sealing process presents a range of environmental benefits.

While debate remains on the sustainability costs and benefits around card and plastics, paper-based products are seen as offering high sustainability levels due to utilising renewable sources as well as being comparatively easy to recycle.

“Plastic reduction has also become one of the biggest sustainability drives across the grocery retail industry highlighted by numerous retailers highlighting their achievements as well as various European nations announcing upcoming outright bans on plastic packaging for fruit and vegetables,”​ the spokesperson added. “Now is the time to embrace card and paper-based fresh produce packaging before similar restrictions could follow in the UK."

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