Search for green easy-open packaging intensifies as government bans single use plastic

As the Government of India’s single use plastic ban is scheduled to come into force on July 1, the packaging sector is racing to implement easy-open packaging that balances sustainability with performance.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is moving ahead with its proposed ban, which was first announced last year, following its 2019 resolution to reduce plastic pollution across India. The measure is forcing the packaging industry to adapt by integrating more sustainable alternatives to oil derived plastics, such as including post-consumer recycled plastic or paper-based materials, and easy-open tape manufacturers must also innovate in line with these requirements.

There is an array of promising alternatives to plastic that will help progress the industry towards the goal of fully circular solutions, according to Ian Beresford, Head of Marketing and Development at leading tapes manufacturer Essentra Tapes. Discussing the ban, he said, “While plastic reduction laws such as these are beneficial in the long term, they do pose some short-term challenges for the whole packaging industry. In particular, they demand innovative thinking from sectors that rely on plastic film overwrap such as the tobacco industry.

“We know that, while consumers want more eco-friendly packaging, it must also be desirable and functional or its impact will be limited. Converters and brands must ensure their packaging is enhanced with easy-open technology while balancing that with their environmental obligations. Sustainable easy-open tapes are absolutely at the heart of the Net Zero future.

“We have already developed SupaStrip PCR, a 70% post-consumer recycled plastic tape for flexible packaging. And we are seeing promising results on compostable alternatives. We have received a lot of interest in these products from our Indian colleagues and customers. So, where there are challenges, there are also great opportunities.”

40% – around 10,000 tonnes – of plastic waste in India remains uncollected, according to the Foundation for Campaign Against Plastic Pollution. While the single use plastic ban has been welcomed by environmental campaigners, there is broad agreement that more action is needed. It is expected that the government will announce more initiatives and regulations to promote alternatives to single use plastic in future.

Beresford added, “We would advise businesses who use plastic packaging to look into overhauling their packaging now. It is only a matter of time before the Central Government toughens up these laws, and any company that has advanced their packaging sustainability agenda now – including easy-open solutions – by then will already be one step ahead of the competition.”

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