I love thinking outside the box, but frequently I end up down a hole as a result. Mistakes are a learning opportunity.
Sustainability is much talked about, and I think Westaways leads the UK Food and Drink sector in developing and introducing new scalable materials and designs that help reduce the impact on the environment. Suppliers to the UK Grocers still use over 1 million tonnes of plastic every year to package the items on their shelves. This is at a time when recycling rates have plateaued
By using sustainably sourced card trays to pack our sausages, we have cut our use of plastic trays by around 60 tonnes a year. Furthermore, I know that none of these card trays has ended up as fugitive waste, or if it has it has quickly degraded to harmless biomass.
What is next on my to do list?
My office is full of projects and samples that we are working on. I had been looking at our small 400g retail packs and what else we might do to make these even more sustainable. This pack won UK Packaging Innovation of the year in 2020, it would be cool to take this award-winning design and rework it to win the same award again. I wanted the pack design to fit in someone’s hand easily, be quicker to pack with sausages, to present well on the shelf, to be more sustainable and to be cheaper. Quite a challenge, and although it was on my to do list, I was struggling to find solutions.
Today that might have changed, Tams Packaging sent me a pack design and asked for feedback, so I packed some sausages and gave my feedback. I really liked it. Their concept design was a tray and flap, with an internal flange. It meant we did not need to use a sleeve. Our current pack uses a 16g tray and a 14g sleeve both made of card. This concept design weighed in at just 18g, cutting the weight of packaging by nearly 50%, and saving a staggering 12,000kg on every million packs.
Less weight to ship, less weight to buy, and better use of resources.
The clever bit now will be to ensure the design incorporates as many of the other features on my wish list, and then add some real magic. For example, could local grass be used to manufacture the card rather than wood pulp.
If we could get that to work then it would be a great story, but equally, I could be heading down another hole.
Only time and persistence will tell.