2 maY 2019

Pret A Manger is to fully label food in bid to earn back customer trust

UK sandwich and cafe chain Pret A Manger is to rollout nationally its full ingredient labels for food packaging today, as part of its Five-Point Allergy Plan.

The plan has been created to provide customers with full information about Pret food and drink, specifically those with allergies and intolerances.

Calls were made for Pret to further regulate its labelling following the deaths of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse and Celia Marsh, in 2016 and 2017 respectively, who unknowingly consumed incorrectly-labelled Pret products.

The Allergy Plan includes training staff on the new labelling process, sharing the plan details with the government and wider industry, the availability of tablets loaded with full ingredient labels lists installed in every UK shop, the removal of allergens, sharing quarterly incident updates, and continual allergy awareness training.

The chain said it will continue to work with Tim J. Smith and the independent Food Advisory Panel, who have been reviewing Pret’s food policies and will be advising on further changes over the coming months. The full ingredient labels were initally trialled at one of Pret’s Victoria, London stores, in December last year.

Pret A Manger CEO Clive Schlee said: “The issue of allergies has struck a deep chord within Pret A Manger following the tragic deaths of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse and Celia Marsh. We said we would learn from the past and make meaningful changes. This plan brings together some of the most important changes we have been making to help customers with allergies.

“At the heart of the plan is the rollout of full ingredient labels on Pret’s freshly made products. Thanks to the dedication of many Pret team members, we have been able to show that full ingredient labelling is operationally possible in small kitchens when proper care is taken.

“But labelling is only part of the challenge. We have listened to Pret customers with allergies and they have told us they face a range of issues when deciding to eat out – from limited menu choices to a lack of awareness and understanding from food businesses.

“Pret’s Allergy Plan will tackle many of these issues and help to ensure that every customer has the information they need to make the right choice for them.”


2 maY 2019

Sealed Air agrees to acquire Automated Packaging Systems for $510m

Sealed Air has signed a definitive agreement to acquire US-based automated bagging systems manufacturer Automated Packaging Systems (APS) for a total consideration of $510m.

To be executed on a cash and debt-free basis, the proposed acquisition will allow Sealed Air to broaden its portfolio to drive growth in the e-commerce, fulfilment and food packaging markets. The transaction is also anticipated to extend its leading automation, direct service expertise and total systems approach.

Sealed Air will be able to leverage cross-selling opportunities that will yield additional growth in key markets. The company also expects to achieve cost synergies from supply chain efficiencies.

Founded in 1962, APS is a supplier of full flexible packaging systems, including equipment, sustainable materials and technical services. Its portfolio includes Autobag bagging machines, pre-opened bags on a roll, and three recycled film solutions under the EarthAware brand.

Sealed Air president and CEO Ted Doheny said: “APS is a market leader with unique and innovative solutions, complete with automated equipment, materials and services.

“This transaction expands the breadth of our automated solutions and sustainable packaging offerings, giving us access to growth opportunities in the markets we serve. We are confident that the APS business will thrive as part of our platform, given our global reach, distribution network and supply chain operations.”

The company noted that the transaction is anticipated to be accretive to adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) this year.

The acquisition will also help Sealed Air to expand protective packaging with complementary solutions and services.

APS will add complementary and additive capabilities, including expertise in engineering, automation technology and sustainability. The deal is in line with Sealed Air’s Reinvent SEE goal of double its innovation rate over the next five years.

Subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions, the completion of the transaction is expected to take place in the third quarter of this year. Earlier this year, Sealed Air purchased Philippines-based producer MGM to expand food packaging operations in Asia.


2 maY 2019

Sainsbury’s unveils new measures to reduce plastic packaging

UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has announced several measures to tackle plastic waste, including a pledge to end the use of difficult-to-recycle dark coloured plastics by March 2020. The proposed measures are expected to help the company eliminate 1,160t of plastic packaging. 

The retailer will also remove all plastic packaging from Christmas crackers, as well as sweetheart and savoy cabbages. Other commitments include reducing the weight of the plastic used in ready meal trays and the thickness of clothing bags.

By the end of next year, Sainsbury’s aims to replace all fruit and vegetable packaging with recycled alternatives by the end of next year.

Sainsbury’s will switch all sparkling water bottles from green to clear by the end of this year, as well as 30% of all plastic packaging with recycled content ‘where possible’ by 2022.

The retailer will also launch a ‘pre-cycle’ trial scheme that will allow customers to remove unwanted primary and secondary packaging in-store and leave it for recycling. The move is aimed at ensuring the protection of food through the supply chain while offering customers the option to recycle packaging in-store.

Sainsbury’s CEO Mike Coupe said: “We are serious about reducing plastic. For many years, Sainsbury’s has prioritised sustainability and sought innovative solutions to reduce plastic packaging and increase recycling.

“Today’s announcements show what we have already achieved and demonstrate our firm commitments for the future to make significant reductions in plastic use.”

As part of its commitment to fight plastic pollution, the retailer announced that customer recycling facilities will be made available at an additional 125 stores.

The chain is working in partnership with other organisations to develop new packaging and recycling technologies. In addition, it is also piloting deposit return schemes to enable customers to easily return recyclable packaging.

Meanwhile, Sainsbury’s has revealed that the failed bid to acquire rival Asda cost £46m last year. The company’s sales during the fourth quarter fell 0.9% and annual pre-tax profits declined by 41.6% to £239m.


30 april 2019

London Marathon reduces plastic bottle usage with edible drink pouches

Ooho seaweed pouches and compostable cups replaced 216,000 plastic bottles at the London Marathon this year. One of the many innovative initiatives the London Marathon has trialled this year, the edible and biodegradable vegan seaweed pouches were developed by Skipping Rocks lab.

This year’s event saw a significant decrease in plastic bottle usage; while 920,000 bottles were used during the 2018 event, only 704,000 were used this year.

When runners finished drinking the pouch, they could either eat them or throw them on the floor as they biodegrade within six weeks.

Earlier this month London Marathon Events announced it was aiming to make this year’s race the most sustainable yet, with the organisation aiming to have zero waste to landfill by December 2020.

More than 30,000 of the vegan pouches were handed to runners at the Lucozade Sport station, having been initially trialled at the Richmond Marathon in September last year. Skipping Rocks Lab is working in partnership with soft drinks company Lucozade Ribena Suntory to cut down the use of plastic bottles in sports. 

LME event director Hugh Brasher said: “We are passionate about the concept of eliminate, reduce, reuse and recycle and fully committed to reducing our environmental impact. We believe we run the best mass participation events in the world and we want to match that by leading the world in mass participation event sustainability.

“Working closely with our partners and local authorities, we have developed some truly innovative initiatives and plans to make this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon the most sustainable ever.”

Lucozade Sport head of marketing Claire Keaveny said: “It is only with collaboration and forward-thinking initiatives such as this partnership with the Virgin Money London Marathon that we can begin to address the global issue of plastic waste and continue to minimise our impact on the environment.”


30 april 2019

Nestlé Waters, PepsiCo and Suntory to boost PET plastic recyclability

Nestlé Waters, PepsiCo, and Suntory Beverage and Food Europe have teamed up to support recyclability of products made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic. The beverage firms have joined the consortium founded by Carbios and L’Oréal in a bid to work collaboratively in enhancing the enzymatic recycling technology.

Carbios CEO Jean-Claude Lumaret said: “We are thrilled to welcome Nestlé Waters, PepsiCo, and Suntory Beverage and Food Europe into the consortium we have created with L’Oréal.

“Their contribution will accelerate our common ambition and help to industrialise our recycling technology, which brings a breakthrough solution in the treatment of plastic waste.”

As part of the four-year partnership, the consortium partners will work collaboratively to introduce PET-enhanced recycling technology from Carbios to the market, as well as increase the availability of high-quality recycled plastics to fulfil their sustainability commitments.

They will also focus on achieving technical milestones and provide support to supply consumer-grade, 100%-recycled PET plastics for global markets.

Nestlé Waters R&D head Massimo Casella said: “We are pleased to be joining the Consortium in supporting the development of this new technology.

“It can help us to achieve Nestlé’s goal of increasing the amount of recycled PET content in our bottles without compromising on quality and contribute to creating an environmentally sustainable world for the next generation.”

Leveraging highly specific enzymes, Carbios developed a sustainable technology to recycle much broader PET plastics and polyester fibres feedstock. The process creates recycled PET for various applications such as making bottles and other forms of packaging. The material can be used repeatedly and is suitable to produce new products with 100% recycled PET content.


29 april 2019

Biodegradable plastic bags still usable after three years in the sea

Biodegradable plastic bags have been found to be in useable condition after surviving three years in the sea, soil and open-air, according to a study by researchers at the University of Plymouth’s International Marine Litter Research Unit.

Published in Environmental Science & Technology, the study tested a range of biodegradable, compostable and conventional plastic bags, which were exposed to natural environments. The results showed that the compostable bag survived 27 months in soil but composted completely in the sea.

A number of the tested plastic bags were marketed using sustainability statements, such as ‘plant-based alternatives to plastic’ and ‘recycled back into nature much more quickly than ordinary plastic.’

Lead author of the study Dr Imogen Napper said: After three years, I was really amazed that any of the bags could still hold a load of shopping.

“For biodegradable bags to be able to do that was the most surprising. When you see something labelled in that way, I think you automatically assume it will degrade more quickly than conventional bags. But, after three years at least, our research shows that might not be the case.”

International Marine Litter Research Unit head Professor Richard Thompson said: “This research raises a number of questions about what the public might expect when they see something labelled as biodegradable.

“We demonstrate here that the materials tested did not present any consistent, reliable and relevant advantage in the context of marine litter. It concerns me that these novel materials also present challenges in recycling.

“Our study emphasises the need for standards relating to degradable materials, clearly outlining the appropriate disposal pathway and rates of degradation that can be expected.”


24 april 2019

New York Governor signs new law to ban single-use plastic bags

New York Governor Andrew M Cuomo has signed a new law that bans the sale of single-use plastic bags in the US state beginning March 2020. With this bill, New York joins California and Hawaii, which are the only states in the US where single-use plastic bags are banned.

The legislation focuses on reducing plastic pollution and protecting marine and wildlife. It will also help to lower greenhouse gas emissions associated with plastic bag production and disposal.

The new law restricts the supply of single-use plastic carry bags at any point of sale and allows the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to take exclusive control of all matters related to plastic bags. However, the ban exempts garment, trash and food container bags.

DEC will work closely with stakeholders and community leaders to make sure the new law does not adversely affect low and moderate income and environmental justice communities through the distribution of reusable bags.

Cuomo said: “You see plastic bags hanging in trees, blowing down the streets, in landfills and in our waterways, and there is no doubt they are doing tremendous damage.

“Twelve million barrels of oil are used to make the plastic bags we use every year and by 2050 there will be more plastic by weight in the oceans than fish. We need to stop using plastic bags, and, today, we’re putting an end to this blight on our environment.”

As part of the ban, counties or cities will have the option to charge a $0.05 fee for single-use paper bags. A total of $0.03 will go to the Environmental Protection Fund and the remaining $0.02 will be donated locally to pay for the distribution of reusable bags.

Chaired by commissioner Basil Seggos, Cuomo created the New York State Plastic Bag Task Force in March 2017 to develop a comprehensive solution to the plastic bag problem.

After analysing the impacts of single-use plastic bags, the task force offered several options for legislation to assist the government in developing a state-wide solution to the problem.


17 april 2019

IEA calls for UK deposit return scheme to be scrapped

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has called for the UK government to scrap its proposed deposit return scheme (DRS) due to high costs in a report by IEA head of lifestyle economics Christopher Snowdon.

The report states that the running costs of the government's DRS for drinks cans and bottles make it a very expensive way to achieve very little. The scheme is expected to cost around £1bn to set up and £814m per year thereafter to collect recyclables worth just £37m.

Snowdon says in the report that the DRS needs a more strong economic justification and, if it is to proceed, glass bottles should be omitted due to their low recycling value, which could persuade manufacturers to replace disposable plastic with reusable glass. He adds that containers larger than 500ml should be omitted and to make out-of-home recycling easier by providing better street bins over using costly and inefficient deposit services.

Snowdon said: “A bottle deposit scheme is a nice idea in principle, but it doesn’t make economic sense. The government’s own estimates show that it will cost over £800m to collect recyclables worth just £37m. It is a loss-making enterprise, which consumers will ultimately pay for.

“In addition, everybody is going to have to start traipsing off to collection points with bottles and cans, which would otherwise be recovered with a minimum of hassle through kerbside collection.

“To make the scheme appear worthwhile, the government has put an unfeasibly large figure on the value of a modest reduction in littering, while totally ignoring the unpaid labour that will be expected of every household. Increasing recycling rates is a noble aim but it should not be done at any cost.”