Plastic Packaging Seeking Circular Solutions

Anders Pollard Stampe

Student thesis: Diploma thesis


We cannot live without plastic. It is both durable and inexpensive to produce, and we use it for a myriad of purposes in industry and in its products, we surround ourselves with it in everyday life. Plastic is a useful material, but the rising rate of global plastic pollution, and its unsustainability is alarming.
An essential part of our challenge to change the way we utilize plastic is to overcome the obstacle of plastic being produced in a multitude of compounds, colors, and shapes. This makes the cost of collection, treatment, segregation of products, components, and materials, as one of the biggest barriers to creating circular-inspired closed loops.
EPR for packaging will be introduced from 2025in Denmark. Producer responsibility will promote environmentally sound packaging design, including plastic packaging, and ensure that packaging is recycled or reused.
There is a growing awareness of plastic issues within Danish companies, this should be utilized to find more circular solutions that increase reuse and recycling, and reduce unnecessary consumption of plastic. Anticipating and designing these reverse networks and developing capabilities are therefore critical. Solutions must be found across the value chain.
FMCG companies with personal care products have set goals that meet EU objectives. The good thing is that new designs are being introduced that will reduce the volume of plastic in the packaging. Unfortunately, most solutions seem short-term in terms of environmental considerations, as only recycling has their focus. A recycling strategy is not ambitious and long-term enough. It encourages single-use and significant resources are still needed to break down plastic packaging, and then remanufacture them.
An ambitious long-term strategy aspires to more than simpler product redesign and remanufacture. I suggest a circular loop that will reuse personal care product packaging's. The industry will collaborate on a range of standardized designs for their packaging. The products will only be differentiated by content and by labels. I have asked a sample of the consumers, and they take to the idea well, and they do not think it will affect their buying decision. The industry and sales channels will collaborate on the reverse logistics. A return deposit scheme will be introduced on the Danish market, to create incentives to return packaging, and this will initially deal with the grocery stores and Matas’ own private labels.
A transition to a circular economy is an all-encompassing process that will need to be phased in over a number of years. With plastic pollution becoming a plague to the Planet there are drastic actions needed in order to clean the mess already made and ensure that future generations do not follow the harmful practices of today.

EducationsGraduate Diploma in Supply Chain Management, (Diploma Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2020
Number of pages114
SupervisorsVictor Lund