Packaging waste is a hot topic within the packaging sector and packaging consultancy Duo has turned words into action with a £3m (US$3.6m) investment in the British circular economy.
The Manchester-based company which has 34 years of experience in packaging solutions sought to close the loop in April 2022 by establishing a new recycling company in Leeds called Duclo Recycling. Operations director at Duo, Dale Brimelow, told Packaging Gateway the 44,000-square foot plant has the capacity to recycle 24 tonnes of plastic waste every day.
“Duo has been around for 34 years and we’re manufacturers of plastic packaging, predominantly mail order and industrial films. Over this period, we have used recycled materials, back in 2018 we were using about 25% recycled material and we’re now running at about 62% recycled.
“In terms of Duclo, we looked at what was happening within the recycling industry and saw there was a big shift towards post-consumer recycled waste. It was previously focused on industrial recycled materials, which is different to post-consumer and most of the post-consumer suppliers are in Europe.”
With rising inflation and UK legislation around packaging throwing up different challenges for businesses, particularly those that import plastics for manufacturing, many are having to assess their business models to fall in line. Brimelow said Duo saw a gap in the market and felt it could bring about a closed-loop system by using the customers it already had.
Packaging waste is a global issue and according to The Guardian, the UK alone discards 97 billion tonnes of plastic waste, of which only a staggering 12% is recycled.
“The problem is there is a lot of contamination. There’s a lot of stuff that gets contaminated inside the plastics and people are mixing the wrong plastics together so they get contaminated. The idea is for waste to go into the wash facility, where we have a sorting process before it goes into the recycler. It goes through a trommel and we can pull the majority of the contamination out of it before it goes into the washing and recycling process.
Brimelow explained that a closed-loop system is what a lot of Duclo’s customers want as recycled materials are more sustainable than virgin plastics and the aim is to partner with other businesses to boost circularity.
“We’re already producing factory environment enrollment. We’re using recycled materials, but the idea is to collect waste and educate businesses at their facility to segregate waste at the source. Then we can bring it back to our factory at Duclo for recycling and put the recycled material back into the same products. We’re doing the full closed-loop system and it is a lot more sustainable.”
The creation of Duclo Recycling is a venture that could kick-start the UK circular economy and encourage other businesses to get on board or follow a similar business model. Brimelow says Duo will be putting a lot of that recycled content back into products with the aim of having 50% available for other businesses.
“There’s going to be greater access to recycled material and most importantly, post-consumer recycled material. A lot of the post-consumer materials are imported into the UK. There are not many made in the UK but we’re going to produce a good-quality pellet.”
When asked what more could be done to improve the UK circular economy, Brimelow stated clarity around legislation and a certification from an accredited body would help businesses to know where they stand in terms of their plastic usage.
He explained: “There is a certification available called EuCertPlast but you have to buy it from Europe.”