Based in the heart of the East Midlands, SME premier contract packing company WePack is taking its sustainability agenda one step further by implementing 100% recyclable chilled water packs.

Businesses across the packaging sector are constantly looking for the most sustainable packaging options for their products as ESG (environmental, social, governance) target dates draw closer. A recent report by Packaging Gateway’s parent company GlobalData – ESG – Top Trends by Sector – identified advanced materials as a key technology trend impacting ESG performance, stating that more and more companies are turning to recycled materials in order to lower their impact on the environment.

Mick Clark, managing director at WePack has over 26 years of experience working in the packing industry

WePack recently attended the Packaging Innovations & Empack exhibition at the Birmingham NEC in Birmingham and were keen to highlight to the attendees of the event the role their gel packs have in the future of packaging. The BRCAA grade-certified Derbyshire-based company specialise in packing food and non-food products into bags, pouches, stand-up pouches and bottles as well as carry out a huge selection of rework and assembly jobs. 

Serving over 400 customers and with a turnover of GBP4.6m per annum, a sustainable alternative to unrecyclable plastics is key to success as the industry looks away from single-use plastics to sustainable packaging options

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Managing director at WePack Mick Clark told Packaging Gateway during the exhibition that chilled water packs are made from gel, provide thermal packaging solutions for the delivery of temperature-sensitive products and are 100% sustainable.

“It is a product which can be fully flushed down any normal drain, the pack itself can be reused over and over again. It can be frozen and thawed a number of times so it has the capability to be reused. If the company or the consumer wishes just to dispose of the product, they can simply cut the end of the bag open, empty the contents down the sink and then the packaging itself is fully 100% recyclable,” Clark said. 

He also pointed out the idea behind the innovation was to provide a sustainable packing option as the general need for food products to arrive at a consumer’s door with internet-ordered fresh food had increased over the Covid period whilst people were operating from home. 

He added: “More food companies that offered fresh foods needed chill packs to keep their products fresh between the distribution centres and the consumer’s doors.”

The company prides itself on its eco-friendly values using 100% compostable films and transporting products in low-emissions vans and electric company vehicles. Although there is a big cull on the use of single-use plastics, there is still a place in packaging for plastics that are recyclable. The gel packs used by WePack are made from LDPE (low density polyethylene), a material commonly recycled with other polythene products.

“Most of the gel packs we’ve noted on the market are laminated (2-part film), meaning there are two plastics laminated together, which makes them completely non-recyclable under normal circumstances,” Clark continued. In fact, he said: “We use 100% PE, so it can be fully recycled.

Creating a sustainable package is one part of the challenge in bringing a product to market that fits in with today’s environmentally conscious consumer, but there are others that businesses face.

“The main challenges have been around the customer’s cartons and boxes along with the sizes of the packs. Many of them need special sizes to suit their boxes and we try to be very accommodating and meet all our customer’s needs.”