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New research by Aquapak, a material technologies business, shows that European packaging businesses are committed to the circular economy, but few are acting ahead of legislation.

The study shows that 85 per cent of businesses have a circular economy strategy, which involves reusing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible, with 21 per cent saying they will be fully circular within three years. Almost a quarter have a three to four-year time frame for achieving circularity and a further 23 per cent expect to meet this objective within four to five years. However, 11 per cent said that they did not have such a strategy in place and a further 5 per cent didn’t know.

However, with forthcoming legislation set to have a major impact on packaging and packaging design, the study also looked at how this was affecting the rate of change in businesses as they seek to improve sustainability and circularity.

Just 20 per cent of businesses said they are acting ahead of legislation and 45 per cent said they respond quickly to new rules when they are announced. However, 24 per cent described their rate of change as ‘medium’ and 10 per cent as ‘very slow’.

Mark Lapping, CEO of Aquapak, said, “Our study shows that the European packaging producers are embracing the circular economy, with a focus on achieving full circularity. At Aquapak, we are supporting this goal by helping our customers use the world’s resources more effectively by reducing waste and increasing the reuse of valuable materials as part of the circular economy through new technologies which provide the functionality needed to protect products, whilst reducing the impact on the environment. 

In response to the report, Aquapak says it has developed Hydropol, a polymer based on PVOH, which can be successfully coated on to both paper and board, with proven gas and grease barrier properties, and additional functionality such as heat seal and increased paper sheet strength, which the company says makes it suitable for a range of packaging uses such as bags and pouches.

Aquapak goes on to say that Hydropol-coated paper is 100 per cent repulpable in standard pulping systems and can be fully recycled. The company also claims that Hydropol is biodegradable, compostable, as well as being non-toxic and marine-safe.

Download the full report here.

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