The European Union (EU) aims to levy measures to reduce plastic waste, including a new packaging law that regulates product responsibility for packaging much more stringently, aims to promote the consideration of environmental impact already during design and make it tangible in the price. According to the German Central Packaging Register Office (ZSVR), while packaging generally has a protective function, there is still plenty of potential for improvement when it comes to avoidance and recycling.

The ZSVR, which is the new authority responsible for controlling the recycling of packaging, states that non-recyclable or poorly recyclable packaging will become more expensive next year. Packaging that can be returned to the resource circulation system and from which new products and packaging can be made, on the other hand, will be given preferential treatment.

For one thing, the EU has drawn up a so-called Black List of disposable items which could be banned, according to the EU. This agenda includes disposable and plastic crockery and cutlery, drinking straws, stirrers, holders for balloons and cotton buds. It is not clear when a decision will be made on this draft law. Nevertheless, a plastic ban is on everyone’s lips. And it would appear to be prudent to start looking for alternatives.

Reusable instead of disposable has therefore been the maxim for some time within the framework of collaboration between Actega DS and Ornamin, a supplier of reusable crockery made of plastic, and other suppliers of reusable items made of plastic (e.g. reusable solutions for coffee-to-go cups). 

“In our corporate principles, one thing we have committed ourselves to is sustainability. This also means manufacturing exclusively durable quality products with real benefits. We reject the production of single-use or disposable products. Furthermore, we have established a process for optimizing the recycling rate in the plant and offer our customers the option of returning their used reusable crockery for the purpose of directing it to material recycling in our in-house process," said Dr. von der Emde, CEO at Ornamin-Kunststoffwerke in Minden.

The material selection is equally important. For example, TPE is free of PVC and plasticizers and have a very low share of emitable substances. They are recyclable and food compliant. Furthermore, the material displays good flow properties and demolding characteristics in injection-molding tools. And another key criterion is the individual coloration properties of the TPE material.

Whether food storage boxes, reusable coffee-to-go cups or plates with non-slip elements, household and kitchen items are increasingly being manufactured from plastic. There are various types of plastic used, e.g. melamine, silicone, PVC or thermoplastic elastomers, depending on the respective designated use. Accordingly, some are suitable for freezing while others are resistant to high temperatures. Some are dishwasher-safe, others are recyclable. Some are suitable for use in the microwave while others are resistant to scratches and discoloration.

Apart from these differences, other requirements also need considering and these demands are made on all items coming into contact with food. And this is where it gets tricky for some materials.