BOPE And Circular Packaging

BOPE film is a significant building block in our quest to streamline raw material groups for ease of recycling, creating value from our recyclable waste, reusing and re-purposing raw materials at every opportunity. 

After 20 years in the industry here and around the world I finally have a material that I am proud to show my kids and know that it’s helping support the circular thinking our industry is and must embrace

BOPE is a replacement for traditional forms of PE plastic packaging and perhaps the last PE plastic we will need for food packaging. Isn’t that an idea! 

The amount of plastic on the planet recently surpassed the mass of all living organisms on the planet. In a short space of time from the arrival of the material to this headline and indictment of short-term thinking we have found a hugely valuable material but failed to think beyond that. 

I see the value of these materials and I also see we have no license to use them without changing how we make and re-use them.

There are two clear benefits to materials like BOPE film and inclusion of BOPE in clever mono structure packaging solutions the leading brands owners all over the world are starting to use.


We can make less and re-use what we make

The specifications of the TF-BOPE means less is needed (REDUCE) in the 1st instance, we can reclaim it (RECYLE) and re-purpose back into packaging or other applications especially if waste streams are ‘clean’ and narrow in focus. 

Recycling technologies and infrastructure are a ‘mixed bag’ around the world,  but alignment through packaging covenant initiatives such as The UK Plastic Pact, APCO  means change is happening at a pace to develop truly circular economies and the infrastructure to support.

Of the roughly 400M tons of plastics produced annually just over 40% is used in packaging (160m tons) if through downgauging alone we could save 20% in weight that would be 32m tons PA, when combined with other initiatives to remove unnecessary packaging, redevelop packaging, streamline packaging materials to increase recycle capture rates we can make a difference.  We can’t remove plastics from the ecosystem we have created quickly enough without viable and sustainable alternatives being present, but we can manage more sustainably out current inputs, we have all the knowledge and equipment to do this now.


Secondly, we reduce food waste through the better products that do we make (and re-make!) 

Food waste contributes 8% of greenhouse gases today. It’s an outrageous state of affairs. In the EU food waste is predicted to reach 200 million tons by 2050 with an accompanying need to increase food production by 50% to accommodate this and population growth.

Sustainable ‘smart’ packaging made with materials like BOPE in isolation or combination with other substrates (preferably technical PE) promotes and supports food preservation, protection, portion control and food safety, all primary functions of packaging! Flexible packaging, when done responsibly promotes good nutrition and provides guidance to consumers about responsible disposable of materials. Initiatives like ARL and OPRL further support this necessary education. But most importantly maximises the time we have to consume food to limit food waste and absolute imperative.

It’s a myth today that we are recycling what is recyclable. Use of inappropriate materials in packaging, legacy contracts and under investment in modern capital equipment, lack of regulation not making us ‘do it better’ are the excuse we hide behind, why change if we don’t have to?

Many countries are now restricting or banning the use of materials that have no obvious recycling path either globally or in local markets, change is happening, and the disruption is positive!  Many of legacy materials can often be easily substituted with significant improvement in technical performance, product shelf life, recycling performance and reduction in packaging weight!

When we do get the packaging right, collection networks don’t always support recycling soft plastics and materials go to landfill when they should not.  We can help support the recycling infrastructure; simple materials can help us. If we have a limited number of material groups to recycle, the recycling infrastructure can better support the collection and processing, we will capture more, recycle more and re-use more, other industries are emerging and will further develop to utilise these valuable re-usable resources.

We need to break the cycle of unsustainable packaging because we have the ability to do this now, I don’t want to live in a world where we have more plastic on the planet by mass than living organisms – and my children can no longer live there.

BOPE is not the end game for sustainable packaging, we will find new answers as every generation does but it’s the best material for this decade and much of next.

Reach out – I’d be happy to talk to you directly about it and how you can create sustainable products for your customers – I’ve even been making some myself – you have to try my coffee.

— Edward