This year the UK celebrated the 10th annual Recycle Week, with people all over the country focusing on the theme of 'Recycling - at home and away'. A spotlight was shone on metals, plastics, textiles and food waste in particular.
Further to this, Lord de Mauley (Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) outlined his 'waste vision' for England; for it to be a place where substantially less waste is created in the first place and where the vast majority of what is created is reused or recycled.
Looking back further over the last decade, local authority recycling schemes across the country have collected materials worth £2.4billion, meaning that as a nation we are sending considerably less waste to landfill and making better use of the natural materials that go into the products.
Against this backdrop, it seems recycling, as an issue, is at the forefront of everyone's minds and the recycling of packaging in particular has had a lot of attention recently.
The UK recycled 60.7% and recovered 67% of its packaging waste in 2010. In 1998, these figures were 27% and 30% respectively. This increase is a significant achievement, and as we come to the end of the year, 2013 looks set to deliver even better results.
However, when it comes to packaging, there is still a perception amongst both householders and businesses that more needs to be done.
Revised packaging targets are a key element of the Waste Review in England and demonstrate the commitment to be the "greenest Government ever". Packaging is what people most notice in their bins, and there are a number of things that need to happen if the UK is to keep up with Government targets and stop the industry from slipping behind its European competitors.
There are strong arguments that higher recycling targets on packaging producers would help increase the amount of packaging that is recycled. Whilst consumers focus on recycling end products, packaging manufacturers must play their part and consider resource-saving and ease of recycling at the design stage.
At Nampak Plastics, we take our role as the UK's leading producer of plastic milk bottles very seriously.
Following a four-year design process, our innovations and engineering team has created the multi-award-winning Infini bottle which is the lightest and strongest plastic milk bottle on the market.
Because of Infini's unique design - with the handle on the corner - we have been able to move up to 30% recycled high density polyethylene - double that of any other plastic milk bottle. This move, combined with others, will result in 35,000 tonnes of material saved every year and will also herald significant carbon savings across the industry.
However, the need for packaging companies to continue to achieve new heights in sustainability and recyclability will only increase from now, into the future. Consumers, and the industry, will demand lighter weight and more environmentally friendly solutions.
For those reasons, we at Nampak will continue to push boundaries as far as we can and we'd urge our colleagues in the sector to do exactly the same.