EARTHWEDGE: The environmentally-friendly solution to sandwich packs problem


The BBC One programme – back for its second series and presented by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Anita Rani – told how 6 million PE-coated packs and laminated board packs flood the nation’s waste bins and recycling centres every single.

And they have one major drawback – in the vast majority of cases they cannot be recycled – despite labelling suggesting they can – as you just cannot separate the plastics from the cardboard, and the packs just end up in landfill.

Hugh met with Simon Ellin, CEO of the UK Recycling Association, who told the programme: “We have several problems, we have got the plastic window on the outside, we have got the plastic liner on the inside – so even if you remove the front layer the inside plastic layer is so tightly glued and bonded to the paper that you are never going to be able to remove it so to me that renders it unrecyclable.”

Traditional sandwich packs are labelled as ‘Widely Recycled’ and the show focused the ambiguity surrounding that statement and what the logo means. Simon Ellin told the cameras: “The criteria to use that label is if 75% of local authorities in the country actually collect them for recycling, it doesn’t mean they are recycled. Technically you might possibly be able to recycle it, in reality you are not – so it is wholly misleading.”

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall added: “It isn’t just misleading, it’s not true.”

Our new eco-friendly sandwich packs – branded as Earthwedge – have been developed using a combination of coated boards and coated papers. This means that the whole pack can be recycled as part of the paper stream.

Simon Balderson, Sirane MD, said: “Our Earth Packaging range now includes many ways to replace plastics effectively in the supply chain. Many plastics can be replaced, and new materials and technologies are coming on board all the time.

“Earthwedge is a great example of somewhere it is possible to remove the plastic entirely whilst allowing the product to still be functional and fit for purpose. And end of life is important – these packs will be able to go in with the paper recycling.

“We’ve put them through extensive trials, to make sure they offer the necessary ease of use as well as the needed shelf-life. Coated boards are used for a reason – commercially the sandwiches need a certain shelf-life to make the supply chain work – but we can now offer a viable alternative which is environmentally friendly.”

They are suitable for heat-sealing as well as in-store assembly and can be supplied fully printed/branded or plain, as required, in standard and custom sizes.

The whole pack can be easily recycled in the paper stream – there’s no need to try to separate layers, or remove films from the pack, a system which makes some packs on the market technically recyclable but practically impossible to do so.

Part of the War on Plastic programme focused on supposed ‘easier to peel’ packs -designed to make it easier to separate the plastic and cards – but as demonstrated on the programme, this is largely impossible and still very difficult to do.

Having observed people trying to separate them, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall told the cameras: “Most end up in a messy pile of unrecyclable plastic and card.”

Sirane completed the acquisition of a UK-based manufacturer of board products earlier this year – and now has ambitious growth plans for the new site, as well as plans to enhance the Earth Packaging range, by combining technologies.

The eco-friendly and plastic-free sandwich skillet ‘Earthwedge’ is one of the developments which the acquisition will allow Sirane to manufacture.

“The result is a sandwich pack, with a window, which gives the required barrier, which will help remove a lot of unnecessary plastic from supermarket shelves,” said Simon Balderson, “it ticks every box going, and we anticipate strong interest.”

“This will be the first of many innovative new products which combine existing Sirane technology with the board-processing operations at Olympic. But there will be more…. we’re a development company, always looking at new ideas.”

Sirane is an innovative packaging development-to-manufacture company, with expertise in absorbency and material science. Specialisms include board, bags and pouches, absorbent products, shelf-life extension and dual-ovenable products.

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