Richard Hands, previously environment manager for Tetra Pak UK & Ireland and chair of ACE UK, is now taking up the first fulltime role within the packaging group, a post the beverage carton alliance said will help provide a push for its environmental initiatives.
Speaking to FoodProductionDaily.com this morning, Hands said that ACE UK has already gone “way beyond its producer responsibility obligations in the substantial funding it has provided to ensure that nearly 90 per cent of local authorities provide recycling facilities for cartons.”
This “heavy investment to increase recycling” has resulted, he continued, in 87 per cent of the UK now having access to carton collection. Hands said that he is intending, as CEO, to help bring carton recycling in the UK to “another level”.
He stressed that an eventual shift from the ACE-funded bring bank system to the mixed material kerbside method would ultimately allow 100 per cent collection of every carton that is produced in the UK and this is will be fundamental to the alliance’s strategy over the coming year.
“Kerbside makes it easier for the consumer to depose of beverage and food cartons and this is where the larger volumes are. A blue bin in every household’s yard would automatically increase carton collection capacity,” argues Hands.
Currently, 30 per cent of UK households benefit from collection at the kerbside.
ACE is working closely with stakeholders to increase kerbside collection but he said that: “The alliance does not control the speed of rollout. We rely on local authorities or their waste contractors to deliver on that. We will continue to fund carton recycling schemes, but essentially, our role is about encouraging best practice.”
Hands said that the new government’s policies on packaging waste and recycling is still in the formation stages and “remains to be seen” and he added that the carton alliance will continue to determine “how best we can engage with all the stakeholders and contribute to the debate on recycling matters.”
However, he said that the carton packaging sector welcomes the new government's emphasis on reducing the regulatory burden on business. "We can work with voluntary regulations," added Hands.
He said that the carton alliance will also continue to incentivize material recycling and sorting plants in the UK to ensure that they see the value in accepting carton materials into their facilities.
“The board of the alliance meets tomorrow to pin down exact targets and strategies but our core focus will be recycling, carbon management and sustainable sourcing. Water usage - set to be a major challenge ahead for the whole food and drink industry - will also be on our radar,” said the CEO, who reported that ACE will also be intent on pressing home the benefits of food packaging in terms of reducing food waste.
ACE UK members include beverage carton producers for the UK market, specifically Tetra Pak, SIG Combibloc and Elopak. About 98 per cent of the paperboard used by the members is produced by Stora Enso in Skoghall in Sweden and Imatra in Finland, and by Korsnas in Gavle, also in Sweden.