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Milk box = beverage paper-based composite packaging? Environmental protection account "difficult to calculate"!
Time: 2020-7-31 16:42:31 Source:绿凯思科GETRECYCLING Author:GET营销中心 Hits:47

With the development of garbage classification in Shanghai, Beijing and other places, "what kind of garbage is this" has become a daily soul torture. There are still many people who can't distinguish milk boxes, which are common garbage in our daily life.



Milk box, also known as "paper-based composite packaging", is made of plastic film, aluminum foil and other materials on the paper substrate. This kind of composite packaging material can well isolate water, air and light, prolong the shelf life of milk, drinks and other products, but it also has obvious environmental defects. Although drinking milk is a daily routine for many people, little is known about the recycling of milk cartons. This not only reflects the lack of corporate social responsibility, the lack of consumer awareness of recycling, but also reflects our long-term problems in milk box recycling management.



China is a big country of milk production and consumption, and the national milk production will be 32.124 million tons in 2019. It is estimated that the total sales volume of paper-based composite packaging in China is as high as 60 billion. However, the rapid growth of consumer demand is in sharp contrast to the "dismal" recycling. In China, the recovery rate of paper-based composite packaging is less than 20%. There are only a few enterprises specialized in recycling paper-based composite packaging in China. Each enterprise has an annual recycling capacity of 20000-30000 tons, but it still faces the dilemma of insufficient incoming materials due to poor recycling. Non recyclable packaging not only brings huge waste of resources, but also causes environmental and health impacts by incineration or landfill.



Why is it difficult to recycle milk boxes? We should start from the lack of packaging design and corporate social responsibility.


Unlike ordinary paper boxes, the design and process of paper-based composite packaging are very complex. About 75% of the package weight is paper, 20% plastic film and 5% aluminum foil. If it is to be recycled, the pulp, plastic film and aluminum foil must be separated by special technical equipment. Although each material has a high recycling value, this kind of composite design is not conducive to recycling.



Due to the complexity of material technology, patent and other barriers, the paper-based composite packaging industry has a high entry threshold, which has been monopolized by Tetra Pak and other international companies for a long time. In 2019, Tetra Pak will sell more than 190 billion products worldwide, with sales revenue of 11.5 billion euro. Tetra Pak is also the biggest player in the Chinese market. Although under the pressure of anti-monopoly and the competition of domestic and foreign competitors, Tetra Pak's domestic market share has dropped from about 95% around 2003 to about 60%, but it is still a giant hidden behind the milk and beverage industry. Besides Tetra Pak, Kangmei packaging, FanMei packaging, new Jufeng and so on have carved up China's remaining market share. However, the packaging giants who have made a lot of money have not taken on the responsibility of recycling. According to the data, only 26% of Tetra Pak's packaging was recycled in the world in 2019.


In addition to the design and industry problems, the difficulty of recycling is also related to the long-standing public enthusiasm for recycling and the lack of relevant management system. Since the implementation of waste classification in China, the recycling problem of paper-based composite packaging has not been widely concerned, and ordinary consumers have not formed recycling awareness. Because the recycling industry has not yet formed a scale, the recycling chain is not perfect, and many places even can not find a proper recycling channel.


On the one hand, there are 100% recyclable materials, and on the other is the dismal recycling reality. Faced with the dilemma, in 2016, China introduced the extended producer responsibility (EPR), and paper-based composite packaging has become one of the four product categories to promote the extended producer responsibility system. EPR system was put forward in Sweden in the 1980s, and has been widely used in many countries and regions in the world. It is one of the effective waste management policies recognized internationally.



In June 2020, the national development and Reform Commission (NDRC) solicited public opinions on the implementation measures for the extended producer responsibility system of beverage paper-based composite packaging (Trial Implementation) (hereinafter referred to as the measures), and continued to promote the implementation of EPR in China. The "measures" put forward that the paper-based composite packaging production (import) enterprises should undertake the extended main responsibility of producers such as recycling of waste packaging, information disclosure, ecological design, etc. By 2025, the resource utilization rate should reach 40%, and the comprehensive recovery rate should reach 60%. At the same time, city governments are required to support the classified delivery or centralized sorting of beverage paper-based composite packaging, and remove the barriers of classified delivery facilities into communities, stations and public places.


Related links: policy suggestions | paper based composite packaging is a major institutional breakthrough to clarify the responsibilities of manufacturers and improve the recovery rate


One of the biggest challenges for the implementation of the measures lies in the pressure of cost recovery. Under EPR system, enterprises need to bear the corresponding responsibility and cost of recovery. However, this environmental protection account is entirely on the head of packaging production enterprises, enterprises will also feel the difficulty, and may even pass on the cost to consumers.


On the way to promote the recycling of packaging, there are some foreign practices and experiences that we can learn from. Even in countries where consumers have a high awareness of recycling, legislation is needed to ensure that these packages enter recycling channels rather than incineration or landfill. The EU is in the forefront of the world in the management of packaging waste. The directive on packaging and packaging waste (94 / 62 / EC) issued in 1994 clearly requires all countries to increase the recovery rate of packaging to at least 50% within five years after the implementation of the legislation, which puts forward more and more strict requirements on the management of packaging waste. In addition, many countries or regions, including the European Union, Canada and the United States, have implemented the legislation of packaging deposit system, which can effectively encourage consumers to participate in the recycling of packaging waste.



Enterprises can do a lot. In the United States, the first step to improve the recovery rate is to clearly print the word "recyclable" on the packaging to help confused consumers get rid of the myth of "non recyclable". In addition, recycling enterprises can also participate in the construction of recycling facilities to expand the recycling channels available to consumers. Tetra Pak Japan website provides consumers with a detailed list of recycling points. If there is no recycling point near the place of residence, consumers can make an appointment for the door-to-door service of recyclers. For consumers, they should not only actively cooperate with recycling work, but also change their understanding of recycled materials, accept and use recycled materials that meet the standards.



The earth's resources are always limited. When the government, enterprises and consumers cooperate to promote the production and consumption mode from linear economy to circular economy, the road of sustainable development can be truly realized.

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