Andrew Large, CPI Director General responds to Green Alliance ‘Plastic promises’ report

9 January 2020

Andrew Large, Director General at the Confederation of Paper Industries, says:

We’ve read ‘Plastic promises: What the grocery sector is really doing about packaging’ by the Green Alliance with great interest. The concerns which shoppers shared over plastic packaging mirror our own research.

However, in our view the report oversimplifies the impact of paper-based packaging. It doesn’t take into account a number of important factors.

Paper-based packaging materials are made from the 100% renewable resource, trees, which are net positive contributors to the environment[1]. By contrast, the vast majority of plastic is created by extracting oil from the Earth. Oil is a finite resource that has been locked away for millions of years and cannot be replaced.

Paper also has a much higher recycling rate than plastic – 86% of all recoverable paper in 2018 was recycled[2], compared with a recycling rate of just 46% for plastic[3].

In addition, unlike plastic, paper is fully biodegradable.

Paper manufacturers have successfully reduced the carbon emissions associated with paper making by 66% since 1990[4], whilst advances in transportation are likely to continue to reduce this footprint even further.

[1] Virgin paper fibres come from sustainably managed forests that naturally contribute to the capture and storage of atmospheric carbon. Source: Economic Value Report, CPI

[2] CPI

[3] Environment Agency 2018

[4] Economic Value Report, CPI

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