Reduce - recycle - renew
The ambition to reduce plastic consumption must be aligned with demands for high food safety and optimal product protection when choosing plastic materials for packaging.
Today, the vast majority of Royal Greenland’s retail range is packed in plastic bags. These bags are made of one or more layers of plastic with different properties, depending on what type of product the bag is designed for. For many products, a high barrier quality is essential to avoid air from seeping into the bag, whereas other bags must be resistant to sharp objects to avoid cuts during the packing process of frozen products. For smoked fish a 100% impermeable layer is essential to avoid the fish from becoming rancid.
In order for plastic to be suitable for recycling it can usually only consist of one type of plastic or so-called polymer. In some cases, it is necessary to increase the thickness of the plastic bag to be able to recycle when for instance switching from PE/PET to PE, which can seem contradictory to an overall ambition of decreasing the plastic consumption.
In the chart below it is illustrated how different polymers and combinations of these perform in terms of recyclability. As stated in the chart, it is a determining factor that the polymers are compatible. Non-compatible polymers are not separable in the recycling process and are therefore only fit to include in a combustion process.
For Royal Greenland, the first step towards reducing plastic consumption within retail is to make sure all retail packaging are made from compatible polymers. With this choice, we ensure that our retail packaging is as recyclable as possible. In a few cases, this decision may cause a rise in plastic consumption as transitioning to a more recyclable material will cause an increase in the plastic thickness in order to secure optimal protection of the product.
Pure materials such as PET, PP and PE have the highest degree of recyclability whereas materials listed in the yellow area can typically be recycled as plastic tubs, garden pots etc.
A long-term alternative to the fossil-based polymers in the chart is a shift to bioplastic packaging made from renewable resources such as sugar beets, corn or straw. Bioplastic is today mainly used in plastic bags and packaging that are not in direct contact with food.