A quiet revolution has been happening in the world of packaging that is nothing less than a game changer.

Somerset -based Sharpak Bridgwater a subsidiary of European packaging provider Groupe GUILLIN, has been working with Bantam Materials UK, of Richmond, on the development and marketing of a brand new system which will alter the face of mass-market food packaging forever.
It’s called Certified Prevented Ocean Plastic and it offers complete traceability, and documents a complete chain of custody to give brand owners and customers the ability to clearly track the materials in their products back to specific coastal communities in at risk areas.
This allows the plastics to be properly recycled and gives impetus to the communities most heavily affected by plastic pollution to be part of the solution rather than the problem.

Ocean-bound plastics originate, in 80-90% of cases, from the developing world. They are generally found within 50km (30mi) distance of an ocean coastline or major waterway that feeds into the ocean.
The problems arise because the country or region of origin lacks waste management infrastructure and collection incentives, the infrastructure is being overwhelmed by population growth or tourism. As we have seen on Blue Planet II, there is a significant risk to wildlife if plastic contaminates their ecosystem.

The new product runs by working with OceanCycle, a dedicated certification provider which goes beyond factory production, directly to bottle aggregation sites in at risk ocean environments to document the complete chain of custody.

Bantam’s Raffi Schieir explained that their Certified Prevented Ocean Plastic product line, when paired with a QR code on the packaging, can give detailed information to the consumer about where the plastic came from and how it was recycled.

In real terms, this could mean that a family living in poverty in one of the target regions could organise collection of coastal plastic waste and receive payment for handing it in. The bigger picture benefits are that they could use this money to buy, say, a flatbed truck and organise waste collection on an even bigger scale, eventually growing to become a factory-level recycler themselves.

Sharpak’s Andrew Fisher has been holding talks with many major UK retailers who are keen to take on the product to increase their own accountability with regards to the plastic they use in their packaging.
“It’s very exciting times,” said Fisher. “There are going to be a series of announcements coming out over the next few weeks. This is a real world, fact based solution to a big problem and all the retailers we have spoken to are very ethical businesses who want to do the right thing.”