The plastic priorities in 2024 for the bakery logistics industry

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

While the intention behind the plastic packaging tax is commendable, what are the real challenges in play? Pic: GettyImages/boonchai wedmakawant
While the intention behind the plastic packaging tax is commendable, what are the real challenges in play? Pic: GettyImages/boonchai wedmakawant

Related tags Bakers basco Plastic Packaging Tax Uk government Plastic packaging

Bakers Basco’s general manager Paul Empson offers his take on the current and future focus for businesses operating in the food logistics industry in 2024.

Like inflation, 2023 has been a year of ups and downs, but there are encouraging signs pointing towards recovery. However, Paul Empson, BM of Bakers Basco, believes the fallout from additional costs means it’s going to be a long haul.

“As predicted around this time last year, 2023 has been a year of high costs for everyone – suppliers, brands, retailers and shoppers – all of whom are feeling the pinch from the supply chain to the supermarket shelf,”​ said Empson.

“That has been a defining challenge this year.

“But now, as we face one of the biggest challenges on the horizon following the introduction of the Government’s Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT), I strongly believe that instead of adding to the challenge with more costs for businesses, the focus should instead be on change.”

The plastic debate

Plastic waste Romolo Tavani
Pic: GettyImages.Ramolo Tavani

Introduced in April 2022 and upped in the Autumn Statement, the plastic packaging tax now comes in at a whopping £217.85 per tonne for plastic packaging containing less than 30% recycled content.

Yes, it  may underscore the UK government’s commitment to combat plastic waste, but does it really consider the impact to businesses?

Empson believes there is a real challenge at play here in that the supply chain is struggling to provide the required amount of recycled plastic.

“It’s left many businesses reliant on plastic packaging caught between a rock and a hard place – compelled to incorporate more recycled content into their products, yet unable to access sufficient quantities of recycled material,”​ he said.

“Without a steady supply of recycled materials, there could be far reaching implications for the various sectors that rely on plastic packaging due to manufacturing production delays.”

He added Bakers Basco sees this for its Omega bread basket, which is “a prime example of a reusable transit packaging designed for a circular economy.”

However, even with the right intentions, there are challenges in securing the necessary 30% recycled plastic to keep production lines running smoothly.

“It not only affects operations but has a reverberating impact across the baking industry and beyond,”​ said Empson.

“As a nation, we need to be producing more plastic so businesses can use it to produce equipment that not only meets the demands set out by the PPT and create their own circular economy.

“For this initiative to truly succeed, it’s imperative for the government to address the challenges faced by businesses transitioning to recycled content, as well as to consider the accountability for imported recycled material and its associated carbon emissions. Whereas, allocating a portion of the tax revenue to bolster domestic recycling infrastructure and innovation could pave the way for a more sustainable future.”

Challenge for change

Bread in plastic bags fongfong2
Pic: GettyImages/fongfong2

The challenge going into 2024 will be to keep up – and at pace.

“As a business, Bakers Basco is now much more streamlined that it ever has been,”​ reported Empson.

“We’ve made substantial changes to our own strategy to increase efficiencies and reduce costs. And we’ve hugely stepped up our awareness efforts to play our part in getting towards a circular economy.”

The company is proud of its reusable plastic packaging solution, which it has been using for many years. It is also satisfied that its national poster campaign – which was strategically targeted businesses outside of the baking, food, logistics and recycling industries – reached the festival organisers, convenience stores, local councils and market traders.

“We’re proud of the fact that campaign was nominated for an award to recognise our efforts to build a circular future.

“The challenge now is to carry on this work and for the industry to be more collaborative, be more vocal on the longer-term issues – especially on the legislation they might bring with them – and play a part in changing the circular economy narrative to produce more recycled plastic.

“As we move forward, it's essential to remember that while legislation lays the foundation, strategic actions are what build a resilient and circular plastics industry,”​ said Empson.

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