During the recent plate2planet Live! summit Delphis Eco’s Mark Jankovich addressed the room and presented our example of 100% Post Consumer Recycled plastic packaging. A standard in the food and cleaning industries that should now be expected.
This is our story:
Given the nature of chemicals it’s near impossible to package them in anything other than plastic, but Delphis Eco has championed 100% recycled packaging from our inception.
In 2009 Delphis Eco’s CEO Mark Jankovich set up shop in Battersea and immediately knocked on the door at the Wandsworth Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) run by Cory Environmental Ltd. Mark asked if he could buy the waste plastic that was being collected on his doorstep, to create packaging with the recycled plastic or PCR (Post Consumer Recycled). The answer was an outright no.
Mark Jankovich recalled the ‘light bulb moment’, when he realised no wasn’t good enough. It was during a visit to Zimbabwe that Mark incidentally stumbled across locals collecting abandoned plastic rubbish, melting it, re-blowing it and selling it for use as new packaging. It was astounding that in 2009 an impoverished country, at 2 million % inflation was demonstrating more initiative than various councils in London.
Mark returned to the UK more determined than ever and sat down with the Environment Minister for Wandsworth Council in 2010. The response was that it wasn’t possible to buy used plastic and re-blow it to make new packaging. Waste collection contracts were already in place and could not be disrupted so Mark was told.
According to the Ellen McArthur foundation we are only currently recycling 3-7% of all plastic waste. Furthermore, all plastic ever created and not incinerated, is still sitting on the Earth with a degradation rate of 450 years.
No one at Delphis Eco could understand why everyone seemed to be burying their head in the sand and ignoring the problem. In 2014 Mark paid to join the Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA) to try and get an actual answer to his packaging problem. Mark later stood up at an FPA conference in front of waste collectors, plastic manufacturers and food packaging industry experts and asked them why they couldn’t work together to create 100% PCR packaging that he was willing to pay for.
As he addressed the audience, Mark said, ‘is it not clear that I am the natural buyer of plastic. I want to buy plastic that can be collected and recycled over and over, irradiating single-use plastic. Why is this not possible? Why can’t we all work together to make this happen?’
In 2015 off the back of the FPA conference the previous year, Mark spoke to plastic bottle blowers, but was told they couldn’t make 100% PCR at the required food-grade standard. Mark did not give up and in 2016 one of the UK’s leading waste collectors approached Delphis Eco saying they thought 100% UK PCR was possible.
In January 2017 the waste collectors started delivering UK HDPE PCR granules from a factory in Dagenham. The HDPE plastic was successful at 30% recycled content and then again at 50%, but Mark insisted on 100% – telling them not to call him back until they got there. The progress was slow and there was little success – the bottles kept bursting.
Despite the seemingly impossible Mark went back to the chemists and asked them to keep formulating PCR compounds and eventually 100% PCR was successfully blown and at food-grade quality. The potential is huge, meaning that all food packaging could now, and should now start being produced with PCR plastic.
During Recycling Week, in September 2017 the PCR bottles were rolled out across our 750ml range. We have committed to using 100% PCR across our entire range, which we believe is a UK first. Ss
It’s hard to believe that a small Wandsworth business are eight years ahead of brand heavyweights Pepsi, Coca-Cola, M&S and Unilever in the innovation and implementation of 100% food-grade PCR packaging, but we continue to lead the way towards a circular economy.