July 2015 – It has magnetic attraction for many kids and also arouses great interest from adult consumers: multi-coloured packaging. However, while is affords increased security for drug manufacturers, recycling companies and parents unleash a storm of protest.
Recycling of coloured PET packaging is complicated
“Plastics Recyclers Europe” sounds the alarm and numerous plastics recyclers agree with the association’s warning: the current trend towards multi-coloured PET packaging makes recycling substantially more difficult. The effort involved in separating coloured from transparent plastics to then filter out the coloured portions and finally dye them dark, is associated with higher expenditure and incalculable extra cost in the long run, they say. If demand continues unabated this could entail an increase in coloured plastic packaging amounting to 300,000 tons across Europe. These multi-layer PET trays and bottles are produced for household detergents and care products all the way down to food and most of them are incinerated after use rather than recycled into new raw materials. Experts say that PP and PS plastics could also be manufactured in any desired colour combinations without problems but could later be re-used.
“Foodwatch” also criticises colour packaging – but for another reason. It accuses food producers of using images of popular comic heroes on chocolate and the like to tempt children to consume unhealthy foodstuffs. Be it Disney figures or Star Wars heroes, or Maya the Bee: if little ones could decide foods and beverages like this would end up in many shopping carts. According to the results of the non-profit consumer protection organisation, however, the majority of the 34 studied products contain more sugar, fat or salt than recommended by the World Health Organisation “WHO” for a balanced diet. Due to the rising number of obese kids in Germany, parents should therefore forego buying such products, the experts recommend.
Colours for counterfeit protection
There are alternatives: individually composed colour codes on pharmaceutical packaging assist unambiguous identification of the contents. While datamatrix codes alone are not 100% counterfeit-proof, the labelling system manufacturer “3S Simons Security Systems” says that a combination with coloured micro markings could bring ultimate security.
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