It is important not to overlook the crucial role plastic packaging plays in our economy, and in our daily lives. From keeping food fresh and fragile products safe, to offering a sterile barrier system in healthcare, plastic packaging is ubiquitous for good reason and life without plastic would be unthinkable in our modern world.
One company at the forefront of innovation, design and sustainability of plastic packaging is TEQ, a leading manufacturer of thermoformed packaging for some of the world’s biggest companies. The company creates packaging products for a range of different markets, including consumer goods, component handling and healthcare, all developed at its state-of-the-art production facilities based in the UK and Poland. Both sites have certified cleanroom facilities used to produce products for the medical sector.
It is the company’s focus on innovation that allows it to navigate a fast-changing packaging landscape. “Innovative design underpins every TEQ project,” says Anne-Sophie Belamine, the company’s European Sales Director. “We’re focused on finding ways to improve or reduce packaging so that customers get the best designed, and most practical solution.”
The vast majority of TEQ’s thermoformed products contain between 60-80% recycled content from post-consumer material, the waste generated by households or by companies which can no longer be used for its intended purpose. This is well above the threshold demanded by emerging legislation.
Using advanced 3D computer-aided design (CAD) systems, it can develop precise visuals for quick and accurate sign-off from clients – reducing waste and creating efficiencies throughout production. “The business has built up a reputation for developing custom packaging solutions to overcome difficulties that arise from complex manufacturing processes,” adds Belamine.
— Taking care of medical packaging waste —
This focus on problem-solving led to the creation of a new TEQ product, designed to solve the problem of waste in healthcare.
According to the non-profit Practice Greenhealth, hospitals and medical centres in the US produce more than five million tonnes of waste a year, with plastic packaging accounting for the majority.
Sterile barrier systems (SBS), the plastic packaging that offers a microbial barrier, usually consist of more than one material. Busy hospital staff don’t have the time to separate lids and trays, so very little of the packaging is recycled.
So, TEQ set to work in creating TEQethylene, viable solution for SBS. It worked with its suppliers to develop a better High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) blend/tray that would be more widely recycled. Using Tyvek, a commonly used breathable HDPE thermoplastic lidding, the firm created a mono-polymer SBS, with no need to dissemble the lid from the tray for recycling.
— Working with customers —
Beyond its product line, “TEQ is committed to incorporating sustainability into our overall business strategy and helping customers achieve their environmental goals,” says Belamine. “Sustainability underpins our thinking in everything that we do – both the products that we design and manufacture, and the way we run our operations.”
Since the business was established more than 40 years ago, it has continued to develop products with an environmental conscience: products of minimal size and weight, but which deliver superb quality. “We collaborate with our customers on reduce, reuse and recycle initiatives. We remove unnecessary layers of packaging, as well as the amount of material used.”
Customers can choose products that are up to 100% recycled, and all of the materials used are produced from a recycled grade plastic, or are fully reusable or recyclable, with the vast majority of products manufactured containing recycled plastics.
For those wanting a plastic alternative, TEQ also offers Fibrepak, a natural and sustainable packaging solution using thermoformed wet pulp. The material is made from locally sourced FSC Chain of Custody certified materials, meaning the pulp used has come from sustainably managed forests.
Fibrepak is high quality, thin-walled and smooth sided, meaning that packaged products do not get scratched. And it can be recycled in traditional waste streams along with paper, compostable and biodegradable materials. “We continue to invest in the latest technology for both our plastic products and Fibrepak with significant investment in new Kiefel thermoforming machines made in the last twelve months.
“Regardless of material selection we remain fully committed to delivering innovative packaging solutions, designed and manufactured with sustainability at the forefront of our thinking,” says Belamine.
While legislation and policy designed to tackle the plastics issue finds its feet, TEQ will continue to lead in bringing about quality, sustainable packaging options for the emerging circular economy, working with customers to create innovative new products that are fit for purpose in the 21st century.
For more information go to http://www.teqnow.eu/