Axion: ‘Momentum is building on the issue of how we manage packaging waste’

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

Axion launches ‘Design for Recycling’ service. Picture: Axion.
Axion launches ‘Design for Recycling’ service. Picture: Axion.

Related tags Recycling China

Axion has launched a ‘Design for Recycling’ service in response to the issue of how the industry manages packaging waste.

The service is aimed at anyone in the plastics packaging supply chain including; packaging designers, food manufacturers, brand owners and retailers who have an interest in increasing the recyclability of plastic packaging. 

Circular Economy

The spotlight is very much on plastics. Momentum is building as the issue of how we manage packaging waste is climbing up the agendas of every nation​,” said Richard McKinlay, head of Circular Economy, Axion.

In future, there’s going to be a push on producer responsibility that will require packaging to be collected and recycled​.

Brand owners taking action now on their packaging designs can future-proof them against forthcoming issues. This would help to gain a competitive edge in a more environmentally-focussed consumer environment​.” 

Axion’s ‘Design for Recycling’ service pays attention to packaging that has been optimised for end of life, while maintaining its primary function of product protection. 

The service also supports those working with industry initiatives to increase the recycling of plastics and develop end markets for recycled plastics.

National Sword initiative​ 

  • There will likely be additional changes to China’s imports of recyclable materials in the near future.
  • China’s National Sword anti-smuggling plans, under the Chinese government’s “National Sword 2017” clampdown, saw close inspection of imported recyclable materials from March-November 2017.
  • These materials included cardboard and mixed paper, recyclable plastics, low grade metal scrap, and many other materials.
  • China’s purpose for this campaign was an attempt to clean up the type of waste entering their country.
  • With China being by far the largest importer of these types of materials, it has created a significant impact on material flow as well as concern for recyclers worldwide.
  • There is now talk of these actions being expanded.
  • Rumors are now stating that within the next 5-10 years China may ban the import of certain recyclables completely. 

These include Courtauld 2025, the Plastics Industry Recycling Action Plan (PIRAP), the European Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD) and the Plastics Economy Project. 


According to WRAP, nearly 70% of the UK’s plastic packaging waste that was collected for recycling in 2016 was exported, mainly to the Far East.

With the National Sword initiative likely to be expanded in China, this level of export is unsustainable.

Axion’s service is based on practical experience of the resource recovery sector, including the design, build and operation of its own plastics recycling facilities.

During the packaging design process, advice will be given on material choices and product design aspects that affect the recyclability and value at end of life. 

Our analysis helps clients to understand how their packaging  is treated at end of life and how this is impacted by the design of the pack​,” said McKinlay.

End of life recycling

By identifying the characteristics that reduce the material’s value at end of life, we can suggest alternative choices that can be more readily recycled​.”

He added, increased recycling of plastic packaging waste in the UK would reduce the risk of it getting into the world’s oceans. But, that means the packaging has to be ‘desirable for recyclers’ and this is where Axion can add value to the packaging design process. 

Axion develops and operates resource recovery and processing for recycling waste materials. It works with clients, from Government agencies and local authorities to companies in diverse commercial sectors. 

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