Gifts Today magazine

Sweet idea from Calico Cottage

BBC’s Blue Planet inspires sweet company to phase out single-use plastic

The confectionery manufacturer which supplies some of the UK’s top tourist attractions is phasing out single-use packaging for a compostable alternative – a first in its industry.

From today, Calico Cottage, based near Ely, Cambridgeshire, will become the first in the industry to offer all business customers the option of stocking its impulse bags of sweets in compostable, transparent packaging which breaks down and disappears in soil in just six to 12 weeks, under the brand of Cambridge Confectionery Company.

Regular biodegradable bags can take decades to degrade and millions are sold every year in the UK alone, according to Calico Cottage, who have been working closely with Futamura Group and Direct Packaging Ltd (DPL) of Rochford, Essex to launch this new eco range.

Managing director Nigel Baker said: 'The move away from single use plastic is an issue that we started to address internally at Calico Cottage in 2017. We are hugely passionate about this and have been working long hours to come up with a solution using a range of technologies and I am proud that we have brought it to market so quickly.

'Along with DPL and some key customers, we are launching a home compostable bag with compostable labels and adhesives, which will also biodegrade in sea water. We decided to take this step pro-actively, with a significant investment rather than wait for our customers to ask for it.'

He added: 'The term "biodegradable" is widely used and often misunderstood. Millions of these packs are sold every year in the UK and often leave harmful residues behind in the soil as well.'

Launch partners are growing by the day but include an impressive range of locations, which will be phasing the new packaging on to shelves in coming weeks, including: Zoological Society of London; Chester Zoo; Twycross Zoo; Dudley Zoological Gardens; The British Museum; Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh; Paignton Zoo; Newquay Zoo; Living Coasts and Rhug Estate. Kew Gardens and Blue Diamond Garden Centres are also set to join shortly.

The company's move to change its packaging comes after prime minister Theresa May announced plans to eliminate single-use plastics within 25 years, but Calico Cottage decided to act much sooner, inspired by watching the BBC’s Blue Planet programme, presented by Sir David Attenborough.

Nigel Baker said: 'The footage about how much plastic ends up in the oceans really affected us all here and spurred us to do something about our packaging immediately. We are pleased to be leading the way in our industry and hope other retailers join us in this revolution.

'It’s a first step for us and can eliminate around 80% of our single use plastic packaging, but we won’t be satisfied until this number hits 100%, which is a huge challenge.'

Operations manager Jon Millard added: 'We are already working on the second phase of the launch which is planned for late April and May and the diary is getting full. This move could really be a game-changer, so we are delighted that retailers across the country are so keen to join us.'

The new bags are certified to EN13432 and manufactured from sustainably sourced trees, which are converted into pulp and then a liquid cellulose solution. This is then made into a transparent solid film, which is coated and cut to size.

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