Snapshot of 2021 & predicted trends for 2022

Posted in: About Valley Northern 14th December 2021 Snapshot of 2021 & predicted trends for 2022

The global shipment of prescription pharmacy bags are expected to grow at 6.0% CAGR from now until 2031

2021 has seen gaps on supermarket shelves, queues at petrol pumps, and shortages of goods from cars to McDonald’s milkshakes. Global shortages of shipping containers and HGV drivers has caused major disruptions in the supply chain and the imbalance of high demand and disrupted supply has led to rising prices and higher transport costs. Shipping costs were at record highs in September 2021, according to the Drewry World Container Index.
Further to this, according to FMI (Future Market Insights) the sales of pharmacy bags will significantly increase from now until 2031 due to increasing incidents of chronic illnesses associated with a sedentary lifestyle and the growing healthcare and pharmaceutical sector.
And there’s also another factor that will impact on Pharmacy packaging in 2022 – Plastic Packaging Tax… read on to learn more.

A ‘greener’ world

The UK hosted the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 31 October to 13 November 2021 - a carbon-neutral conference, with sustainability at its core. Parties were brought together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
With this and the introduction of a new tax on plastic packaging, environmental topics have travelled to the frontline in the UK, and indeed globally. 
In this article we cover off three key environmental topics. Each of these will impact many businesses and will likely be the subject of many communications through 2022 and ongoing. 
So, what are these key topics and how will they affect you?
Number 1: Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT)
Plastics are historically the most used material in pharmaceutical packaging. As we mentioned in our December 2020 article, carbon reduction objectives set for the pharma sector propose to reduce emissions by 59% by 2025.
Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) is a new tax that will be introduced in April 2022. It will apply to all plastic packaging that is produced in, or imported into, the UK that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic. 
The tax will predominantly affect UK manufacturers and importers of plastic packaging, although business customers of manufacturers, and consumers who buy plastic packaging or goods in plastic packaging in the UK may also be impacted.
Importers and manufacturers will be charged at a rate of £200 per tonne if the plastic packaging doesn’t contain the required amount.
It’s estimated that around 20,000 businesses will be impacted by the plastic tax in April 2022.
But why PPT? Well, the purpose of introducing this tax is to provide an incentive for businesses to drive a demand for recyclable material and divert unnecessary waste away from landfill and incineration.
Increasing the use of recycled content in plastic packaging, means that the manufacturing carbon footprint will be up to four times lower than that of virgin plastics. 
There are exemptions to the tax, a key one for the pharma market being that plastic packaging items that are manufactured for the purposes of immediately containing human medicines or treating human diseases will not be subject to PPT.
Other exemptions include Plastic Packaging that is:
  • Used in aircraft, ship, and rail goods stores
  • Used as transport packaging on imported goods
  • Permanently designated or set aside for use other than for a packaging use
Number 2: Greenwashing
Greenwashing is a term used to explain the conveyance of false impressions or provision of misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound.
The CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) has warned businesses they have until the New Year to make sure their environmental claims comply with the law, and they will carry out a full review of misleading green claims early next year and take action against any offending firms.
Words like ‘eco-friendly’ just won’t do anymore – clear evidence is needed of the specific properties that make that product eco-friendly. 
Number 3: Net Zero
Net Zero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced, and the amount removed from our atmosphere. 
The recent COP26 summit was held to accelerate global action on climate change. One of the COP26 goals is to Secure global Net Zero by 2050.
Many companies are introducing their own Net Zero roadmaps and targets to ensure a move towards greater sustainability.

So, what are we doing about these three topics?

Plastic Packaging Tax (PPT) – well, although most of our plastic packaging is sourced from the UK, we’re pleased to say that with our ISO 14001 accreditation we already have a great focus on our impact on the environment which is shown out in that fact that 95% of our plastic carrier bags sold in the last 6 months contain 30% or more recycled content. To make it easy for you to identify these products, we’ve now added a handy icon and page filter to all our plastic bags containing 30% or more recycled material.
But what about those virgin plastic packaging products? – we’re working with our supply base to either:
a) Amend the composition of the product to switch from 100% virgin to a 30% or more recycled plastic version, or;
b) Launch an alternative product that is manufactured from sustainably sourced paper
We recently attended the 2021 Environmental Packaging Summit where paper packaging was referred to as the sustainable, renewable choice. At the conference, key speakers shared insights into the packaging industry statistics, so let’s share some of these with you now:
  • Between 1990 and 2019, emissions of fossil Co2 from UK paper mills fell from 6.6 million to 1.8 million tonnes – a total reduction of 72%. 
  • Over 80% of all corrugated cardboard packaging is collected for recycling in the UK. 
  • 75% of all raw material used in papermaking for packaging are recovered fibres. 
  • The papermaking industry also returns 6% of water used.
So, it’s hardly surprising why paper is overtaking plastic in the packaging world. Talk to our team today for advice on the closest paper alternative we can offer to plastic carriers.
Greenwashing – rest assured, we can validate every environmental claim we make but to make things extra clear for our customers, we’re currently working on a content review and refresh of all our product information material as well as our website to ensure that products clearly state each of their specific environmental qualities, including relevant accreditations and qualifications. 
Net Zero – as a company we have already taken significant measures to reduce our carbon footprint, including but not limited to the installation of more energy efficient lighting (saving around 13.7 tonnes CO2) and sending 99% of invoices/statements out by email rather than post (saving circa 285 kilos of paper). 
But we want to take this a whole lot further by setting our own Net Zero goal as a company and getting the whole team on board with this in 2022.

When should you expect further news?

We’re all set to update our customers and keep them informed with progress and news relating to all these three topics, whether by way of articles on our website, or emails direct to your inbox - so be sure to keep an eye out for these in the New Year!

To summarise... 

Despite 2021 bringing with it supply chain challenges, we have seen over 90 million pharmacy bags despatched from our warehouse, and as a recognised key player in the prescription pharmacy bags market, you can be assured that we are actively establishing stronger supply bases to ensure we meet the extra demand for our Pharmacy Packaging products expected in 2022 and beyond. 
The year has sure kept us all busy with the evolving challenges of Covid-19 and hot topics around the impact we’re having on our environment too, but as a positive to this we’ve come out of it stronger than ever as a team and we’re all ready and set for what 2022 brings us! 
We’re always happy and would love to chat on + 44 (0)1785 250123 or hear from you by email at
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