OPINION – Stretching our thinking on sustainability
The sustainability experts exploring viable alternatives to traditional stretch wrap

Stretch wrap creates up to 3 million metric tons* of plastic packaging waste, but it’s essential to the safe shipment of goods worldwide. So, how can the packaging and logistics sectors become more sustainable, without compromising safety?

We recently attended the International EUMOS Conference – joining peers from across the packaging, logistics and supply chain sectors. There we heard an interesting and inspiring presentation on a project exploring how to make stretch wrap more sustainable.

Anna Brockhaus, Principal Consultant for Anthesis, presented on ‘The Stretch Wrap Alternative Project’ – SWAP. Anthesis is a worldwide team of sustainability experts, supporting organisations to deliver sustainable performance. It led the SWAP Project, commissioned by Microsoft and supported by members of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation network, including Cisco and Estee Lauder Companies.

Up to 78 million metric tons* of plastic packaging is created every year, with the majority of this going to landfill or incineration or becoming litter. Of that packaging, around 3 million metric tons* (just under 4%) is commercial film. (According to research from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Eunomia, respectively.)

The SWAP Project has seen experts explore how to reimagine stretch wrap – its production, management at end-of-life, or disposal – in order to limit its negative impact. It looked at:

  • Reuse – assessing and testing reusable pallet wrap – SWAP’s prioritised approach
  • Recycle – exploring recyclable pallet stretch wrap, using a closed loop recycling process
  • Compost – testing the use and disposal of industrially-compostable pallet stretch wrap

For each option, the SWAP Project sought to identify both the benefits and the challenges, assessing each against four criteria: technical feasibility, including performance, safety and convenience; scalability for implementation; environmental impacts, including emissions, ecotoxicity and circularity; and commercial considerations.

Robert McEwan, Managing Director of MorsaPack, said: “Personally, I was particularly impressed, inspired and reassured to hear how the performance and safety of stretch wrap has been acknowledged and prioritised by the project. They understand that safety cannot be compromised in the name of sustainability. 

“The SWAP Project primarily explored how stretch wrap can be produced and disposed of or managed at end-of-life to support sustainability. But it also highlighted that preventing or limiting the overuse or wastage of stretch wrap in the first place is key for all users.

“This is exactly what we advocate – advising our customers on how to apply the right wrap, at the right stretch and right volume to deliver the tensions and stability required, without using excess product.

“I look forward to hearing more about SWAP’s findings and impact on the packaging and logistics sector.”

To learn more about this project, visit:

*Different studies find different totals for how much stretch wrap contributes to plastic packaging waste globally. This piece reflects the figures shared by Antheses, from its research and SWAP.

About EUMOS & the 7th International Conference:

EUMOS – the European Safe Logistics Association – works to improve safety through the logistics chain, setting standards and sharing best practice on how to ensure the stability, security and safety of loads in transit. The 7th International Conference was held in Frankfurt, Germany, in March, hosting speakers and delegates from across Europe.

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