Cop26: What are we going to do about it? 

As the dust settles on Cop26, it remains for businesses around the world to consider their environmental impact and the role they will play in helping to meet their country’s commitments to the Climate Pact. 

At Duo, we’re more committed than ever to driving positive change and being transparent about what we do, and why we do it.  

The majority of our customers are retailers, for whom sustainability has been top of the agenda for a number of years and is one of if not the main driver for most business decisions. Particularly with the growth in ecommerce from the pandemic, and the rise in consumer demand for retailers to evidence their sustainability claims and demonstrate how they’re using more sustainable processes and materials – especially when it comes to packaging. 

So here are some of the changes we’ve already made, and what you can expect to see from us over the next 12 months. 

  1. We’re continuing to pioneer closed-loop recycling - a method that recycles plastics in isolation to protect the performance of the material. This means the same material can then be recreated and reused. This year to date, fossil derived virgin plastic has accounted for just 46% of our material output; the majority of our products have been produced using renewable GreenPE and recycled material.  
  2. Ecommerce growth is continuing at an incredible pace and demand for our products has increased considerably. We’re approaching this market growth both in the UK and internationally by putting sustainability first. We’ve identified opportunities for innovation and further growth via circular economy principles. Focusing on end-of-life packaging solutions, we’ll continue to work with our customers and suppliers to scrutinise any products that we bring to market to ensure they meet the necessary requirements to reduce environmental impact across the whole supply chain. 
  3. Since 2019 we’ve reduced our gas and electricity usage by investing in energy-efficient manufacturing equipment. Since January of this year, we’ve produced more than 730 tonnes of material made from carbon negative GreenPE. 
  4. We’ve developed a Carbon Footprint Calculator for our customers, so we’re able to accurately evidence the carbon footprint of their packaging and find ways to reduce this by working together. 
  5. Our waste partner helped our Manchester site to become a zero waste to landfill site, and we’re also an active member of the Manchester City of Trees initiative. 
  6. We’ve already helped over 65% of our customers meet the minimum threshold for recycled content in their packaging ahead of the UK Plastic Packaging Tax coming into effect from 1st April 2022.  

To find out more, read about our Pact for the Planet here, or get in touch with our team today to discuss how we can make your packaging more sustainable.  

Rethinking Sustainable Development by Using Circular Economy Business Models 

COP26 is a milestone moment in the transition to a circular economy. Collaboration and changes to businesses models are actions that can be used to respond to the global climate crisis.

Earlier this year we were invited to participate in the REDUCES project (Rethinking Sustainable Development in European Regions by Using Circular Economy Business Models) in collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University.

The aim of the project is to identify the best business models in six European regions (Manchester being one) and find suggestions for each city and region to guide them towards sustainable circular business models.

Moving to a sustainable and circular business model has been a driver for many key decisions at Duo for many years. Polyethylene is a valuable and recyclable material that can be used to manufacture new packaging products, the challenge therefore was to capture this waste stream.

Firstly, we worked together with our clients to create bespoke packaging products with the full life cycle in mind. Consultancy with companies’ design teams helps design out waste and ensure returned waste can be reused. This in turn enabling Duo to retain a valuable source of high quality waste that can be recycled and reused. Some online retailers have around 40% of items returned, so packaging items are also designed into bespoke ‘best fit’ packaging with the ability to be re-used for the returns process. Finally, we have worked with our clients to collect the returned packaging, creating a closed loop in the recycling and manufacturing process.

Further to this, investment in and use of Green Polyethylene derived from sugar cane (GreenPE) in the production of mailing bags has created products that are carbon negative and carbon neutral. Duo was the first company in the world to do so in 2014.

For more information about Duo’s circular business model and the REDUCES project visit here

Redesigning packaging for the Circular Economy

The circular economy is becoming a frequently discussed topic both as a concept for government policy writing and consumer-based campaigns concerning materials.  

But what is a circular economy? A circular economy is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating a natural system*. A linear economy is where raw materials are mined and are processed into a product that is disgarded after use. The Circular Economy approach looks at evolving linear system into a circular.  

*Plastics are versatile materials, but the way they are used can sometimes be wasteful. The circular economy principle rethinks the way plastic products are made. In a new plastic economy, plastic never becomes waste or pollution. We’re innovating our products to ensure that they are reusable & recyclable circulating as many plastic items as possible to keep them in the economy and out of the environment.  

The UK Plastics Tax has been designed to boost recycling rates, reduce waste and encourage more sustainable product design all of which contribute to the circular economy.  As a result of the imminent tax, businesses are using this opportunity to re-visit their packaging product designs. If the packaging item contains at least 30% recycled content the product will be exempt from a £200 a tonne taxation. 

The policy is an opportunity to embrace the circular economy starting with re-designing the packaging used in your business.  Where to start? Firstly, review the existing packaging specification and design. Can the design be evolved so that less material is used without effecting performance? Can the packaging item be produced using recycled rather than virgin material or a percentage of recycled material? Can the packaging item be easily recycled at end of life? Considering each individual stage of how the packaging item is handled throughout its life will assist in making these decisions. 

With regards to ecommerce polyethylene mailing bags, including 30% recycled content will not affect the performance of the packaging product. Many of our clients such as Regatta and musicMagpie are successfully using more than 30% recycled material in their mailing bags already. Find out more about their specific packaging challenges here.

To learn more about The Plastic Packaging Tax watch our recent webinar in partnership with Comply Direct here 

Ellen MacArthur Foundation 2021:


Ellen MacArthur Foundation Plastics and the circular economy:

The Future of Packaging Covid-19 Update: Re-evaluating packaging strategies & building sustainable supply chains 

Covid-19 has fundamentally changed retail supply chains, with consumer demand proving turbulent and exceeding that of other seasonal peaks for some retailers, while others have been severely impacted.

Businesses have had to adapt, at pace. While this has presented overwhelming challenges, such a seismic shift has presented an opportunity for businesses to re-evaluate their packaging strategies and build sustainability into the packaging lifecycle and supply chains. This has presented opportunity to re-evaluate packaging strategies and supply chains. Here summarise

Our recent research report, the future of packaging report Covid-19 update, found 31% of businesses stated that Covid-19 has led them to reconsider their packaging strategy to focus on end of life options. Businesses are now handling and delivering more packaging to consumers’ homes, meaning the volume of packaging material used – and at-home recyclability of material – has been brought to the forefront more than ever before. Reverse logistics processes, such as retailers requesting customers to return their unwanted packaging as part of the returns process, helps towards controlling the end of life destination of the packaging product. This also enables retailers to recycle valuable commodities and utilise the material for new products.

The real opportunity for companies to improve sustainability in the packaging lifecycle lies at the beginning, starting at the R&D and design stage. Such as, reducing the size of packaging or using a super strength polythene blend that’s thinner but doesn’t compromise on durability, offers both cost savings and environmental benefits.

Improving packaging sustainability is a complex challenge. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, we know our best chance of finding the right solutions will come from a holistic, systemic approach that will require collaboration of stakeholders along both value and supply chains.

To continue reading this article, download your copy of the Future of Packaging Report: Covid-19 update here.

The Future of Packaging: Cost neutral thinking is the key to achieving green 

Packaging has long-suffered from a legacy issue of commoditisation yet to improve environmental performance, attitudes towards packaging procurement must evolve beyond being so cost-centric and instead adopt a cost-neutral approach.

Paying the price of legacy issues

Although many forms of business procurement are heavily influenced by cost, purchasing decisions will also typically consider value. This hasn’t always been the case when it comes to packaging. It’s typically viewed as a direct expense that erodes margins, meaning the lowest price will outweigh performance when it comes to purchasing.

This commoditised approach has limited the opportunity for the wider adoption of sustainable packaging solutions. The past few years have seen a gradual shift in this attitude, with forward-thinking companies looking at the far reaching efficiencies and benefits of sustainable packaging.

Some businesses have realised a small investment in renewable materials such as GreenPE and recycled materials can be marginal in terms of outlay, and yet prove hugely positive for the environment, brand reputation, customer loyalty and sales.

Continued influence of cost

In our research report The Future of Packaging, we asked which factors will influence packaging design and development in the next decade, 59% of companies stated ‘cost’. It ranked in the top three most influential factors and there’s very little difference between how influential cost is today, compared to its perceived influence in ten years’ time.

The continued high ranking of cost highlights a disconnect between the ambition for packaging to become more sustainable and the prohibitive constraints of expenditure.

Putting sustainability first

Cost neutral thinking allows businesses to build a case for change, which can make their packaging strategies both environmentally and cost-friendly. This form of thinking will also stop the Green Gap from widening in the next decade and help end a legacy of damaging commoditisation in packaging.

Download your free copy of our Future of Packaging report here and learn how premium lifestyle brand Joules overcame the bias of price during packaging procurement.


A packaging solution that enabled the adoption of more renewable and sustainable materials to meet the demands of the brands sustainability goals and the practicalities of logistics and dispatch. Most importantly the solution must not add to a future environmental dilemma.


DuoUK provided Joules with sustainable and renewable ecommerce packaging using GreenPE polythene. It was important for the brand to fully understand the eco-credentials of the solution and the life cycle assessment of the GreenPE material delivered this assurance.

Find out more here

So, a climate emergency has been what?

After the release of the IPCC report in October 2018 detailing the worryingly short amount of time we have left to tackle widespread climate breakdown, there has been a shift in consciousness around climate change.

The Carbon Literacy Project explains the much-needed actions that organisation, citizens and authorities should take:

Set a Target 

This is the first step so that everyone knows and can see what they’re working towards. Any target is better than none at all as it provides something to aim for, however, it is far better to aim too high, give it your all and perhaps miss slightly, than to aim low and not achieve the necessary reductions we need to avoid runaway climate change.

Make a Plan 

Key to any target is deciding on a path of action to achieve the goal in front of you, without which the chance of success is much less likely. Some things will be easily done, whereas others will require bigger structural changes. However, two things are certain, 1. we must start making these changes now, and 2. it will involve the cooperation of everyone.

Immediate Action 

Immediate changes and action are necessary now as the declaration suggests… it is an EMERGENCY! So, whilst a plan needs to be formulated, action needs to start as soon as the emergency has been declared. Some easy ideas on how to get the ball rolling individually can be found here.

Measuring and Reporting 

To ensure the success of any enacted plan, measuring and reporting throughout are necessary to keep track of progress (or not in some cases). This also enables you to assess where you’re up to, what’s going well, and what needs to be done differently to reach specific targets if you are off track.


How etailers are reducing environmental impact through easier returns

Anthony Brimelow, Commercial Director at Duo UK, explained to eDelivery how an easier returns policy can reduce waste and environmental impact.

With the ability to shop online 24/7, consumers expect the same convenience throughout the purchase, dispatch and delivery process. Every step must be as quick and convenient as possible, but there is one element of this process that remains slightly more complicated: returning unwanted items. However, a streamlined returns process can be key to gaining repeat customers and increasing brand loyalty, something that is crucial in a crowded market such as fast fashion.

Clear Returns Policy

Having a clear returns policy should be the first step that online retailers take to make the process easier for their customers. Make it concise, easy to understand and featured prominently on the website so that potential customers don’t have to actively search for the small print.

Smart Packaging Design

The actual returns process should be simple, too, with as few steps as necessary. Simple pioneering design innovations to a mailing bag have made a considerable difference to the returns process. The addition of a second glue strip with a serration, means that when a customer opens their delivery, the second glue line is preserved, and if they want to return unwanted items, they can use the same bag their order came in to send it back. This reduces the overall consumption of packaging, and removes the need for a customer to purchase a new packaging item.

Duo has invested in barcode printers and a system of sequential labelling, which enables unique information to be printed directly onto each mailing bag. As well as enabling the retailer to keep track on usage of each packaging item, this technology can also be used to print a returns label eradicating the need to print off, and include a paper label within the package.

Printing directly onto the mailing bag makes the bag easier to recycle in a closed loop recycling system and results in brands gaining higher value back on their scrap, something that allows a retailer to ease its margins on returned items.

Recoup Revenue from Returned Waste

Retailers who segregate their waste polythene returned by online retail customers from other material streams are generating income from this valuable waste stream. Duo collects and recycle this valuable commodity and will pay based on quality which can be used to off-set their packaging spend. The recycled pellets are put to good use by being used to make new packaging items and reduce dependency on finite, virgin polythene. It also contributes to reducing a company’s carbon footprint.

Featured on eDelivery. Read the full article here

Plastic: A Valuable Part of the Circular Economy

The issue of plastic waste is one that should absolutely be addressed. However, treating it in isolation and eradicating plastic as a knee-jerk reaction without looking at the bigger picture could in fact lead to negative and unintended consequences across the supply chain.

For example, if online retailers were to all move away from lightweight polythene mailing bags and replace them with cardboard boxes, it would significantly increase the number of pallets of stock required for the same number of packages - and therefore lead to more vehicles, more road miles and more CO2 emissions.

The fact is that plastic is resource-efficient, flexible, hygienic, durable and lightweight - and other materials available don't match those functional properties. Instead of getting rid of this valuable material from the supply chain, we need to take a holistic view and find ways to make packaging more sustainable, design it in a way that makes it reusable, and improve the infrastructure for it to be easily recycled on a national scale. Let’s get started:


GreenPE - plastic derived from sugarcane, is a renewable resource and, in the application of mailing bags, is chemically identical to regular plastic. It has the exact same properties as traditional polyethylene and can be recycled the same way, but avoids the use of finite fossil fuels. What's more, sugarcane absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it grows, helping to reduce global warming.


Make it reusable. When it comes designing mailing bags, one of the pioneering improvements is the addition of a second glue strip. This means that when a customer wants to return unwanted items, they can use the same bag their order came in to send them back, without the need for additional packaging items. They simply pop the items back in the bag and use the second glue strip to seal.


Close the loop. While there are limitations when it comes to end consumers recycling their plastic mailing bags - we've made great strides on the industrial side. With our closed-loop recycling scheme, we're working with retailers to help segregate their waste plastic, recycle this and use the recycled material to produce new products. This keeps valuable plastic in the economy and out of the environment plus reduces dependency on finite resources.

Featured in Retail Packaging Magazine. Read the full article here

Why we say no thank you to degradable additives

Our plan: reduce demand for new fossil-derived polythene by recycling and re-using to make new products

We have been introduced to many degradable additives but have yet to find one that doesn’t compromise the recycling chain. Plus, why send a valuable resource to biodegrade when it could be recycled and reduce the requirement for virgin materials? Demand for products with recycled content is on the increase, fossil reserves are under pressure and global warming is a growing concern. Recycling and re-using this valuable material helps keep polythene in the chain and out of landfill and contributing positively towards the areas of concern. Find out more about renewable material GreenPE and for information about recycling polythene visit Closed Loop Recycling.

What to do with Polythene Waste?

Polythene bags and film are recyclable and are commonly recycled in industry through closed loop recycling systems which helps to keep this valuable material in the economy and out of the environment. Recycling and re-using waste polythene to produce new packaging products reduces dependency on finite fossil-derived polythene. Every 1t of virgin polyethylene material use avoided is the equivalent embodied carbon saving of 2.621tCO2e. 

Polythene waste recycling is also available locally. Find out where your local recycling centre is here:

Recycle Now
Enter your postcode into the Recycling Locator to find where you can recycle certain materials locally here

Recycling Plastic Film & Carrier Bags at Supermarkets
Carrier bag collection points are at the larger stores of most major supermarkets including Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, The Co-op and Waitrose.

If you are a business with polythene waste we want to hear from you. Please call or email Duo UK at (+44) 0161 203 5767 /


A packaging solution that was eco-friendly without compromising its functionality, risking damage to the products, or increasing the amount of space the packaging takes up in their warehouse.


Thanks to GreenPE, DuoUK provided SportsPursuit with a carbon negative, branded polythene mailing bag. Working with the SportPursuit team we developed a design which clearly communicated and educated the customer on the environmental credentials of the packaging item and how to recycle at end of life.

Find out more here 


Provide Brathay Trust with a bag for their event event goodies that is reusable and recyclable. 


Duo UK provided Brathay Trust with a carrier bag made from 100% recycled polythene thanks to Duo UK's closed loop recycling facility. By choosing recycled material Brathay Trust avoided the use of virgin material equivalent to the embodied carbon saving of 2.621tCO2e per 1 tonne.
The bag featured a message encouraging the bag to be re-used and recycle it once it is at the end of its life. 

Find out more here


Provide myHermes an affordable, sustainable packaging solution to achieve their commitment to creating a naturally sustainable future.


Duo UK provided myHermes with a carbon negative, branded polythene mailing bag thanks to GreenPE. GreenPE is a sustainable and carbon negative alternative material to regular fossil based polythene.
By choosing GreenPE branded mailing bags myHermes are helping save 2.78kg of CO2 per for each kg of GreenPE produced.

Find out more here


6 Ways Packaging Can Help Reduce Your Company's Environmental Impact

Packaging is a critical business necessity, but it doesn't have to put a strain on the earth's natural resources and can actually help improve your company's environmental performance.

Download our handy chart to find simple, tailored, solutions to improve the eco-credentials of your packaging here.

Getting sustainability wrapped up

Packaging for online orders should be functional and durable and now thanks to innovations in packaging materials it is possible to also minimise an etailer’s environmental footprint. 

Key innovations in the packaging industry are those that don’t pollute the waste stream and are easy for companies to adopt. Here are the latest innovations in sustainable packaging which will help your brand achieve its sustainability goals:

Latest innovations in sustainable packaging:

GreenPE - A sustainable alternative to oil-based polythene, created from sugar cane, can be manufactured in the same way as polythene and is 100% sustainable, 100% renewable and 100% recyclable.

Recycled PET - Made from recyclable plastics such as bottles, this PET packaging reduces a company’s carbon footprint, saves natural resources, and lessens landfill waste and the incineration of plastic.

Tyvek - A durable material that combines the physical properties of paper, film and fabric, made with 100% polythene. Used for mailing envelopes, it is water resistant and tough, and provides a longer shelf life and better appearance over time.

Bamboo - Used for packaging and containers for wrapping fashion items by brands such a menswear label Lyme Terrace, which packages products such as its bamboo fabric T-shirts in tubes of bamboo.

Source: Delivery and Returns: Are you meeting customer expectations? Drapers Sept 2016

How packaging can help to reduce environmental impact

Retailers are under increasing pressure to visibly reduce their environmental impact and packaging is often perceived as an 'easy win'. Key for a business looking to reduce the environmental impact of its business is to review the packaging they use from design to disposal. 

The business benefits of this are significant, allowing companies to prepare for the legislative changes, communicate a positive message to customers and help towards achieving environmental targets.

Read more here

Reduce landfill by sorting your waste

Segregating waste on site into separate material streams can bring huge benefits to your business including minimising costs, reducing waste to landfill and maximise the opportunities for recovery and recycling.

A simple way to make this process easy and engaging for your employees is by using different coloured sacks to identify different materials for example orange for paper and card and green for polythene.

Making your packaging returns-friendly

Including a second glue line to your mailing bag, along with a message to let you customers know that they can re-use the bag for returns, ensures the packaging gets two uses instead of one. 

The customer won’t have to buy extra mailing packaging for their returns, your product will be sent back in quality packaging (potentially avoiding damage in the post), and better still, everything ends up back at your warehouse so that it can be added to polythene waste for closed loop recycling. 


Support JD Williams' pledge to reduce the carbon, waste and water footprint of the clothing it produces.


Together with JD Williams we created a robust cost-effective collection sack that was distributed in all outbound mail parcels. Customers were encouraged to fill with old clothes and arrange a collection by JD Williams. We worked with the brand to design a compact sack that clearly communicated user instructions, and was perfectly sized for inclusion in outbound mailing bags.  All clothes donated by the customers are given to the Triad charity.

Find out more here

Review your packaging range regularly

Product ranges change frequently; so make sure you check your packaging range still meets your needs.

A simple packaging audit will show whether you’re getting the optimum use from your current product range, see how we carry out audits here.

Just one small change to a different sized mailing bag could save a huge amount of waste, improve the presentation of your product and still mean your product reaches the customer in perfect condition.

Promote your Green Credentials

A growing number of consumers are making informed purchasing decisions and favouring brands that demonstrate their commitment to reducing their carbon footprint. Communicate your commitment to sustainability and educate consumers on what to do with a product and its end of life to recycle by integrating messages into your packaging design. 

Products produced from GreenPE, biobased plastic can be clearly identified by the "I'm Green" logo and the material type LDPE 4 identifies the material type for easy recycling.

Find out more about GreenPE and its carbon saving benefits here

Recycling for Cash

It’s not just the type of packaging material you select that can reduce your impact on the environment. The packaging waste in your warehouses and the packaging that is used to return items to you is also vital to reducing the amount of waste your company creates.

Segregating your waste into different materials means you’ll be able to avoid waste going to landfill, and for polythene waste you could even receive a payment per tonne.

Find out more about how easy it is to start closed loop recycling in your business here.


Reduce the amount of virgin polythene used in production of litter sacks created for Keep Britain Tidy’s ‘The Big Tidy Up’ event.


Using Duo’s closed-loop recycling process, we were able to reduce the amount of natural polythene used in the production of the litter sacks from 7 metric tonnes for every 100,000 to zero by using 100% recycled polythene, drastically reducing dependency on raw material and saving waste polythene from a life in landfill.

Find out more here

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