DUO develops bespoke sustainable packaging solutions for global businesses, using GreenPE and Recycled Poly, significantly reducing global Virgin Plastic use.
Established in Manchester in 1988, DUO is a category-leading consultancy & polythene manufacturer and closed loop recycling solution provider. It has a UK manufacturing site, 5 international warehouses across 4 continents and a network of UK recycling partners which are used, depending on the quality of waste material.

It produces sustainable packaging for large global online retailers and collects their returned packaging, creating a closed loop in the recycling and manufacturing process. It works with them to create bespoke packaging with the full lifecycle in mind. Consultancy with companies’ design teams helps design out waste and ensure returned waste can be reused, ensuring that DUO retains a valuable source of high quality waste it can reuse or recycle. Some online retailers have around 40% of items returned, so packaging also is designed into bespoke ‘best fit’ packaging with consideration of type and minimisation of print ink to ensure it can be recycled and remanufactured.

DUO is investing in and using Green Polyethylene derived from sugar cane (GreenPE) to produce mailing bags, the first company in the world to do so in 2014. Their products also include carbon neutral packaging options.

The company is now working on conducting full life cycle accreditation of its products, and co-creating its own in-house carbon calculator. DUO has also invested in and is helping to expand a recycling company

Resources needed

DUO has 110 staff based in Manchester, with an annual turnover of approximately £29m. No public sector support.

Evidence of success

Annual turnover £29m.
110 Staff.
Almost 300 global clients.
5 International warehouses on 4 continents.
Through research and consultancy with its clients, by 2021, DUO has managed to shift significantly to Green PE and Recycled Poly (was 26% of total packaging output in 2018, now 51%), removing 3,500 tonnes of Virgin Poly from packaging per year compared with 2018.

Carbon Savings In 2020 alone, using GreenPE & Recycled materials saved 1,201.98tCO2e.

Difficulties encountered

Challenges overcome:
- Inclusion of a high % of recycled content
- Recycled material can be unpredictable
- Availability of good quality recycled material in UK
- Lack of local skilled polythene manufacturer workforce (led to inhouse development)
- Container cost and availability

Potential for learning or transfer

DUO offers to work with any company requiring bespoke sustainable packaging solutions. This partnership working is key to its success.
The introduction of the UK Plastic Tax in 2022 has encouraged clients to increase or include a percentage of recycled material in their products.
Access to high quality recycled materials is essential (including solutions to make it possible).

DUO is a strong example of an established businesses being innovative and experimental and finding opportunity for growth via circular economy principles. It is an exemplar of innovation and ingenuity, not just through technology (where it has been incredibly active) but also by adapting its business model and embracing concepts such as the waste created by its business and clients businesses (packaging) being returned to it for reuse and recycling. By offering tailored support and services to its clients DUO is demonstrating an ability to challenge others in its product value chain, driving sustainability
Main institution
Duo Plastics
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom
Start Date
June 1988
End Date


Please login to contact the author.