We must show that our daily lives are inconceivable without plastics and make it clear that plastics make a key contribution to a sustainable economy. Plastics are indispensable for achieving our climate targets and significantly reducing our carbon footprint. One way to achieve this goal is to use resources such as energy with increasing efficiency, and another is to establish a circular economy.
Furthermore, improved recycling technology represents a crucial tool towards achieving these goals. This task is huge and extremely multi-faceted, but it can be handled.
How can plastics become sustainable?
One path that is being pursued ever more intensively is that of recycling. By recycling resources, we contribute to the cycle of renewing plastic while maintaining biocapacity and reducing pollution and waste. Waste recycling on a larger-scale aids in preventing the depletion of natural resources.
As consumers, we have a responsibility to effectively recycle the plastic waste we produce so that plastic can be returned to the industrial and economic cycle. The state of recycling today is dependent on infrastructure – and the payoff of recycling is going to give long-term benefits to the economy and environment as well as dictate the future sustainability of plastics.
Current end of life options available are; recycling, biodegradation, landfilling, and incineration. And the current sad reality is that most of our waste directly goes to landfills which are limited in space and contribute to long-term pollution.
Which areas show the greatest challenges at present?
It’s a triumvirate of aligned challenges, we don’t have enough higher quality recyclates in the pipeline yet, nor enough input streams, and there are still not enough standards in this field. All these challenges are closely related; starting with the market: there is currently already in high demand for high-quality recyclates, but it just cannot be met.
The recyclability and pre-processing of a plastic is dependent on its chemical composition.
Inexpensive, lightweight and durable, plastic is a highly utilised synthetic material in modern society. Currently, seven distinct types of plastics are commonly distinguished: PET, HDPE, PVC-U, LDPE, PP and ‘other’, referring to plastic that is mixed or layered. Each type is composed of different organic compounds and features its own spectrum of physical and chemical properties.
China’s ban on importing waste has stalled global recycling, restricted even further by a global pandemic, oil crisis, compressed supply chain, and conflict in Ukraine has created a perfect storm, which in turn the cost of recycling and of recycled plastics has soared.
As a result, the market for plastic shows that higher prices for recycled plastic makes sustainable plastic a less favoured option amongst industries that rely on cheaper material to make profitable goods.
So, my big question today is how to make plastic more sustainable without sacrificing the cost or quality?
Since the mid 2000’s, the demand for sustainable products has been rising steadily due mainly to growing consumer awareness. People are concerned about how their waste is being reused and where it is going after being discarded as waste.
Producers have experimented with replacing organic fillers with plant-based fibres to enhance the sustainability, renewability and recyclability of their products. Others have developed bio-based solutions biodegradable at the end of life.
Sustainability in plastics can be therefore promoted at the beginning of life, through feedstock choice and at the end of life, by choosing options that promote circularity while preventing the depletion of non-renewable petroleum resources.
Why consider your life cycle perspective?
A life cycle perspective provides the relevant information needed to make good decisions – to protect the environment, improve the lives of people who produce the goods, and safeguard the health of people who use them.
When determining our environmental aspects, we review the information through our environmental management system. Some of our significant environmental impacts can occur during the transport, delivery, use, end-of-life treatment or final disposal of its product or service.
PolyBlend considers its life cycle perspective; our typical stages of a product life cycle include raw material acquisition, design, production, transportation/delivery, use, end-of-life treatment and final disposal. The life cycle stages that are applicable will vary depending on the activity, product or service.
That’s why we adopt a life cycle thinking approach across all of our operations, ensuring that our processes are as responsible and sustainable as they can be.
As a provider of global polymer solutions, our compliance with ISO14001 alongside our strong commitment to sustainable practices, enables us to provide the highest level of environmental standards to our customers.
we can potentially prevent or mitigate adverse environmental impacts during these life cycle stages. PolyBlend considers the extent of control or influence that it can exert over activities, products and services. Employing a robust life cycle perspective is key to being a sustainable producer.
Controlling our impact on the environment.
At PolyBlend, we apply long-term sustainability thinking to the design and development of the lifecycle of our products, services, and the wellbeing of our employees. We further act as a responsible manufacturer of high-performance sustainable products.
At Polyblend, we understand the importance of minimising our impact on the environment and promoting the positives of the plastics industry and its products.
We also take responsibility for the way we operate our sites and promote safe and ethical working practices to minimise the impact on the environment. We apply sustainable processes and practices within our business and the wider industry with learning from our employees, suppliers, customers and the local community.
All our employees contribute to sustainability daily, and we are fully committed to…
Our dedication to sustainability
At PolyBlend, we take responsibility for the way we operate our sites and promote safe and ethical working practices to minimise the impact on the environment. We apply sustainable processes and practices within our business and the wider industry with learning from our employees, suppliers, customers and the local community.
We apply long-term sustainability thinking to the design and development of the lifecycle of our products, services, and the wellbeing of our employees. We function as a responsible manufacturer of high-performance sustainable products.
Sustainability means doing the business the right way; environmentally, socially, and financially.
Plastics are part of the solution to arresting Climate Change. The plastics industry only consumes 4% of the world’s oil production as feedstock. The rest is used for energy and transport. The production of most plastic products is not energy intensive compared to metals, glass and paper.
Plastic products play a major role in saving and conserving energy and power safety.
We must face the fact we need plastics. What we don’t need is plastic waste and the waste of plastic. Plastics that are recyclable are typically downcycled rather than fully recycled. This means that they are turned into products of lesser value that often cannot be recycled again. As consumers, we need to understand plastics benefits and reduce the product discard and promote the recycling. As an industry, we need we work together as producers globally on how we solve it for the future generations and the protection of the environment.
Dip Moulding is a simple and frequently employed process used worldwide. It works by creating a ‘to-scale’ mould of the product before it is heated and dipped in a liquid PVC or Acrylic, known as plastisol. With this type of process, the speed of entry and dip time determines the shape and thickness of the final product.
PolyBlend Managing Director, Mark Stewart announces his official retirement date as Friday March 31st 2023.
Let me wish all of you – our customers, our suppliers, our staff and my network – a very Merry Christmas!