Since 2013 there have been considerable protests from companies, pressure groups and even American towns, to ban single-use plastic bottles. A small town in Massachusetts banned the sale of water bottles smaller than one litre after an 84-year-old grandmother led a campaign for the ban. She was inspired by a vast floating island of plastic waste in the Pacific Ocean, and she’s not the only one.
In the UK, Selfridges and London Zoo have been changing the way in which they sell, or don’t sell, water bottles. London Zoo sold 155,000 single use plastic bottles of water last year, and this week has banned them with the intention to sell reusable plastic bottles which can be filled by visitors from taps. Selfridges stopped selling single-use water bottles all together. Other companies like Coca Cola are already committed to increasing the use of recycled materials and are at the forefront in driving policy towards sustainability.
In the UK only half of the 13 billion plastic bottles we use are recycled, whereas in Germany 98.5 per cent of plastic bottles in a deposit scheme are returned. Perhaps a deposit scheme is required in the UK to recycle more? Of course another alternative is to change the manufacturing process. If we don’t, research by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that the ocean is expected to contain 1 tonne of plastic for every 3 tonnes of fish by 2025, and by 2050, more plastics than fish (by weight).
Where recycle or re-use options are limited either due to hygiene concerns or for more technical or infrastructure reasons the demand is increasing for more biodegradable products including those that are compatible with anaerobic digestion and energy from waste schemes.
All these changes come not just from campaigners, but from a general consumer demand and the circular / sustainability economy looks like it will have a major impact on the plastics industry as well as its customers. Whether it is led by consumer demand or policymaking, demand is set to grow and material suppliers ignore this trend at their peril. Some companies such as Aquapak Polymers Ltd are getting ahead of the game by investing in the production of new bio-degradable and water-soluble plastics to serve this growing demand.
With these changes comes the need to handle new raw ingredients with different material handling characteristics so the new economy will have knock-on effects for plant engineering companies like ourselves. With impressive, industrial scale testing facilities covering dosing, weighing, mixing and extrusion as well as conveying, storage and blending we are ready for the challenges ahead.
If you’d like to talk to us about how we can provide process solutions and help you with the move towards a sustainable future for us all, please do get in touch.
Simply call Zeppelin Systems on 01623 753291 or email email@example.com.