Plastic - A success story and a disaster

 

It's difficult to imagine our modern lives today without plastics. Since large-scale production of plastics began in the 1950s, it's estimated that 8,300 metric tonnes have been created - the equivalent to one billion elephants. Production is on the increase. In 2015 alone, the world manufactured almost 500 million tonnes, more than twice as much as made in 1998.  

The business success of plastic is down to its extreme adaptability, robustness and flexibility, plus its very light weight.

The material has played an important role in reducing the overall environmental impact of products through reduced damage in transit, reduced environmental impact of transportation and a reduction in food waste levels by increasing protection and extending shelf life.

For all its benefits, there's now a wider movement for a more sustainable approach to plastics. With consumers becoming increasingly concerned about its environmental impact - from the production of plastic using fossil fuels to the unsustainable disposal at its end of life - there are real issues for businesses to address throughout the supply chain. 

Back to the top 

 

Why are businesses responding now to the plastic challenge?

plastic litter on a beach

Mounting public pressure means companies across the world are now responding to the waste crisis to help reduce familiar scenes as shown above and create a healthier business. 

Since the end of 2017, there have been a wave of pledges and position statements released by manufacturers and retailers around their plastic reduction ambitions.

Why now? The problem of plastic pollution seems to have reached a critical point among consumers and the public. The regular images being seen could not be ignored any further. With consumer pressure rising, other bodies have had to react. We've seen governments discuss and introduce new policies and initiatives, boards asking for change and investors demanding more transparency. 

Reducing the impacts of plastic on the environment is a particular priority for businesses who use plastic to package their products. It's packaging that is the largest market for plastic material created.  

The plastic challenge is complex. There are many factors competing simultaneously that need to be considered when developing action and strategy plans.

Reacting to the challenge now also presents businesses with great opportunities, such as:

  • Innovation around new products
  • Developing new USPs
  • Securing customer loyalty and brand recognition
  • Safeguarding supply chains
  • Create a more circular business economy to cut costs and waste.  

We fully understand the importance of plastic packaging for retailers and manufacturers, with the role it plays in protecting and ensuring the safe delivery of a product. We also understand the necessity in reducing plastic waste and single-use plastic, the amount of products containing microplastics, littering and ensuing sustainable end of use handling of plastics.

Our free sustainable plastics guide explores how your organisation can create an actionable strategy to fully address these issues.

Back to the top 

 

Creating your plastic strategy

It's going to be vital for businesses to respond to the issues on a strategical level. Effective propositions need to make sense financially and on a long-term scale. Without a well-thought strategy, any actions you take could fall at the first hurdle. 

If you're not sure where to start, download our 7-page single-use plastic FAQ guide, where we give our expert view on a series of questions published by the government. This will help to give you a better understanding from where you can develop your approach. 

Developed from working with businesses on this topic, our deep subject expertise can help you start the journey, define your strategy and mobilise your team. 

You might want to:

  • Understand how the current political landscape, consumer concerns and other disruptive factors could impact on your business model
  • Undertake a plastic packaging inventory and hot spot analysis to identify the volumes, types and formats of plastics used within your business to identify potential risks and opportunities
  • Develop your company’s priorities in relation to plastic reduction and what it wants to achieve. These could be tied to Sustainable Development Goals or other existing sustainability targets
  • Identify priority areas of focus and potential solutions to develop using prioritisation processes, informed through the initial three actions.

Anthesis packaging and plastics offer infographic

Back to the top

 

Implementing your plastic strategy

Creating a business conscious plastic strategy is your first step. After that comes implementation where your company can start to make a real change. Rest assured, change is not to the detriment of your business, but to the long-term benefit. We can help you make crucial, evidence-backed decisions.  

The unique set-up of Anthesis as true specialist in the market, means we can bring additional expertise and further insight to the table. We understand the technical issues and positioning strategies, but can also provide implementation with design and materials expertise. 

When it comes to packaging we can provide support with:

  • Alternative packaging reviews
  • Compliance measures
  • Materials sourcing and advice
  • Designing for recyclability
  • Raw material substitution and impact assessments.   

With sustainable chemistry experts at hand, we can thoroughly assess substitution strategies for the packaging you use, as well as green claims, eco-toxicity assessments and regulation guidance. 

Back to the top

 

Getting the rest of your supply chain in order

As many business supply chains span across the globe, it's not as simple as getting your own house in order. Many companies now are focussed on creating sustainable supply chains where best practice is identified and rolled out to all your suppliers.

Our experience in working on a global front, can benefit your organisation when it comes to supply chain design, risk assessment and resource efficiency reviews.    

We can help you create and implement a strategy to come full circle (as shown above) in your approach through production, consumer use and end of life. Where your product ends up when it is no longer needed or desired is the final step that is often missed out. Our experience of recycling and waste management will enable you to get this right so you have true solutions running through your products.

Back to the top

 

Our plastics and packaging projects 

A snapshot of the clients we have worked with on plastics, sustainable packaging innovations and the recycling of packaging. 

unilever akzonobel costa coffee
coveris log belu logo Huhtamaki Logo
avaya-967536-edited pcrgg_logo_final tesco logo

 

Project 1: Meeting plastics packaging targets for an international retailer

 

Seconded two days a week for six months to support a retailer in setting their plastic and packaging reduction targets. This involves working with the internal Corporate Social Responsibility team, buyers and suppliers to establish a baseline, strategy of change and a monitoring and reporting programme going forward. 

Project 2: Setting achievable plastic and packaging reduction targets for a high-end retailer

 

Working with the in-house sustainability team to assess the draft plastic and packaging reduction targets. The draft targets were assessed against competition and deliverability. Advice was also given on the text to be presented to the UK board on the goals and targets. 

Project 3: Assessing the design impacts on recyclability of hard to process packaging formats in the carbon board industry

 

Helped establish a trial of three MRFs (Materials Recovery Facilities) to identify the challenges and opportunities for enhancing the sorting, recycling and reprocessing of carton board packaging, including paper cups. We also assessed the interaction between material and product design choices on performance in the recycling infrastructure. 

Back to the top

 


 Download our free PDF guides

Plastic waste dumping maldives-2

packaging line plastic pollution in lake-206156-edited-113662-edited

How to tackle the sustainable plastic challenge - get our takeaway PDF insight

Guide to design more sustainable packaging & manufacturing solutions

Single-use plastic FAQs for businesses - download your free guide

 

Back to the top


Discover more of our leading plastic content:

 plastics webinar clothes on rail plastic-packaging-bottles-production-369x369
circular economy globe

 

Webinar - Watch our single-use plastics webinar on actions businesses can take 

 

Blog - Why brands should be prioritising the reduction of microfibers

 

Blog - Future of plastic: how should businesses respond to plastic-mania?

 

PDF Guide - How to embrace a circular economy in your own operations

 

Back to the top


 

Would you like to speak to someone about addressing your plastic challenge?