Emissions from plastic waste are a major global issue.
What’s more, almost half of all plastic produced is only used once before it’s thrown away and just 9% is recycled. The rest clogs our lakes, landfills, and oceans, or produces harmful pollution if it is incinerated.
This system, where new plastic is continually made and thrown away, is unsustainable. That’s why this Net Zero Week (1-7 July), Schoeller Allibert is committed to doing everything we can to help reduce emissions from plastic.
Our plastic returnable transit packaging (RTP) is designed to be too good to waste. This primarily means that rather than being thrown away after each use, Schoeller Allibert RTP is intended to be used time and time again: up to 250 times on average. With each reuse, new plastic is prevented from entering the supply chain, meaning that in the long-term, this model helps prevent plastic waste.
Studies show that RTP has a waste prevention potential of approximately 4:1. As a result, every tonne of RTP used in logistics takes four tonnes of waste out of circulation. Compared with other materials commonly used for single-use packaging, such as wood or cardboard, reusable plastic crates produce 5% and 88% less emissions over their lifespans respectively.
The concept of a ‘waste hierarchy’ has been in use for almost 50 years. This model evaluates the best methods for waste reduction and handling, while also prioritising resource conservation. Preventing and reducing waste are placed at the top of the pyramid, followed by reuse, because reusing materials means keeping them in service for as long as possible before they are recycled, reducing energy and resource consumption.
Reuse is generally preferable to recycling because recycling programmes rely on collection systems being both in place and readily used. However, unfortunately this is not always the case, with just 49% of plastic packaging used in Britain being recycled, according to the British Plastics Federation. Any materials that are collected must be transported to recycling facilities, where energy and water are used in the process of remaking them into new products.
In contrast, Schoeller Allibert’s RTP stays in use for between five and 15 years at a time before it needs to be reprocessed, making it a far more efficient use of natural resources.
Recycling is still essential for providing a sustainable source of raw materials to industries that rely on plastic for their operations. Research indicates that recycling plastics saves between 30% and 80% of the carbon emissions generated by using virgin materials, and if all plastic were recycled, we could save between 30 and 150 million tonnes of CO2 every year.
All Schoeller Allibert, packaging is designed to be fully recyclable and contains at least 30% recycled plastic content, with this figure often higher – particularly among our Circuline range. What’s more, we aim to make it as easy as possible for our customers to recycle their plastic RTP. From helping them track assets with SmartLink to ensure old crates can be found and repurposed, to our buyback programme, which ensures end-of-life packaging is recovered for recycling, we are committed to simplifying the recycling process wherever we can. Several of our factories contain grinders that can break old crates down into plastic flakes, which are directly used for producing new RTP.
However, we know that we can do more. That’s why by 2035, we will reduce our scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions by 30% compared with our 2020 baseline, and by 2050, we will fully close the plastic loop by becoming fully circular.
Net Zero Week 2023 highlights one of the most important issues that modern businesses are facing. We hope that our ambitious action on plastic waste inspires and encourages others to step up their operations and help take us forward together to a more sustainable future.