One of, it not the most, effective way of making a plastic product environmentally friendly is to make sure that the product is recycled in an optimal way at the end of its lifecycle. Actions to make recycling easier and better can be taken by a variety of different sectors of society in multiple ways. Whether that be through the government setting up new regulations and tax incentives or the general public changing its view on recycling. Although we at Nolato can try to influence material manufacturers and recycling companies to get them to do their part, the primary area where we can make a difference is within the design and development of products.
Nolato is a product development and production company. Although we produce some products under our own brand, we primarily produce and develop products for other companies that then in turn sell them to wholesalers and individuals. Being both a production company and a product development company, we have all the necessary knowledge to produce products that are optimized for recycling which also means that we have a certain responsibility to do so.
There is a certain amount of misunderstanding and misuse of the word ”recycling” or ”recycled” in the English language today. In certain sectors and situations, a product can be deemed recycled when it is simply incinerated or “recycled for energy”. In the case of plastic, this is certainly not what you want from an environmental perspective due to the fact that incineration of plastic results in carbon dioxide getting released into the atmosphere. At Nolato we consider a plastic recycled when it can be used again and again multiple times over.
Designing a product that is easy to recycle comes down to two primary objectives - the first one being to design the entire product, or as much of the products as possible, in the same material, striving for a so-called mono-material design. This is particularly important in single-use products such as packaging, where it is especially important that the recycling process is simple and effortless. Mono-material design is something we have a long history of working with and is something we recommend to our customers whenever it is possible.
The second objective when designing a product for recycling is to make components that are not possible to make in the same material easy to take apart from each other. This objective of designing for disassembly is not easy to accomplish. Especially not when working with complex products with many parts or with pharmaceutical products that need to be completely sealed when assembled; however, this is when it is most important and most worthwhile.
One of the big obstacles in the recycling of pharmaceutical products is that contaminated parts should not be recycled due to sanitary concerns. Designing for disassembly enables these contaminated parts to be removed and for the rest of the parts to be recycled. Since a few years back, we at Nolato have been working alongside one of our customers, developing an insulin delivery device designed to be disassembled for exactly this reason.
Because of the fact that we do not make the final design decisions on most of the products that we develop and produce, we are to a large extent at the mercy of our customers and in turn their customers’ wants. We believe that sustainable designs are the future and that those companies that are ahead of the curve in that development will have a lot to gain. Nolato has the necessary knowledge and experience; we just need the demand. Read about the efforts we make in order to encourage our customers to use environmentally friendly materials and production methods here.