Plastic is amazing – but it needs to be used correctly
But there is another side to the coin and plastics are associated with several environmental problems. Plastics can contain hazardous additives that can cause harm to people and the environment. The majority of plastics are made from fossil crude oil – a non-renewable raw material that has a negative climate impact.
One particular environmental problem that has come to the fore in recent years is the contamination of our oceans. It is mainly caused by plastic used in consumer products with a short lifespan in countries with underdeveloped collection and recycling systems. Large quantities of plastic rubbish end up in the ocean, where it can take hundreds of years to break down.
So what’s Nolato’s view of plastics in relation to the environment?
We ask Torbjörn Brorson, Nolato’s Head of Sustainable Development:
“We share the view that plastics have both positive and negative qualities from an environmental perspective. Nolato uses somewhere in the region of 40,000 tonnes of plastic a year and our product range contains products that have both a long and short lifespan.
“Long-lasting products are used as components in items such as vehicles, mobile phones, household appliances and medical devices. Most of the time there are efficient systems in place for collecting and recycling the plastic in products such as these.
“Short-lived products include pharmaceutical packaging and single-use products within health care. Many of these products are recycled, but we cannot rule out the possibility of some of them ending up littering the environment.”
What is Nolato doing to reduce the environmental impact of plastics?
“We have taken action to reduce or completely phase out the use of hazardous additives in the plastic.
“We are also endeavouring to reduce the percentage of fossil raw material in the product. For example, we have developed pharmaceutical packaging in which reduced weight generates environmental benefit while bringing costs down. Increasing the content of the filler material chalk is also a solution that is being applied in a number of products.”
How interested are customers in environmentally sustainable plastics?
“We use around 600 tonnes of recycled plastic a year and are taking active measures to increase this. We are also seeing increased customer interest in our environmentally sustainable plastics. For instance, there’s an expressed interest in the automotive industry. One of our customers in that sector has a target for all its vehicles to contain 25 percent recycled plastic by the year 2025.
“There is also growing interest among customers in the hygiene and furniture sectors. We have a number of ongoing or initiated projects with such customers.
“Interest within pharmaceuticals and medical devices is less pronounced. This is most likely to do with the fact that it is costly and complicated to register changes in technical specifications with the pharmaceutical regulatory authorities.”