Plastic is currently facing criticism.
How does this affect Nolato?
Plastic is currently facing criticism. How does this affect Nolato’s sustainability work?
“A lot of the criticism is about plastic ending up where it shouldn’t, such as in the sea. Up to eight million tonnes of plastic end up in the sea every year, harming fish and other animals.”
But plastic shouldn’t end up in the sea.
“Pollution is perhaps the most concerning issue that the world faces. Plastic breaks down very slowly in nature and can remain for hundreds of years. So it’s clear that the collection and recycling of used plastic products isn’t keeping pace with plastic production.”
What happens with Nolato’s plastic products?
“Every year, Nolato uses around 30,000 tonnes of plastic. A large proportion of the products that Nolato manufacturers are long-lasting and used, for example, in vehicles, garden machinery, mobile phones, furniture and medical equipment.
“These don’t constitute a major problem in this context and the products themselves are often subject to legal requirements and well-developed systems for recycling.”
But Nolato also produces plastic products with a short lifespan.
“Yes, these include consumer packaging for pharmaceuticals and food supplements, which usually ends up in domestic waste and is then burnt in a controlled manner.”
Does Nolato have a strategy concerning the environmental impact of plastic?
“Yes, we have made significant progress in our work to phase out additives that are hazardous to humans and the environment. As Nolato’s main raw material is plastic, we take care to minimise waste and scrap. We also have a target to increase the use of recycled plastic, as well as plastic that doesn’t come from fossil raw materials, i.e. bioplastics.”
Are bioplastics the solution for the future?
“This is where it gets a bit complicated. You first have to differentiate between bioplastic and biodegradable plastic. Bioplastics are made from plants like maize or sugarcane and consist of exactly the same polymer chains as in fossil plastics.
“So the properties of bioplastic are identical to those of traditional plastics, but they come from a renewable raw material and have a much lower carbon footprint. This type of plastic can be recycled using the same systems as for fossil plastics.
“But there are also question marks over this type of plastic. For example, many question whether it’s appropriate for foodstuffs to be used to produce plastic. Labour and environmental issues in cultivation are also important.
“And not all bioplastics are biodegradable, whereby microorganisms break down most of a material into water, carbon dioxide and residual substances. And those that are biodegradable cannot be disposed of via regular plastics recycling, as they destroy the properties of the recycled plastic.”
What’s your view on developments in this field?
“The environmental performance of products has become an increasingly important competitive factor for our customers, so there is an interest in changing and improving. In this respect, we consider ourselves to be a knowledgeable partner that can support our customers with green technology.
“Some industries are cautious and try to avoid changes as it can have an undesirable effect on product performance. In the medtech and pharmaceutical sector, for example, the fundamental rule is to use virgin materials.
“I believe that debate will drive development towards more non-fossil plastics being used and better recycling systems. Hopefully this will also influence human behaviour so that used plastic products end up where they should.”