Polythene is perfect for packaging and protection, but we must consider the environmental impact of its production, use and disposal. However, it’s important to understand that some of the issues around plastics are complex and what may at first glance seem a better option for the planet could have its own drawbacks.
Across the world, governments are legislating. Industry is making advances all the time – and that’s not something solely driven by consumer demand. We all want a greener, safer world – even those of us whose business is in plastics.
We’re passionate about the subject, and if you would like to learn more, you can always get in touch with us here at AB Supplies. We have put together, information on what’s happening,how we can help you, some of the advances and a few of the issues.
All polythene does degrade. Over time, light and heat turn polythene into a brittle material, and this breaks down into small flakes. It just takes a long time for this to happen.
At first glance, biodegradable films are the future of polythene, but like everything, it’s not quite that simple.
Unfortunately, that magic piece of polythene that vanishes into a cloud of dust when finished with doesn’t exist (not just yet anyway) but at AB Supplies Ltd, we are working on a range of products that are better for the planet.
Initially, within the industry, the focus was on recycling. Virgin plastics, once used, were reprocessed. After cleaning and granulating, a proportion of re-granulated material (regran) was blended with new virgin materials. Improving technology has allowed the proportion of regran to be increased, and fully recycled materials are now possible.
One of the challenges with regran materials is ensuring that quality is good. For example, it would be difficult to guarantee clear film with a poor quality regran input. There’s also some confusion about using regran materials for food-grade packaging. The rules are changing, and the industry is doing its best to respond.
At AB Supplies Ltd, we are very careful with our sourcing, working with reputable recyclers who have high standards. Our regran options are 100% recycled and we believe they are the best option for the environment.
PCW is post-consumer waste. The concept is simple: when the consumer has finished with the plastic, recover it, reprocess it and reuse it.
At AB Supplies Ltd, we’ve been working in this area for several years. We work with teams that actively source and buy back used (finished with) products. We send these materials to our recycling partner, who reprocesses the waste into excellent quality recycled material.
We offer all our PCW (recycled) films as 100% recycled content but can adjust this percentage to suit the application. For example, 100% PCW would not be effective for shrink grade material, but we are proud to offer shrink grade PCW films with 50% recycled content.
One of the misconceptions we face is that recycled materials should be cheap. If only it were that simple.
One of the new regulations states that to avoid being liable for the Plastics Tax, at least 30% of a product’s content should be derived from post-consumer waste. If not, from 2022, there will be a tax levied of 20%.
The issue is also complicated by the costs – both financial and environmental – of re-using post-consumer waste. It must be collected, transported, cleaned and reprocessed, all activities which have an impact.
If you need help navigating your way through this minefield, our knowledgeable team at AB Supplies are here to help.
For over a decade the industry has been developing high-strength blends. The chemistry is smart, but the concept is simple.
By making polythene thinner but every bit as strong, you get the functionality you need while saving 20% of the polythene.
It does get a little complicated in that high-strength blends are more expensive to manufacture. Weight for weight, you pay around 10% more but you use 20% less. There’s a genuine saving in both raw materials and the environmental impact of its production.
Our high performance/high strength blend, polythene’s thickness to be reduced without compromising on strength, performance or functionality. Its use will cut the volume of polythene being produced globally.
Takes post-consumer waste and converts it into re-usable pellets which become the raw material for new bags, film, sheets and covers.
Choosing Regran-based polythene saves precious fossil fuel resources and cuts the risk of pollution. It’s good news for you too: your customers want to know that you’re doing your bit to tackle the problem of plastic waste.
With Regran, you’re taking a big step towards a greener planet.
This is produced by adding an additive to our existing blends which speeds up the normal polythene degradation process.
Cost-effective: around 10% price uplift
The additive is used in small doses, leaving film blends largely unchanged.
Some environmentalists question its use because it degrades and cannot be fed into the recycling stream.
Still derived from a scarce resource (oil) but cannot be recycled or incinerated for energy generation.
Made from a combination of potato and/or corn starch, It is fully compostable. The material requires the right conditions to decompose fully – temperatures above 50OC, moisture and bacteria.
Can be composted at home. and will degrade away to ‘nothing’.
Considered to be the most eco-friendly material available.
Cream/white colour and therefore not suitable if the packaged product needs to be visible.
Technology not yet available for larger sized products and a lack of composting sites in the UK.
Made from sugar cane rather than oil. Through the process of photosynthesis, it is, by its very nature, ‘green’.
It can be made ‘pure’ which will give you a carbon-negative polythene film or in combination with conventional LDPE (low-density polyethylene) to give you a carbon-neutral product.
Cheaper than biodegradable material and fully recyclable.
Sugar cane is grown on reclaimed wasteland and doesn’t impact the rain forest.
More expensive than oxy-degradable.
Still not biodegradable.