Showcasing our environmentally-friendly plastics range and speaking about a greener, cleaner future at RWM 2018

Next month we’ll be showcasing our extensive portfolio of sacks, bags and speciality products for the storage and collection of waste and recyclables at RWM 2018

We hope that you’ll be able to visit us on our stand 5P32 and find out more about our products, which are designed to make the world cleaner, greener and more economical. On display will be our lightweight LowCO2t ™ range, which uses less material to achieve the same performance standards as conventional sacks and are packaged in smaller cartons. This means the volume of plastic used is minimised, as are the carbon emissions during production and transport. Less storage space is required too.

Other best-selling products include brands such as ensa®, Wave®, Sansafe®, and Kerbie®, which are all exclusive to Cromwell Polythene. Our range includes waste and recycling sacks and all shapes and sizes of bin liners, compactor sacks, UN approved clinical waste sacks, and compostable liners. That’s in addition to food-grade bags, kerb-side recycling bags, woven sacks, disposable personal protective equipment, as well as film, sheeting and tubing.

Plastics recycling will be a hot topic for discussion at RWM, since plastic has been having a hard time in the media recently. It is, however, essential for modern life, and, if manufactured and used responsibly, plastic can benefit the environment and continue to enrich our lives.

I’ll be speaking on this issue at RWM on 12 September in a talk themed ‘Time to stop bashing the plastics.’ Through the media, people are associating plastic with anti-social behaviour (littering) and bad waste management, and there’s no denying it is both a problem today and a current and future threat to the environment. The bigger issue though is climate change, and the human impact on climate change will be accelerated if we reject modern lightweight plastic materials. The problems of plastic litter and marine pollution are very real and need tackling, but they are the result of littering and/or poor waste management, meaning the leakage of valuable resources is caused by  lack of, or inadequate infrastructure, not something inherent in the material.

Photo credit WRAP

Those working on the environmental/recycling-side of a local authority will know that plastic is highly recyclable when treated properly and can be used to generate energy at the end of its useful life. Crucially, they will also know that plastic products are an integral part of the waste management and recycling infrastructure.

Plastics are a popular product thanks to their versatility, resource profile and price. If they weren’t the best option to protect and preserve products and minimise waste, then manufacturers wouldn’t use them. Although there have been issues with over packaging, plastics cost money so manufacturers and retailers are not using them for the sake of it.

Looking at alternatives to plastic and the impact of using them, glass is much heavier and so transport costs and emissions are much greater – a typical truck load of empty glass jars weighs 19 tonnes more than the plastic equivalent. Glass is also more fragile and can lead to further wastage. As for bags, we’ve already seen that ‘bags for life’ may not be the solution. Why can’t we return to paper bags is an often heard refrain? Well go ahead, paper bags are widely available, but let’s not kid ourselves that they just grow on trees. The energy used and associated emissions means that paper bags have a global warming potential four times greater than a single use plastic bag, and recycling paper uses 91% more energy than plastic.

In my opinion, rather than taxes or bans on plastic packaging, which punish everyone, governments should be concentrating efforts on reinforcing existing environmental regulations, working with overseas counterparts to improve waste management and recycling infrastructure. At home, we should increase penalties and fines for individuals and corporations who flout the law and contribute to the problem; revenues from fines could help pay for clean-ups.

Banning all single use plastic items (it’s not just plastic packaging washing up on the beaches) would have tremendous disadvantages to modern living and would create huge inefficiencies in the supply chain, with associated costs to the environment. We need to clean up our act to reduce littering but at the same time fully consider the consequences of the alternatives which could lead us to burn through resources faster and accelerate climate change.

If you’d like to know more, come and visit us on Stand 5P32 at RWM, listen to our talk on 12 September, or give us a call on 01977 686 868.