The UK’s leading plastics trade association, the British Plastics Federation, has launched its first sustainability report looking at wider sustainability initiatives from across the industry.
Sustainability in the plastics supply chain highlights the positive contribution the industry has made towards ongoing environmental issues, covering sustainable manufacturing practices, sector-specific contributions to sustainability and end of life management.
“It needs to be recognized that the UK plastics industry is a national economic strength,” said BPF Director-General Philip Law. “This report highlights the vast amount of fantastic work that has been done in recent years and shows how plastic is an irreplaceable material if society is to continue to reduce its impact on the environment — especially if the UK is to achieve its target of essentially eliminating greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”
In a previous report dating from 2018 and published under the title Plastics: A Vision for a Circular Economy, specific areas were examined where the BPF and its members could positively influence sustainability outcomes and work towards achieving a UK circular economy.
The circular economy model offers an alternative model to the current "linear" economy. It has as aim to maintain the value of products, materials and resources for as long as possible by returning them into the product cycle at the end of their use, while minimizing the generation of GHG emissions and waste. This will be achieved through smart product design and sustainable production to save resources and create new business and employment opportunities.
For the plastics sector, this translates into a more efficient use of virgin material by incorporating recycled content where possible, increasing recycling, reuse and minimizing waste generation.
Building on these findings, this new report describes how the plastics industry is responding: by contributing significantly to strengthening the market for secondary plastics materials, decreasing energy use in plastics processing, and setting new international standards.
Moreover, the report clearly underlines the industry’s determination — despite the dual challenges of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic — to continue with its sustainability agenda.
A“Because the plastics industry has been under such public scrutiny it has a far greater understanding of what sustainability means for an industrial material than any other sector," said BPF Sustainability Committee Jason Leadbitter.
As well as offering insights into the industry, infographics and data, the report also features a number of case studies from across the supply chain, ranging from initiatives to reduce reliance on energy from the grid to innovations in sorting technology for plastic waste.