Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Manufacturers Put the Case for Plastic Packaging in the Supply Chain

In a World Eliminating Such Comes Counter Arguments
Shipping News Feature

UK – WORLDWIDE – The rapidly changing face of modern logistics, due to a variety of reasons from the pandemic to digitalisation, and in some large part caused by the drive toward a greener world, has impacted on many companies along the international supply chain.

Increased use of robotics has also had a big effect on the way goods are packed and transported, and one company which says it has seen an upsurge in demand for its returnable transit packaging (RTP) as brands and retailers face increasing pressure to meet Net Zero carbon targets and storage warehouses introduce new technologies is Netherlands headquartered Schoeller Allibert.

The shift in emphasis has caused the company to reshape its product range, including the recently launched Maxinest® E-tail and Maxinest Evo® family of products, which includes new and upgraded versions of its Maxinest container for the grocery and supermarket retail sector. The new range of products includes the addition of features to enhance performance in automated warehouses, Click & Collect and home delivery environments. Jon Walkington, Retail and Systems Integrator Sales Director at Schoeller Allibert UK, commented:

“As part of the UK’s commitment to reducing the impact of climate change and making British industry carbon neutral, the Net Zero drive is shaping how day to day operations are carried out. With the current target to achieve Net Zero being 2050, and many calling for action sooner, it is likely to be a key industry driver for some time to come.

“Very early on, brands, packaging and retailers understood that reaching carbon neutrality couldn’t be done purely by changing products, ingredients and components, global supply chains are too complex for that. Instead, we look further up the process to find additional sustainability gains in terms of efficiency and reduction of waste.

“When sustainability needs to be demonstrated at every single level of the manufacturing and supply process, brands look to tighten how they move, handle and store goods and ingredients. Naturally, plastic RTP is perhaps the most robust way of reducing waste through handling, which I believe is why we are seeing such a strong up-turn in use.

“It’s clear that as brands prepare to adopt and implement Net Zero principles, supply chains will continue to see major operational shifts. After a challenging few months, sustainability is very much back in focus. It’s now a question of finding new areas for efficiency, and for many businesses, the answer lies in efficient goods handling and streamlined logistics.

“What will prove absolutely crucial is momentum, how we can continue to create change in increasingly complex global supply chains. Plastic RTP is one of the ways that this is being accomplished, but we expect to see continued innovation to further support these changes.”

Mentioning plastic and defeating climate change in the same sentence might seem like an oxymoron, but one British company is determined to demonstrate that there are alternatives to the traditional materials, particularly when it comes to the ubiquitous wooden pallet.

Goplasticpallets.com, which supplies an alternative solution to traditional wooden products, has widened its own plastic pallet and box recycling scheme to include products made by other companies. Since launching the industry’s first plastic pallet recycling scheme in February 2019, the company has gained support from customers nationwide, allowing the company to recycle more than 420 tonnes of plastic waste from customers used plastic pallets and boxes. Jim Hardisty, Managing Director, said:

”We promise our customers that when they buy from us, we will collect and recycle each and every plastic pallet and box we supply at the end of their long working life, or when they no longer have need for them, but we’ve come across customers who have old plastic pallets and boxes from other suppliers which they have no need for, but no easy way to dispose of them, as they were never offered the option to join a recycling scheme when they bought the products.

“This is why we’ve decided to take more responsibility, where others are not, and widen our recycling scheme. You could say we’re on a mission to clean up the nation of old or unused plastic pallets and boxes. Customers currently signed up to our plastic pallet recycling scheme benefit in two ways; they get to further their commitment to reducing plastic waste, but as used plastic pallets and boxes have an inherent value, they very often get a return in rebate too.

“To put our offering into perspective, the 420+ tonnes of plastic we have recycled to date is enough material to make more than 76,000 of our popular Cabka-IPS 110 PR nestable plastic pallets. It’s an achievement we are immensely proud of, particularly given the challenging times we are facing.”

Hardisty says that 96% of the long-life, reusable plastic pallets and pallet boxes which the company makes are themselves created using entirely recycled material too. The advocates for this technology point out that wooden pallets also have an effect on the environment, plus many are carrying toxins when treated to eliminate pests, and with the ISPM15 regulation about to hit UK companies, plastic for many will prove a viable alternative.

Photo: A selection of plastic products from Schoeller Allibert.