If you’ve ever sat in a Volvo, then you’ve most likely sat in front of an instrument panel manufactured by International Automotive Components (IAC), one of Stena Recycling’s customers.
IAC's factory in Torslanda opened in 2007 and currently employs 700 people. Here, 1200 dashboards and 2000 door panels are manufactured per day – all of them for Volvo. It’s not hard to imagine the huge amount of material that is handled here every day. And when it comes recycling plastic, the ambition level is high.
"We have big ambitions, but we also face big challenges,” says Tomas Götlind, HSE Manager at IAC.
IAC and Stena Recycling have been working together since 2010. A large part of this collaboration focuses on reducing waste and managing and sorting recyclable plastics correctly at their source. Stena Recycling guides IAC in this process to ensure their materials retain their value.
Plastic is a technologically advanced material that requires high competence throughout the entire chain. Stena Recycling works closely with IAC and has learned all about the challenges the company faces. Using in-depth knowledge of the materials, Stena can ensure that the high-quality levels are maintained and that residual waste is used for other components in the automotive industry.
By guiding and sorting the plastic, the materials end up in the right place and the material streams are kept as smooth and clean as possible. This is an important factor when it comes to efficient recycling and one that benefits both customers and the planet.
Even though sorting has a high priority, Stena Recycling must understand the factory processes and the work carried out there. To ensure this, Glenn Wernäng, Account Manager at Stena Recycling, visits the IAC factory every week to check the containers, check procedures, follow up and offer guidance. But it's also about familiarizing yourself with daily operations.
"It’s about working together as closely as possible, understanding the factory and the flow. But in order to understand each other, you have to be present,” says Glenn Wernäng.
One solution Stena Recycling and IAC are working on together is about training and creating the best conditions for the correct handling of materials.
"There are many parts of the process that must work to succeed. The ambition is to train the staff who handle the material, but also ensure that packaging and marking of bins is clear, "say Tomas Götlind.
"The person standing at the machine has the best knowledge and is the expert at that particular point. That's why I speak to different people when I'm in the factory, " explains Glenn Wernäng.
Whatever part of the recycling process a customer needs help with, Stena Recycling can contribute and help close the loop – everything from creating recycling-friendly designs to selecting and sorting materials, to transport.
For IAC, the next step is to work with the logistics in the factory so that materials are handled correctly and plastics are properly sorted at the source from the workstations out to the right bins in the yard. This not only applies to those who work at the source, truck drivers who move the material also need training regarding the different materials they handle.
"It’s important to carry out an inventory of your factory and ensure the different departments all work together," says Glenn Wernäng. This means Employees, team leaders, managers and logistics must work towards the same goal to ensure optimum quality.
You are less likely to disrupt production if you have clear rules for how the factory operates,” adds Tomas Götlind.
But as with all major changes, not least when it comes to creating a circular economy, ambitions require patience and endurance in the form of long-term cooperation between IAC and Stena Recycling.
"There are a lot of ideas in the pipeline, but you have to work in step with the business. Production comes first. It’s all about finding the right balance with the highest possible levels of efficiency and safety,” explains Tomas Götlin, before adding that a great deal of work with plastic is trying to reduce the amount of waste.
"There lies the biggest profit. But whatever waste we get, we will take care of in the best possible way.”
Collaboration is a fundamental part of efficient plastic recycling. Tomas Götlind from IAC and Glenn Wernäng from Stena Recycling regularly meet in the factory to go through sorting, logistics and recycling processes.