– Manufacturers can demand more from their suppliers. Currently, many companies, quite rightly, use recyclable product packaging. However, plastic, corrugated card and steel are only recyclable when isolated, not if they are mixed. The issue is further complicated when you have thousands of suppliers using different types of plastic in their packaging. Manufacturers need to be more specific about what they want from their suppliers. For example, they could demand that all packaging be made from transparent LDPE plastic.
Is there anything you should absolutely avoid?
– To give one example, it is difficult to analyze and sort black plastic, as the measuring equipment can’t detect it. Colored plastics, in general, reduce the potential for reuse significantly, as the color can’t be removed. Overall, transparent plastic is the easiest to recycle and has the greatest resale value. We should try to use standardized plastic, that contains as few additives, color, air and chemicals as possible.
Can you give an example of good plastic recycling in action?
– One of our large industrial customers uses the same type of hard plastic in all their solid packaging - the trays and boxes used to send materials between their different companies, factories and suppliers. The trays are reused hundreds, if not thousands, of times. When they become worn and broken, they are sent for recycling and turned into new plastic. This is a good example of a functioning circular flow. Once plastics need sorting and washing, processing becomes more complicated, expensive and requires new technology.
What are the most obvious trends in plastic consumption?
– Consumers are going to become more demanding about how plastic is used in the manufacturing industry. We will see specific requirements being applied to a wider range of products, as is currently the case in the food industry. This is already happening in clothing manufacture, with greater demands for organic and recycled products. We expect Swedish manufacturers will be asking their suppliers to produce more plastic from recycled materials, just as they do today with other materials.