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Plastics Today, September 2015

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sustainability outlook 38 Global Plastics RePoRt 2015 Plasticstoday.com Fairly or unfairly, the plastics industry is associated with wastefulness and lit- ter, and is seen as a major contributor to the throwaway society. Because of this perception, the industry cannot afford to sit back and wait it out, and nor should it. After all, the plastics industry is also a major global employer, and sustainable business practices have been shown to have a positive impact on a company's bottom line. Moreover, in Europe, it is one of the five most innovative sectors. But, perhaps, most important is the fact that the plastics industry has a compel- ling message to get across: Plastics are essential if the needs of a sustainable society are to be met. Sustainability in practice Various efforts are already in progress. Standards and regulations are being put in place that require measurable results, which go a long way toward legitimizing green certifications and combatting gre- enwashing. Also, campaigns to educate the public have been launched, as have better national and international col- laboration programs and communication on the collection, recycling and re-use of plastics, in order to boost recycling rates. Plastic litter is being attacked at the source—think plastic bag bans—and designers are starting to address end-of- life questions about waste plastic at the design stage. The valorization of plastic waste, whether through recycling or incineration (plastics retain the calorific value of the oil used to make them), is attracting increasing attention, leading to less plastic being shunted into landfills. Companies themselves are taking steps to boost production efficiency; another way action is being taken is by improv- ing their natural resource management, cutting their consumption of water and energy, reducing waste by re-using pro- duction scrap, and cutting their carbon emissions. Bioplastics are gaining cred- ibility as innovative materials that can add value through their intrinsic proper- ties, which, it should be noted, do not always include biodegradability. Yet basically, sustainability is a mind- set. Recognizing that sustainability can actually be a driver of success is the first step. However, acting on this realization requires companies to change the way they do things, which is, perhaps, one of the hardest things to do. It requires thought, planning, energy, time and good communication. However, if the example of, say, DuPont is anything to go by, it would appear to be more than worth it. According to the authors of the McKinsey article referred to above, DuPont began its sustainability opera- tions more than 20 years ago as a mat- ter of risk reduction. Since then, these have turned into a major profit center. According to this article, the company has invested $879 million in R&D for products with quantifiable environmen- tal benefits since 2011 and recorded $2 billion in annual revenue from products that reduce GHG emissions and an additional $11.8 billion in revenues from non-depletable resources. Not bad at all. The bottom line? Sustainability pays. Pharma Personal Care Consumer Goods Packaging Automotive Setting Standards in Mold Technology BRAUNFORM GIVES THE WORLD NEW SHAPES. Braunform at Fakuma Friedrichshafen, Germany 13. – 17.10.2015 Hall A5 I Booth 5207

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