How Progressive Manufacturers Are Protecting the Environment
As a globe, we only recycle one-fifth of all of the plastic we use. Europe is paving the way with a 30% recycling rate, while the United States sits behind China at just a 9% rate of recycling its plastic trash. Plastic pollution continues to damage our planet as the use of plastics has risen over the last decade, with around 18 billion pounds of plastic waste flowing into the oceans from coastal regions each year.* Plastic manufacturing companies are in a unique position to reduce this negative impact by improving daily operations for production and distribution. Within the plastics industry, many are taking steps to contribute to the solution, rather than the problem, with plastic and the environment.
Research, Revisit and Redesign
Technology evolves every single day, providing new opportunities for those in the plastics industry to continuously tweak their processes. Major CPG companies like PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Dow, Danone, Unilever, and The Coca-Cola Company recently pulled over 100 million dollars together through the investment firm Circulate Capital to fight ocean plastic pollution, which is rising by eight million tons every year*. New technology means new tools are being created, providing fresh opportunities for these businesses to put those dollars toward cutting- edge methods for lessening their carbon footprint and minimizing plastic pollution.
Manufacturing company Tessy Plastics is always searching for more innovative technology and ideas to refine processes, utilize less waste, and incorporate more recyclable materials. They are currently working toward finding new ways to use less plastic per product. Through the application of Sigmasoft technology and the use of hot runner systems, the company is striving to reduce runner size and eventually eliminate the use of runners completely on new tooling.
Obtain and Maintain ISO 14001: 2015 Certification
Plastics manufacturers are also investing their resources into education and certifications in order to establish the level of commitment they have to enhance their environmental performance. ISO 14001: 2015 Certification sets out the parameters for organizations to follow the requirements for an environmental management system (EMS) that can be used to enhance environmental performance. An EMS is defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) as, “part of the management system used to manage environmental aspects, fulfill compliance obligations, and address risks and opportunities.”
Judson Vann, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, from Tessy Plastics provided some insight on how obtaining and maintaining ISO 14001: 2015 has equipped them to fulfill their own environmental commitments:
“Through obtaining and maintaining ISO 14001: 2015, Tessy is able to stay up to date with current and future requirements for sustainable business practices. The certification also assists with our environmental commitments by encouraging our suppliers to adopt our practices as well. We have reduced our energy and water consumption, resulting in improved overall efficiencies.”
ISO 14001: 2015 Certification doesn’t establish specific criteria of environmental performance that must be met, but rather functions as a tool to work.
Commit to Change
Education and certification can go a long way toward enacting change within the plastics manufacturing industry, but we can’t stop there. Concrete commitments and actionable efforts toward change are what’s going to make the biggest impact in combating climate change. Two ways companies can do this are by:
- Selecting and committing to one or more UN Sustainable Development Goals
- Signing the Climate Declaration
Sustainable Development Goals
The UN describes the Sustainable Development Goals as, “the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.” These goals comprehensively address the challenges we face globally with poverty, inequality, climate, the environment, and more. All 17 goals are interconnected, with a target achievement deadline of 2030.
Tessy Plastics commits to three UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that align with their company values. Their hope is that this pledge will motivate employees, suppliers, and customers to align with these same goals or discover their own path to participating in global sustainable development.
Vann explained the specific steps they are taking to achieve their three chosen goals:
Goal 3: Good health and well- being. “We submit data annually to the Carbon Disclosure Project in order to receive scoring for our sustainable efforts in the workplace. We are one of 139 companies that have received an ‘A’ rating for the Carbon Disclosure Project in 2018. We are the only plastic manufacturer included on the list.”
Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production. “ 91% (2,326 tons) of Tessy’s total waste was diverted in 2018 — with the remainder converted into 173,409.588 kWh of electricity.”
Goal 13: Climate action. “We are 100% Conflict Mineral Free. Conflict-free refers to suppliers, supply chains, smelters and refiners whose sources of conflict minerals do not finance conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo or adjoining countries. Tessy Plastics requires proof from suppliers who fall into the scope of conflict minerals rule of the Dodd-Frank Act.”
Companies can further cement their commitment by signing the Ceres Climate Declaration. Ceres equips leaders and organizations with the tools and research to take action on climate and transform the way we impact the environment. Their Commit to Climate Initiative works toward keeping the United States on track to fulfill the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, which it cannot do without corporate commitment.
Companies can show support and pledge to do their part to positively impact the environment on a local, national, and global level. Investor, company, and policy network partners include organizations such as Starbucks, Microsoft, Nestle, Etsy, Target, PepsiCo, Ford, Apple, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo, to name a few.
Americans are increasingly paying closer attention to how hard companies are working toward creating a better future for our planet, and they’re directing their dollars accordingly. Making the investment in the research, resources, education, and commitment required to support the climate and the environment is not only good for the earth and the economy — it’s also great for your bottom line. By joining the fight for the environment, plastics manufacturers can build the bridge toward a better world.