Khaled El Sayed
Do the right thing was a promotion in the 1980s encouraging all of us to put our litter in the bin.
Today “do the right thing” involves avoiding, reusing and recycling to achieve increased efficiency and environmental sustainability.
We have all heard of the latest green initiatives within the industry, most of which require a little capital. Some require a lot, some require specific training, and most have no real cost benefit to the organisation – they all do, however, allow industry to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse emissions.
The last ten years has seen a major push towards environmental sustainability. This drive towards being green used to be something that was only discussed as a matter of course to ensure compliance with the relevant bodies.
Action to reduce waste, either by encouraging material efficiency, reducing the generation of waste, or enabling the recovery and reuse of discarded material is a critical element of sustainable development. The Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts is developing partnerships and facilitating action with the states and industry to address these issues.
Being ‘green’ does not necessarily need to cost you money. Being green is, however, a non-negotiable aspect of doing business today.
There is now a process that has raised a few eyebrows as it achieves significant cost savings. Imagine if you could not only reduce the waste generated but actually receive a rebate for the material.
Currently linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) is the material used in stretch film manufacture and usually finds its way into commercial dumpsters. It is removed at a cost to the organisation, and if not sorted, it will end up in landfill.
Now you can eliminate the waste bin pickups and the eventual dumping into landfill. The process begins with a thorough assessment of the operation and the installation of a film compactor. The film is then baled and collected, the weight is calculated on an average weight per bale, and a rebate is paid direct to the organisation.
Recycled plastic material can be remade into a number of different products, including decking, marine components, pot plant holders, injection-moulded products and, more often than not, turned into pellets ready to be remade into stretch film.
Contamination is the biggest threat to recycling, in particular when recycling blown type film that tends to capture contaminants due to its adhesive properties
The USA is at the forefront of recycling LLDPE with companies such as Mobil, Dow, Rubbermaid and Tucker housewares, leading the way in plastic landfill reduction.
Mobil has created a manufactured timber product that uses 50% sawdust and 50% LLDPE for outdoor use.
The greatest challenge in recycling and ultimate landfill reduction is the amount of product that is imported, combined with the locally produced product. Last year,
Australia produced more than 1.3 million tonnes of plastic – that’s more than 71 kg per person. Plastics are made from oil, gas and coal, which are limited natural resources.
With over 1/3 of all plastics used within the packaging industry being imported from Asia, it’s very important that we ensure imported film is not dumped into local landfill. Australia cannot be used as a dumping ground for imported film.
Some green groups have lobbied to have imported film exported back to the country of origin for recycling. Logistics and Warehouse Supplies, based in Sydney, is currently negotiating with overseas recyclers to take used film. China, Malaysia and Singapore are currently the largest producers of LLDPE film and are in the process of signing an agreement to receive material for recycling.
The plastics industry is the second largest manufacturing sector by turnover and a substantial contributor to other sectors such as automotive and packaging. The National Packaging Covenant, a collaborative initiative between industry and government to reduce packaging waste, has launched its call for Round 2 funding proposals, with up to $6 million available.
With this type of support from industry and government, it is important that we as individuals all get behind these initiatives in order to guarantee its success.
It’s our industry, it’s our country, it’s our lifestyle – lets protect it.
Khaled El Sayed is the general manager of Logistics and Warehouse Supplies.