Every day is World Cleanup Day
Avoiding plastic waste and implementing closed-loop waste management will help to ensure that plastic no longer pollutes the environment in future. But there is much more to it than that. Plastic is only truly sustainable if its environmental impact can be reduced across the entire supply chain – both on World Cleanup Day and every day!
On September 21 is World Cleanup Day, an initiative that has grown from a rubbish-collection campaign in the small country of Estonia into one of the world’s biggest citizens’ movements. In 2018, 18 million people from 157 countries took part, helping to implement the world’s biggest cleanup initiative. Launched by Estonian organisation Let’s do it World, the campaign has spread around the world and inspired people from almost every country on the planet to adopt the idea. The response of the participants is an indication that action is urgently needed – at all levels.
At present, millions of tonnes of plastic waste end up in the environment, destroying ecosystems. Images presented in the media are dramatic and unsettling. The way we deal with plastic packaging is a global problem that has to be solved. Greiner is fully aware of the problem: on its own, enhancing resource efficiency is not enough. Clearly, the value-creation model applied in our economy is wasteful, and we still follow a make-use-dispose system. What we need is fundamental change in the way we treat the resources at our disposal.
Businesses are responsible for assessing the environmental impacts of their products, from development to use and across the entire life cycle. Products can only generate long-lasting benefits if this analysis includes the use phase and disposal. This also involves paying attention to decisive factors such as CO2 emissions, water consumption and conditions in the upstream supply chain.
Enhancing closed-loop waste management, reducing environmental impacts and designing products that can be recycled as effectively as possible are already an integral part of Greiner’s sustainability strategy. Closed-loop waste management means that raw materials extracted from the ground can be repeatedly reused, while renewable raw materials are used for as long as possible, and recycled using biologically harmless approaches.
Marine pollution is a catastrophe. This year, Greiner began collaborating with Plastic Bank on an initiative to transform plastic waste into a resource in the countries that have been most seriously affected by pollution. Greiner’s aim is to reduce plastic waste and poverty in developing countries. Since 2013 Plastic Bank has been running collection points where people can deposit plastic waste in exchange for cash. Plastic Bank then sells the waste to companies, creating a cycle.
As a global company, Greiner believes it has a responsibility to take action in this regard. Almost every person on the planet has had some sort of contact with one of the company’s products, be it in the form of a yoghurt pot, foam or medical supplies. These can serve as the starting point for implementing closed-loop waste management on a global scale. We need to make sure that consumer products never become waste, but instead form the base material for new products. Because this is the only way to make sure that World Cleanup Day is no longer necessary in the future.
“Designed for recyclability” is the motto of Greiner Packaging – one of the global group’s four plastic processing divisions. This guiding principle means that packaging solutions should, of course, be recyclable, but at the same time also improve the company’s ecological footprint. Another important factor for Greiner is that recycled materials account for a significant proportion of the raw material used in production. For instance, in the non-food segment Greiner was one of the first packaging companies in the world to develop solutions composed almost entirely of recycled materials.
In 2018, Greiner underlined its sustainability credentials by signing up to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Global Commitment initiative. Greiner is one of the first packaging companies worldwide to commit to establishing a closed-loop waste management system for plastic packaging in order to safeguard the environment. It has joined forces with over 250 key players from all stages of the supply chain with a view to developing a global approach aimed at solving the problem of plastic pollution.
Under the Ellen MacArthur Foundation Global Commitment, Greiner Packaging has set itself specific targets. The division is committed to eliminating problematic or unnecessary forms of plastic packaging, making all forms of plastic packaging fully recyclable or compostable, and ensuring that a significant proportion of its material consumption is accounted for by recycled materials – all by 2025. Greiner will judge its performance against these measures.