From 1964 to 2014 the use of plastics has increased by 20 times from 15 million metric tons to 311 Mt in 2014. The growth of the plastics industry in consumer products is widely viewed as a negative contributor to the environment because of the emission of greenhouse gasses, air, water and land pollution, and depletion of water. These environmental costs have led to arguments that plastics should be replaced with alternative materials, however recent studies from Trucost and the American Chemistry Council modeled the substitution of plastic with alternative materials like paper, steel, aluminum and glass, and the model suggests that a move from plastics may come at an even higher environmental impact.
In fact, the studies show that the environmental cost of plastics in consumer goods is 3.8 times less than alternative materials needed to replace plastic. “Although alternative materials such as glass, aluminum and paper are viable alternatives to plastic in many consumer goods applications they have higher environmental costs in the quantities needed to replace plastic”
Plastics materials benefit society in many ways despite their impact on the environment. “Plastic packaged food lasts longer, reducing wastage. Use of plastic in pipes facilitates clean drinking water supplies, while plastic enables life-saving medical devices such as surgical equipment and drips. Due to its light weight, plastic use in vehicles has reduced carbon dioxide emissions from transport” (Plastics and Sustainability: A Valuation of Environmental Benefits, Costs and Opportunities for Continuous Improvement, Executive Summary).
But despite this good news about plastics being the right material for packaging, consumer products applications, and transportation, manufacturers of plastic still have to do as much as they can to be more sustainable and to proactively develop new solutions and systems that lead to increased sustainability. That is why at Impact Plastics we are always looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint by implementing new procedures and investing in new technology or materials. Below are some of the sustainability initiatives integrated into daily operations at Impact Plastics:
Air Make-Up System
The installation of our high efficiency Air Makeup System has reduced company wide consumption of natural gas by converting to a process heating system. This conversion allows our production facilities to control the air flow in and out of the building, effectively eliminating the need for natural gas as a heating source, all while reducing contamination within our production facility and creating a more comfortable working environment.
Solar Energy System
Through the implementation of a new solar energy system, energy consumed at our Putnam, CT factory is now supplemented with power from solar panels, offsetting current on-site electric usage with clean, renewable, solar energy. Through the addition of this system we will generate over 14 million kWh of clean energy over a period of 25 years.
Utility (recycled) Grade Plastic Sheet
Impact Plastics offers utility/recycled grades of the materials we produce to offer our customers an economic and environmentally friendly alternative to virgin resins. The nature of our processes allow us to take already processed materials that would otherwise be waste and re-use it in a utility grade material designed for non-critical / non-FDA applications. Not only is the re-use of this material a sustainable way to cut down on waste, but it also allows us to provide a lower cost alternative for our customers. Customers considering this material should note that utility grade material from Impact Plastics is not FDA approved.
Through implementation of rail sites at each production facility as our primary means of raw material delivery we have been able to significantly reduced company wide fuel consumption. Using this method for our raw material delivery allows for company-wide fuel consumption savings of thousands of trucks per year.
To learn more about our sustainable initiatives, make recommendations or suggestions for new initiatives to contact us so we can become more sustainable together!