British consumers are showing low levels of tolerance with the plastics industry and the implications for plastics manufacturers go way beyond the issue of what to do with the 3.7m tonnes of plastic waste sent to UK landfill each year.
Whilst the public have long frowned upon single-use plastic bags, David Attenborough’s ‘Blue Planet 2’ has taken the antipathy towards plastic to a new level. Consumers have voiced their objections to plastic in an unprecedented way and the resulting environmental debate cannot be ignored by the industry.
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Theresa May outlined earlier this year how she plans to eradicate avoidable plastic waste within 25 years. The EU has set itself a 12-year deadline by which to have 100 per cent recyclability of plastic packaging across its member states.
Plastic straws will be banned by The Royal Estates, Pizza Express and London City Airport, whilst low-cost flight operator, Ryanair, has a 5-year plan to eliminate plastic on board. The Church of England even asked the public to give up plastics for Lent.
The plastics sector is under immense pressure to adapt and evolve. It needs to introduce recycling technologies and alternative materials faster than ever, as well as offering new solutions that the public deems acceptable. Better waste management, an exploration of bioplastic options and intensive R&D are all urgently required.
The UK’s biggest tea brand – PG Tips - is already switching to fully bio-degradable tea bags, free from synthetic materials such as polypropylene, whilst The Co-op is in the final stages of equipping its Fairtrade 99 brand with a fully biodegradable paper teabag.
As plastics manufacturers change processes, use different materials, create new waste management strategies and introduce new stock, health and safety procedures will be greatly impacted. New processes, machinery, raw products, changes in storage, or the use of robotics, will have to be audited and re-evaluated by health and safety managers and the ‘responsible person’ in each organisation.
Any change in a manufacturing process may influence an insurer’s decision to insure the plastics business. All changes will need to be notified to Insurers, as the business evolves.
A regular dialogue with their insurance broker is something all plastics manufacturers should maintain, allowing their experienced adviser to guide them through the insurance notifications required. If you need to know more about how to do this, please get in touch
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