Plastics & Environment
All products have an impact on the environment throughout their lifecycle. Plastics NZ works hard with it members and with its Environmental Committee to minimise these impacts by encouraging the production of plastics in an economically, socially and environmentally responsible manner.
There are a number of environmental benefits to using plastics which are often overlooked including increased fuel & energy efficiency, prolonging the shelf-life of foods and enabling life-saving medical technologies. For example, today's plastics make up 50% of the volume of new cars but only 10 percent of the weight, which helps make cars lighter and more fuel efficient, resulting in fewer CO2 emissions.
Alongside this most plastics are manufactured from a gaseous by-product of the oil-refining process (ethylene). Only 4% of the world's crude oil and natural gas production is used for plastics and much less energy is used to produce it compared to other materials. Increasingly, plastics are being manufactured from bio-based materials (those made from renewable bio-materials such as castor beans, organic waste, algae) and as a result reducing their impact on the environment.
Plastics New Zealand gets involved with the community, industry and government, helping to promote the 'think global, act local' sustainability message through practical initiatives.
Current projects include:
Plastics NZ has provided rubbish bags to the yacht and boat clubs of New Zealand. Our message to boaties is to bring all your rubbish back with you!
Environmental Best Practice Programme
Since 2004, Plastics NZ has been working with member companies to encourage environmental best practice. In excess of 80 companies have participated in the Plastics NZ Best Practice Programme initiatives, ranging from Design for the Environment through to energy efficiency in manufacturing. Currently there is a strong focus on energy efficiency across the industry. Further information can be found in the Efficient Manufacturing section.
Best Practice Energy Programme
Since 2007 Plastics New Zealand has worked with 44 member companies to help them find real energy savings in their businesses. The Programme has generated in excess of 15 gigawatt hours of annual savings, cutting energy bills by more than $2 million for the participating companies. The energy savings will reduce carbon emissions by more than 6000 tonnes per annum.
Alternatives to Landfill
Plastics NZ is actively investigating alternatives for non-recyclable plastics to prevent them ending up in landfill. Options being investigated include converting plastics to alternate fuels and waste to energy.
Operation Clean Sweep
Recognising that we all need to play our part in preventing marine litter, Plastics NZ has adopted Operation Clean Sweep. This is a programme designed to help plastic manufacturers keep their yards free of plastic resin pellets and prevent contamination of stormwater systems. Find out more...
Please Contact Plastics New Zealand if you are interested in setting up any environmental projects in the plastics industry. Plastics New Zealand has experience in accessing private sector and government funding for environmental projects.