How is the relationship between plastics and the environment?

We will herewith approach the major challenges the plastic industries face and what are the sustainable alternatives to reduce the environmental impact, while maintaining, at the same time, the productivity of the sector.

In this article we are going to talk about:

Challenges in the plastics industry vs environment

The changes generated globally over the last decades are more than obvious. We have not only experienced them in the technological and digital field, but also in terms of social and environmental awareness.

Companies are increasingly under pressure to assess the environmental impact of their business actions and strategies; and at this point, plastic packaging has become the focus of a problem that claims for actions to be taken.

The plastics industry is going through a series of adversities and new challenges that force it to generate an answer by means of strategies to give viability to each business.

What are these challenges in the plastics industry today?

  1. Abrupt fluctuations in the costs of plastic resins as a result of shortages, technical stops of suppliers, the high price of transport and the increase of energy costs.
  2. Problems in the logistics chain that cause supply shortages and delays in the supply of raw materials.
  3. The continuous increase in inflation at the global level, causes increases in prices and reduces the purchasing power of consumers, affecting sales in all sectors, especially consumer products.
  4. The restrictions and new regulations on plastics, whose government and tax laws such as in Spain the “Law of waste and contaminated soils for a circular economy", directly affect the entire production chain.

The bad reputation of plastic and the continuous attack and its demonized link with the environment tends to generate misinformation and rejection by society.

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Environmental impact of plastic

While it is true that plastic materials and the environment maintain a complex relationship, as society acquires a "sustainable" awareness and seeks to protect the environment, it has become clear that there is a profound ignorance of their enormous advantages.

Plastic containers are lightweight and highly efficient, and they adapt to any type of product. It is no coincidence that it is one of the most required and used materials in the packaging industry, but its impact on the environment is visible, while other materials with a larger carbon footprint cause an impact that may not be so evident to the eyes of the consumer. Considering the reduction of the use of plastics is important but we must also take into account the carbon footprint of the alternatives that may be proposed for their replacement.

It is important to open the debate on the environmental impact of plastic and assess how beneficial its total eradication might be. Many experts agree that this could become even more harmful because, probably, the pollution that would be generated could become even greater.


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To value the sustainability of production and the consumption of resources in an objective and scientific manner is essential. Numerous analyses of the life cycle of products have concluded that many materials used as alternatives to plastic in terms of packaging (paper, glass, metal...), have a significantly higher water use or CO2 impact compared to the use of plastic packaging.

If the plastic in packaging were to be replaced as far as possible by another material, let’s say, for instance, paper, more material would be required to pack the same amount of products and the energy expenditure of their production and recycling would be doubled.

The problem we face goes beyond the material we use, whether it is plastic or paper, glass or metal. The problem lies in our performance and attitude, the use we make of those materials, and how comfortable our society has become: our weekly shop is done from home, and if we move to the supermarket, we pretend that everything is packaged to finish quickly. We hardly cook, we order it "home delivery" or “take away” or buy precooked directly. All these consumption habits (just a small example) lead to overpackaging and excess of resources used.

However, the plastics processing industry is obliged to reinvent itself, and it is doing so, but it is also imperative to raise awareness about the best use that should be given to plastics: to raise awareness in society and adopt more sustainable solutions.

Sustainable plastic packaging? Yes, it is possible

Facing so many challenges and debates around plastics and the environment, it is time to analyze new alternatives, given that consumers, companies and governments have demanded it.

The plastics processing industry has moved forward and has managed, to a large extent, to reinvent itself. Technological innovations to provide highest quality, safety and, at the same time, sustainability to packaging and materials.

The industry has managed to face the challenge posed by society and using creativity and large investments has brought together most of their demands. Materials obtained from organic compounds that can be degraded and recycled, new technologies through which products with better recyclability are achieved, different proposals for recycling plastic products and projects for new collection and selection systems for packaging and plastic products...

Getting sustainable plastic  packaging is a reality and is already possible, so the industry is already incorporating it into its products to give way to the demand of a society aware of the circular economy and recycling.

100% sustainable options, which maintain their performance, efficiency and versatility are already being implemented in various sectors: packaging, agriculture, textile industry, medicine, among others.

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Barrier packaging: Our commitment to plasma fluorination

At APS we are convinced that companies can act ethically, following current legislation, achieving their own economic development and improving the quality of life in our planet.

That is why we stand out in their support, manufacture with sustainable materials trying to cause the least environmental impact. Based on the latest technological innovations, keeping our essence and our specialty in providing barrier properties to plastic containers made to contain products from industrial sectors.

Thanks to the barrier in a plastic container, chemical products containing certain active formulas, that may generate gases inside the container, can be packed with guarantee.

At APS we became leaders in the manufacture of these barrier containers using multilayer coextrusion, but now, we move forward to be sustainable and our IDI project has led us to incorporate a new technology to our facilities in Valencia,  plasma fluorination. We get a barrier layer in a HDPE monolayer container which is also approved according to ADR (Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road). Therefore, we manage to achieve the manufacture of containers highly resistant to factors likely to modify or alter the composition of the product contained inside.

Plasma fluorination is the use of plasma to accelerate the process of coating the surface of the package by providing barrier properties to packaging that remains 100% recyclable by converting a monolayer HDPE container into a barrier container.

At Alcion Packaging Solutions we manufacture barrier packaging that provides the technical solution necessary to achieve a goal: to offer high quality packaging that guarantees the transport of goods, even those that are dangerous.

In this way, we continue to bet on the care of the environment, choosing plasma fluorination to solve the problems posed by direct fluoridation and work on the promotion of the circular and sustainable economy.

At Alcion Packaging Solutions we are faithful to our commitment to quality, safety and environmental sustainability. Get to know us!