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Impact on resource use

The winner of this year’s National Recycling Award for Waste Minimisation was Nampak Plastics. Andrea Lockerbie looks at why

Nampak Plastics manufactures around two billion high density polyethylene (HDPE) milk bottles every year. This helps put into context the impact its redesigned Infini milk bottle, which uses up to 25% less material than a standard milk bottle, has on resource use.

This was recognised by the judges, who said: “In the context of plastic recycling, we are putting this up as the best. It has a huge impact, even though it seems like a small thing. For mainstream waste prevention and technical achievement this is great. This organisation has set a whole new benchmark.”

Nampak has committed itself to creating innovative, lightweight packaging solutions and ensuring its staff understand how its manufacturing processes impact on the environment.

Every year in the UK, three billion plastic milk bottles are purchased, making it the most widely used item of packaging in the country. After a four-year design process, in 2012 Nampak launched its Infini milk bottle. This uses up to 25% less material than a standard bottle, which equates to annual savings of 16,000 tonnes of material and 34,000 tonnes of carbon. As well as using less material, it also uses 15% recycled content (rHDPE), with the expectation that this will increase to 30% rHDPE.

“This is a superb team result, the guys have worked really hard on delivering recycled plastics into our Infini milk bottle and we are all extremely pleased at winning this award.”

Jamie Tinsley, commercial director, Nampak Plastics

Key to achieving goals in areas such as light-weighting has been the company’s working practices. Since implementation of the ISO14001 environmental management system, it has made savings on consumption of energy and materials, reduced the cost of waste management and put in place a framework for continuous improvement. Its environmental policy is supported by an ‘Aspects and Impacts’ register, used to trace and assess each area of improvement.

In September 2012, Nampak also became a ‘zero waste to landfill’ operation following a company-wide recycling and waste management drive. This was achieved after the company appointed Carbon Champions at each of its nine sites, responsible for ensuring recycling and waste management best practice was adhered to on a daily basis. It has also tasked its sites to reduce their energy use by 7.5% year on year, which they are on track to do.

Staff training and engagement has been integral to its achievements. This includes a scheme that rewards staff who suggest ideas to drive environmental improvement, which has led to new initiatives such as scanning in the warehouse to improve accuracy and traceability, and improving air conditioning systems.

Nampak also works closely with its dairy customers, recommending an ‘in-plant’ arrangement whereby its milk bottle manufacturing plant is situated next to the bottle filler, cutting out the transport of empty bottles and associated carbon emissions.

 

Category Finalists

  • Balfour Beatty Ground Engineering
  • Freegle Brighton
  • OiLChef c/o EcoFriendly4U
  • Oxfordshire County Council
  • Plastic Surgeon

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