Leading the way in the plastics revolution
PUBLISHED: 17:48 25 February 2019
The BBC TV series The Blue Planet highlighted the problem of plastic pollution, and the need for change. One Suffolk business set out on that path as far back as 2011.
Many businesses are now re-thinking how and when they use plastic.
Back in 2011 the Framlingham based vehicle aerodynamics specialist Hatcher Components used 23.4 tonnes of plastic to protect air kits being dispatched to its customers, but by 2018 it was just 7.25 tonnes.
Realising the amount of material used in the dispatch of goods the company set a goal of reducing plastic use by two thirds.
No time limit was set just the aim of getting there.
Works manager Neil Smith says the company is now ‘greener and leaner’.
Now Mr Smith has set the goal to eliminate plastic completely.
It is an ambitious target given the need to protect finished products.
He said: “We’re looking to produce products to an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) finish, which is important as many of our customers are extremely brand conscious and place high value on how their vehicles look. So we have to protect products during transportation – and of course with air kits you don’t want scratches or dents interfering with airflow. But we’ve been able to do this and reduce our packaging use too.”
As new lightweight plastic technology has evolved so Hatcher has embraced it but the biggest gain has come through a redesign of pallets.
“We have designers and engineers onsite so gave them the task of coming up with something. Now we no longer need plastics to help secure product to pallet. We developed a cleat system that locks items into place,” he says.
The other benefit has been raw material savings, he said.
He sees it as a ‘win win win’ situation.
“The logistics sector remains highly competitive and for any fleet cost is an important factor, whether it is the purchase of the vehicle itself or whilst on the road. But our clients don’t want to compromise on quality either.
“Cutting our packaging use has reduced our environmental impact and delivered material savings - savings that help us keep pricing competitive without any compromise in quality.
“It is very difficult, given the need to protect our products. They travel a lot of road miles, some as far as Scotland.
“It is a bit target for us, but we are gettng there.”