Alternative enviro solutions are brilliant … but will almost certainly cost you more

WE LIVE in challenging and interesting times to say the least… and now it’s becoming complicated too, very complicated actually.

But as they say, there’s nothing like a new injury to help forget about the old one(s). Such is the stuff that convertors have to deal with (and mind you, all the suppliers too) that now, besides having to manage increased VAT, incredibly little support from government, BEE and transformation, unions and so on, we are now also being told that, actually, our products are not a good environmental solution. I don’t know about you, but just lately I’ve got into some heated arguments about the merits of plastic products. Some well educated people have even suggested that plastic bags be banned immediately, like the end of this month. To be honest, it hasn’t been that great … but I’ve been keeping my side up and reminding people of the many advantages created by polymer solutions.

The criticism levelled at the industry globally is not unjust, but the development of the many plastic product solutions now in place has evolved over the decades in partnership with brand companies and virtually every other sector, be it in transport, medical, mining, agriculture, IT, cosmetic and millions of other applications and making changes overnight is impossible. Another point frequently raised is that of ‘too much packaging,’ whereas I have yet to see any convertor or brand company using too much packaging – it’s just too expensive.

Okay, let’s accept that many of the environmentalists are firebrands, but we’d be naïve to think the problem will go away (which some of the top guys think will happen) and as a result we’ll need to develop alternative solutions … which is the main thrust of this issue. This refers particularly to the flexibles sector, as film and bags are the main contaminants globally. But let’s be fair to the guys, their packaging solutions are very suitable and achieve all the required criteria … but floating around the oceans is giving us a bad rep.

In this issue we bring you a bunch of articles about alternative materials developments, most of which are very attractive … but with the only certainty is that these solutions will cost you more. Bearing in mind that the majority of consumers are probably going to continue doing almost exactly as they have, one will need to be very careful when making changes.

Most if not all of us are committed to keeping plastics litter to an absolute minimum, so maybe you can diarise events lined up for the Coastal Clean-up 2018, with the main day being Saturday 8 September. Get out there and do something good on that day, please!

You will probably find that the problem on South Africa’s beaches is not quite as bad as is being widely reported, but we still need to come up with solutions to keep the enviro lobby at arms’ reach.


Martin Wells, Publisher


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