Plastic is one of the most serious problems of the 21st century. This is not due to the raw materials or production processes, but to the fact that 32% of plastic packaging worldwide is not recovered (whether by landfill, incineration, or recycling). They end up uncontrolled in the environment. A complete decomposition of plastics takes several centuries. Previously, plastic merely disintegrated into ever smaller particles, which ultimately find their way into the human body via the food chain — the keyword being microplastics. The best strategy to combat plastic waste, including in the oceans, is undeniably to avoid plastic products and to replace them with 100% biodegradable alternatives made from renewable raw materials: e.g. paper.
IDS Imaging Development Systems GmbH from the Swabian town of Obersulm has taken up this topic. The industrial camera manufacturer’s shipping department uses only paper instead of plastic. First of all, fillers for cartons were converted from bubble wrap to paper. A specially purchased packaging machine produces creped filling material in the desired length from normal, smooth paper layers. Even delivery note envelopes can only be found in the dispatch department in paper form. An alternative to plastic adhesive tape is currently being tested in order to feed shipping cartons into the recycling cycle largely free of plastic. “These measures have already enabled us to replace 95 % of the original plastic materials in the logistics/shipping area,” reports IDS Logistics Manager Kai Schrödter.
But it is not only plastic-free shipping that plays a role for the camera manufacturer. The topic of recycling is also very important. “For example, we reuse all fillers we receive from customers instead of simply throwing them away,” explains Schrödter and adds “In the future, all used cardboard boxes will also be pressed into bales directly at our premises and then used to produce new recycled cartons”. In this way, IDS makes an economic contribution to sustainability. In addition, the company makes sure that all paper materials used in shipping are already purchased as recycled products.
“This has already enabled us to save a considerable amount of plastic waste for our customers in 2019. In 2020, this is likely to rise even further,” explains Sebastian Liepe – Head of IDS Quality Assurance. At the same time, the intelligent use of raw materials alone increases the profitability of the entire packaging sector.
In the near future, the industrial camera manufacturer is planning further measures to conserve resources, such as CO2-neutral shipping. Switching to a shipping service provider that relies on electric mobility on the road directly avoids CO2 emissions. If goods have to be shipped to other countries by air, newly created green spaces, for example, provide the necessary compensation. A further project already underway is the introduction of shuttle packaging, which allows shipping free of disposable packaging. On the initiative of IDS, these containers are utilized wherever suppliers or customers receive or ship large quantities of products – each in the same individually configurable boxes. In addition, exchangeable load carriers avoid returns of empty containers and help to use the resource of transport as sparingly as possible.
IDS is convinced that the changeover to sustainable action is the only right way forward and tries to develop resource-saving solutions together with business partners. After all, relatively “small” changes can make a big difference — for the environment and for the company itself.
IDS Imaging Development Systems