The Leaf: Issue 7 November 2021 - Turning OCEAN PLASTIC into vital components – How Drayton are REDUCING VIRGIN PLASTIC
At Drayton, we’ve reduced our single use plastics by 50% in just 2 years. As part of our holistic approach to improving our sustainability, it’s not just about reducing the plastic we use; when we have no choice but to use a single use plastic in our supply chain, we recognise the importance of improving the source of that plastic.
Read more topics at Wiser about Sustainability
Within the last couple of months, Drayton’s manufacturing team completed an exciting new trial, turning ocean plastic that endangered marine life into an essential component of our supply chain, one we need to use every day.
Working with our good friends at Fathoms Free, a marine conservation charity with a dedicated team of volunteer divers based in the South West and chaired by Drayton Electromechanics Engineer John Kent, we utilised plastics recycled from ghost fishing nets. These plastics were recovered from the seas around Devon and Cornwall and moulded into a protective cap, that covers delicate components of our SP3 product on its journey to the customer.
After recovery, the plastics were sent to Odyssey Innovation in Newquay to be broken down to its recyclable parts, then on to Plastix to be converted into pellets. The pellets arrived back to our Plymouth factory for moulding into the protective caps, made from 100% recycled ocean plastic.
Previously, the cap was made from virgin plastics, but following the success of the trial and once our existing resin stock has been used, production of this protective cap will switch to use 100% recycled ocean plastic – removed from local coasts by Fathoms Free – by late 2022.
Project Manager for Sustainbility at Drayton, Debie Robinson, had this to say of the project:
“Plymouth manufacturing facility are very engaged to ‘make a difference’, we continually look for ways to reduce our waste and incorporate eco-friendly materials where appropriate into our products.
“This protective cap has been produced from ‘ghost nets’ – in an ideal world these nets shouldn’t be laying on the bottom of our oceans, but they are, and that’s unlikely to change in the short term. In the meantime, we can play our part by supporting the removal of these plastics from the ocean and incorporating them into our products where we can.
“Changing to eco-friendly materials isn’t always a quick fix – we have to maintain the integrity and safety of our products – but we see this as a small but sure step towards our long term sustainability goals.”
- Debie Robinson, Project Manager - Sustainability
By reducing reliance on new plastics and instead putting discarded materials to good use, we can reduce the harmful effects caused by their manufacture, reduce the amount that’s subsequently gets discarded, and help drive removal of plastics from natural environments.
What about the plastic housings of our products? Can’t we use ocean plastic here too?
With strict safety standards in place relating to the plastic housing of our electrical products, it’s not currently possible for us to manufacture electrical product housing from recycled ocean plastic. However, the trial’s success means that we can still reduce our reliance on virgin plastic and further contribute to the circular economy.
We’re also exploring options for the dozens of plastic resins used onsite to lessen their impact on their environment, as well as the possibility of using eco resins produced via biomass processes.
Drayton is committed to reducing and improving our plastic use
Drayton have been innovating and manufacturing for over 70 years, and it’s fresh ideas like these that continue to drive us forward, working to tackle the largest threat this world has seen in our history and manufacture solutions right here in our factory in the South West. Every component matters on the path to a more sustainable future.
What can we do at home?
Have you found any new ways to reuse or recycle plastic at home? Here are Drayton’s 10 tips to help reduce your household’s reliance on new plastics and ways to contribute to the circular economy:
- 1. Look for products made from alternatives to plastic – Plant-based materials like wood, bamboo and sugarcane by-products are great alternatives to plastic for many products, being strong, sturdy and breaking down more quickly and naturally at the end of their life.
- 2. Look for products made of recycled plastics – These may be fully or only partially made from recycled materials, and the packaging may give you more information.
- 3. Consider used items before buying new – Is it something you can purchase second-hand instead? Not only are you contributing to a circular economy and reducing demand for new plastic, it’s usually significantly cheaper to buy second-hand.
- 4. Repair rather than replace – By repairing your products where you can, you can extend their lifespan and reduce both wastage and demand for more new plastic. You may find videos online to help with a particular repair, or repair cafes popping up across the UK.
- 5. Know where you can recycle your plastics – Many supermarket branches now have recycling bins for soft plastics, like carrier bags, produce and bread bags which can make up a large proportion of household waste.
- 6. Wash plastics before recycling – Food stuck to plastics can cause an entire batch of plastics to be rejected at the recycling plant due to contamination, undoing the hard work done by you and your neighbours, so always clean off food, dirt and other contaminants.
- 7. For disposable items, find reusable alternatives – There’s a huge array of reusable products now on the market, including coffee cups, water bottles, washable wipes, food wraps, nappies, health and beauty products, and more.
- 8. Choose eco-friendly packaging – More manufacturers are reducing and eliminating plastic in their packaging, opting for cardboard and other plastic-free alternatives. Think of your buying decision as casting a vote for the world you want to live in,
- 9. Or products with NO packaging! – Visit your nearest refill store with your own containers to pick up many everyday goods like dry food items, soap, shampoo, detergent and more.
- 10. Beware of greenwashing – Eco-friendly solutions are increasing in demand, and less scrupulous retailers are taking advantage without necessarily improving their practices, so be wary of vague claims of eco-friendliness that aren’t backed up.
World Soil Day – 5th December
This annual awareness day, run by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), aims to raise awareness of the importance of soil quality for human well-being, food security and ecosystems.
Soil is made up of organic and inorganic matter, air and water, and the mixture depends on the way the soil is managed or neglected, which in turn impacts on how plants grow. The human race is dependent on soil for food, but soil erosion and pollution leads to famine. Soil also stores significant amounts of carbon, which is lost through erosion which in turn contributes to climate change.
International Volunteer Day – 5th December
On the same day, the world also marks an international day celebrating the power and potential of volunteering, created by the UN. Together with people and NGOs across the world, employees at Schneider Electric will be encouraged and supported to join in volunteering activities, whether they join a local group event, or choose to make an impact by themselves.
Read more topics at Wiser about Sustainability
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