Company News

Plastic Waste: Tackling the Problem at the Supply End

The issue of irresponsible plastic disposal has been highlighted by the media more than ever over recent years. Plastic is definitely seen as the bad guy of the packaging world, with its negative effects on the health of the planet and its inhabitants. Images of marine life entangled in discarded waste plastics are commonplace now.

Nobody wants to see plastic in our rivers and oceans, so more must be done to minimise the use of virgin plastic in the first place and also capture it after it has served its useful purpose. We should be recycling as much as possible, keeping it in the economy and preventing leakage through poor waste management systems.

There have been recent news articles about plastic waste and how individuals and businesses can do more, but most don’t. Some coffee chains still haven’t found a replacement for the non-recyclable plastic lids. Offering a discount for customers who use a re-usable cup (bought from them) isn’t enough for campaigners.

On the high street, a significant reduction in the use of single use plastic carrier bags has been achieved following the introduction of a plastic bag charge. At the peak, 13 billion single use plastic carrier bags were given out in the UK each year, but through a combination of voluntary initiatives by the plastics industry, reusable bags for life, and the introduction of a carrier bag tax, the number given out by retailers has reduced to 1.75 billion in 2017-18.

Nevertheless, despite attempts to reduce, reuse, and recycle plastic, the use of plastic in the UK and much of Western Europe is still growing at around 4% each year.

The answer may not lie just in end of life options like recycling though. Just like the multi-use cups initiative, the plastic tax, and the bag for life push, the obvious place to look for improvement is in the way our products are packaged and delivered to us in the first place. 

Many food manufacturers have been criticised for their overly packaged products, and households putting them out for recycling is becoming a bigger problem that many say should be shrinking, not growing.

 

Starting at the root of the supply chain makes more sense.

At Admiral we take our responsibility in the supply chain seriously and we’re looking at all options to minimise the amount of plastic (packaging) we put on the market. It’s not a simple issue, as most alternatives are heavier and may actually cause more harm to the environment due to the production of greenhouse gases associated with the higher use of energy through their production and value chain.

 

Paper straws

One area that campaigners are keen to push back on is the volume of plastic straws that are shipped and distributed each year. It’s estimated that around 8.5 billion plastic straws are thrown away each year. Through its recent consultation, the UK government is considering legislating for bans or taxes on the use of plastic straws, stirrers, and buds. https://consult.defra.gov.uk/waste-and-recycling/plastic-straws-stirrers-and-buds/.

Admiral support such measures and look to offering alternatives wherever possible. For example, we’re now supplying paper straws over the plastic alternative in our bid to make the best efforts possible to be more environmentally conscious in our supply. We hope this will encourage more people to pay attention to the plastic issue.

Avoiding unnecessary waste, and maximising recycling of valuable materials is key to reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill.  Admiral are pleased to partner with waste management experts http://cromwellpolythene.co.uk/ for the supply of their waste and recycling sacks manufactured from high content recycled materials (typically 30-100%). As well as the traditional black sacks for residual waste, made from 97% recycled polythene, a range of colours and clear sacks are available for separate collection of recyclable waste streams, and compostable sacks and liners for food waste.

 

Shrinking the waste problem

One area we’re very keen to help improve from a supply chain perspective is the amount of plastic stretch wrap used to cover pallet shipments. Although 100% recyclable, this can be an issue for anyone receiving many pallet deliveries, where restriction on space does not allow for the storage of recyclables to make economic collection viable.

That’s why we’ve recently invested £15,000 in an improved stretch wrap system to reduce the amount of plastic we use to protect goods in our supply chain.  The combination of technically superior stretch wrap films, and the new state of the art pallet wrapping machine means we now use 50% less stretch wrap on all pallet delivered. Our Masterline 710p Power Stretch Machine is just a small step in our commitment to reducing plastic waste.

 

Stopping the problem early on

Plastic waste is a big problem and one we’re taking seriously. We feel the responsibility just as many suppliers should and we’re looking to source supplies from more companies with a keen eye on the impact we’re all having on the world.

The problem shouldn’t just be left to end users, who we’re aware are taking many fantastic initiatives. We’ve spoken to customers who are actively trying to use Tupperware rather than single-use plastics, avoiding plastic bottles, swapping to paper stemmed cotton buds, avoiding products with microbeads, and taking multi-use bags when going shopping.

Asking buyers to recycle as much as possible is fine but the burden of this global problem should not rest with them. Industries need to take more responsibility and make every effort to minimise the use of virgin plastic by using technical lightweight materials like our stretch wrap and specifying products with high recycled content.

Through Wraps Plastic Pact 2025, the UK Plastics industry is working hard with government retailers, and the whole value chain, to prevent all avoidable packaging waste going to landfill, reducing the amount of virgin plastic used, and increasing the amount of recycled plastic in all packaging. For information and guidance about packaging, design for reuse, recycling, and end of life disposal, please go to http://www.wrap.org.uk/category/materials-and-products/plastics

For more information on recycling of all materials, go to http://www.wrap.org.uk/collections-and-reprocessing/collections-and-sorting/kerbside-collections/reports/recycling-guidelines

Testimonials

Admiral are excellent. We benchmark their performance on price, flexibility, delivery times, contract support and quality of product. Various products and new technologies are aimed at improving efficiency and infection control enhancements. These includes a microfiber cleaning solution, investigation into robotic cleaning machinery and efficient cleaning machinery. - Mike Mackay, Serco PLC

Thanks to Admiral’s engagement and in-depth audit, we now have a clear vision for delivering a high-quality standard throughout all our buildings. In addition, we stand to meet environmental objectives by achieving a reduction in consumption and waste. - Steve Ford, Campus Services Manager (Regents St & NCS sites)  

The team at Admiral have continually demonstrated an understanding of the Travelodge’s brand requirements and our hotel operations know that they can rely on Admiral to deliver and support them every day. They have a welcome, collaborative approach to working with us in maintaining hotel standards, allowing us to retain our position as the hotel brand of choice to our guests - Lewis Greenall, Travelodge

I have been working with Admiral for the past 8 years. My personal experience has been outstanding. Cleaning is one of the key services we are measured on, Admiral were the instigators for the introduction of microfiber at NNUH . This has enabled them to achieve PEAT green excellent results, the highest ranking possible for NHS sites. Admiral are a corporate brand with very local values. Very focused on individual needs, proactive and innovative in their approach, supportive in their training methods and mobilisation, very flexible with their approach as the NHS is consistently changing. - Nayab Haider - Norfolk and Norwich Hospital

 

It helps us massively to know when the products are arriving. Facility cleanliness is the first customer complaint we receive so a prompt delivery service is very much appreciated; thanks. - Phil Hart, Hood Park Leisure Centre