Packaging and other raw materials
On 16 January 2018, the European Union launched a new management strategy for certain disposable plastic products: the aim is to change the way in which products are designed, manufactured, used and recycled in European countries, creating new investment opportunities and new jobs. According to the new plans, all plastic packaging on the EU market will have to be recyclable by 2030, the use of disposable plastic bags will be reduced and the intentional use of microplastics will be limited.
Over the past fifty years, the role and importance of plastic in our economy has grown steadily. World production
of plastic has increased twentyfold since the 1960s, reaching 322 million tonnes in 2015, while annual consumption
of plastic in the European Union is around 49 million tonnes. In Europe, the potential for recycling
plastic waste remains largely untapped. Reusing and recycling of plastic at the end of its life remains very low,
particularly compared to other materials such as paper, glass or metals.
Every year about 25.8 million tonnes of plastic waste are generated in Europe. Less than 30% is collected for recycling. A significant proportion of the latter leaves the EU for processing in third countries, where different environmental standards may be applied.
At the same time, landfill and incineration rates for plastic waste remain high, at 31% and 39% respectively. Over the last ten years, the amount sent to landfill has decreased and incineration has increased.
Large quantities of plastic waste contaminate both land and marine environments, causing significant economic and environmental damage. Globally, 5 to 13 million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans every year. Plastics are estimated to account for over 80% of marine litter.
In the European Union, 150,000 to 500,000 tonnes of plastic waste enter the oceans every year. This represents a small percentage of global marine litter. However, plastic waste from European sources ends up in particularly vulnerable marine areas, such as the Mediterranean Sea and the Arctic Ocean. For these reasons Sofidel has decided to start reducing its consumption of plastic as packaging for items it places on the market. Since 2013, the share of plastic in the total weight of Sofidel paper products has decreased by around 15%, with a further reduction to 20% planned to take place by the end of 2020. Paper has recently been introduced as an alternative packaging material, as it is more widely recycled, comes from a renewable resource and, if accidentally dispersed in the environment, biodegrades in a few months.
Sofidel has anticipated these programmes, analysing packaging consumption for many years and launching and completing many projects to reduce the use of plastic materials: most of the items produced now have packaging with optimised thickness and innovative product lines without cardboard cores have been put on the market. In the coming months, packaging in renewable materials (such as Kraft paper or plastic produced from raw materials of vegetable origin) will be gradually introduced to replace oil-based plastic materials. In recent years, thanks to this strategy, consumption of packaging has shown a distinctly positive trend, confirmed once again in 2018, when a 14.6% reduction in usage intensity was recorded for plastic packaging and a 8% reduction for paper and cardboard packaging compared to 2013.
Consumption of packaging* - 2018 and 2013* Data extracted using ERP software.
Finally, to give a complete picture of the flows of raw materials used, the other categories are shown in the table below.
|OTHER RAW MATERIALS*||t|
|Reels of tissue paper acquired outside the Group||84,103|
|Oils and lubricants||268|
In 2018, the contribution of recycled raw materials was 162,396 tonnes, i.e. 12.5% of the total13; the total of the raw materials obtained from renewable sources was 1,239,393 tonnes, corresponding to 95.5% of the total.
13. The total is calculated on the consumption of the materials listed plus the total of the recycled (virgin purchased) fibre.