Give plastics the credit it deserves

Until recently plastic packaging has been perceived almost exclusively as waste. Despite the ecological advantages of using plastic over other materials, the big plastic debate focused little on the benefits of use. Instead we were overwhelmed with stories of how single-use plastics were damaging to the environment.

Now, as we find ourselves amidst the coronavirus pandemic – the biggest global crisis since World War Two, the perception of plastic is changing. People are opening their eyes and seeing plastic products in a new, positive light. Here, Jim Hardisty, Managing Director of Goplasticpallets.com – the Responsible Plastic Pallet Company, explains why plastic should be given the credit it deserves.

It is sad to think that it has taken a global pandemic to demonstrate the vital importance of plastic products. Single-use plastics, in particular, are of the utmost importance right now – in hospitals and other healthcare settings they can literally mean the difference between life and death. IV bags and ventilator machines both have components made from single-use plastics and our healthcare workers are dressed almost entirely in plastic from their gowns and masks to their gloves. Even the equipment they use – syringes, drips and examination tools – will involve moulded or extruded plastic, and each of these products has a dramatic effect on infection control.

Outside of the healthcare setting, plastic plays a vital role in protecting our food and keeping it fresh, therefore reducing contamination and waste. We are seeing single-use plastic bags, once considered as a top plastic polluter, being used again with renewed confidence as a sanitary and convenient way to carry our groceries. Government’s delay in banning plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds announced several weeks ago, is also an acknowledgement of the important role of plastic products.

Supporting essential supply chains

Of course, it is not just single-use plastics that are proving vital in the fight against coronavirus. We have experienced a surge in demand from the food and pharmaceutical industries for our reusable plastic pallets since the Covid-19 outbreak. In these challenging times, we know our customers need our support more than ever, especially those that are supplying the essential food and medicines to replenish the shelves of our supermarkets and pharmacies.

The European Commission has made it very clear that while protecting the health of our citizens we must also ensure that they still have access to essential goods, demand for which continues to be incredibly high. This is why we are continuing to work at Goplasticpallets.com, in adherence with Government advice, to help keep our essential supply chains moving.

Whilst our sales force has spent the last month adapting to a new working environment at home, we have kept a small team going at our head office, to ensure our warehouse operatives, the drivers of our forklifts and lorries, and our sales team working remotely have the admin support they need to meet our customers understandably demanding delivery schedules. Currently we have over 72,000 plastic pallets, pallet boxes and small boxes in stock – and all ready for immediate, next day delivery.

Plastic pallets keeping up the supply

We have immense respect for those manufacturers that are diversifying production output to meet the significant demand for ventilators and other much needed products by the NHS. Especially the F1 teams, who we had the honour to work with previously, who have been helping build a new breathing aid for Covid-19 patients. Several of our pharmaceutical customers too are amongst those teaming up to rapidly develop and roll out millions of coronavirus tests as part of the government's 5-pillar national testing strategy to identify if people have the virus.

Just a couple of customers we are supporting at this challenging time include a manufacturer of ventilators, who is using our GoTripBox 1208 Ultimate to ensure the timely distribution of these essential devices to hospitals throughout the UK. We have also had increased demand for various colour combinations of our Attached Lid Containers for the distribution of ‘test kits’, since these strong and durable containers are ideal for transporting products that need the added security of a fixed lid.

In turn, we have been overwhelmed by the thanks we have received from customers in the last month. In a heartfelt letter, one customer, who supplies essential ingredients for medical capsules and patient recovery foods, commended our 'courage' and 'hard work' for 'keeping up the supply', so they can continue to produce in these trying times.

Be prepared for the Plastic Packaging Tax

Although single-use plastic products are currently basking in the limelight, once we have navigated our way through the coronavirus crisis, the tides will likely turn and once again the focus will be on limiting its use.

With this in mind, we must not forget about the new Plastic Packaging Tax due to come into effect from April 2022, which is designed to increase the use of recycled plastic in packaging by 40% – equal to carbon savings of nearly 200,000 tonnes, according to one government report. This levy means that manufacturers and importers whose products have less than 30% recyclable material will be charged £200 per tonne.

In the coming year, businesses will need to think more carefully about choosing their plastic suppliers to ensure they choose those whose products are made predominantly or exclusively from reusable plastics to avoid unnecessary charges.

In terms of our products at Goplasticpallets.com, 96% of our plastic pallets are made entirely from recycled material and at the end of their long working life, the plastic can be reground to make the next generation of new, sustainable plastic pallets. Using our plastic pallets can help companies looking to incorporate the principles of circular economy into their operations, ensuring less waste ends up in landfill. Our pioneering plastic pallet recycling scheme also means that we guarantee to help customers recycle the plastic pallets and boxes we supply when they have come to the end of their working use or are no longer needed.

As the situation in the UK changes daily, we are keeping our customers informed of any changes we are making. But for now, we will continue to work to keep our essential supply chains moving and championing plastics. It is a phenomenal material when used and disposed of responsibly!

For expert advice, call the UK plastic pallet experts on 01323 744057 or email [email protected]