We’ve told you a lot about how we operate and the different products that we produce, but there’s an essential part of what we do here at Western Industries that is rarely discussed – Recycling.
It’s so ingrained in how we operate that it’s easy to overlook, but we wanted to tell you more about recycling efforts in our industry, the packaging business.
For an industry like ours that uses so much material, there are a number of reasons why recycling makes sense. Reducing the consumption of resources, alleviating negative impacts from manufacturing, or simply limiting the amount of packaging waste we leave behind are all reasons we support a recycling program.
In the packaging industry, recycling is simply an extension of the responsible use of our raw materials. The mark of a good manufacturing process is that it doesn’t generate a lot of scrap, so from the very beginning we’re extremely conscious of responsibly using our resources.
As we move through the production flow of creating custom packaging, generating some amount of scrap is unavoidable, but we’re also able to deliver some of our cuttings back to the manufacturer for repurposing or recycling.
One example is when we chop down planks of polyethylene foam, the pieces we don’t use can still have a useful life. Depending on the condition of the material, the off-cut portions can be chopped up, heated, and reformed into a variety of different products like composite lumber, plastics, films used in industrial applications or back into more foam. This closed-loop process not only helps to keep costs down for us and for the manufacturers who supply the plastics, it also limits the resources used for the creation of virgin plastic products.
Consumer Recycling Helps us Get More Recycled Materials
On the consumer side, we’re sure you commonly wonder about the environmental cost of packaging each time a box or package shows up on your porch. Of all the recycling programs geared toward packaging materials that you can participate in, do you know which are the most effective?
As it turns out, when it comes to packaging, store drop-off programs are the most effective way to get plastic packaging materials back into the packaging-reclamation supply chain. There is a specific reason that these publicly available, consumer-fed collection systems work so well.
The reason is just the sheer number of them. Across the country there are more than 18,000 store drop-offs located at the entrance to Targets, Wal-Marts, and dozens of other major and minor retail chains.
Most of us usually just walk right on past these receptacles, but next time you see one, stop and take a look. Your grocery sacks and bubble wrap can be simply dropped off and an appropriate recycler comes and picks it up.
Once these flexible plastic films enter the recycling stream, they can be re-manufactured by wholesalers (like the companies we buy from) to create more packaging materials. Sometimes the recycled materials are made into grocery bags, composite lumber, building materials, Industrial-grade sheeting and agricultural liners. They’ll show up in a variety of places, from consumer products to industrial facilities. Most importantly, they won’t show up in a landfill or blowing across the landscape.
What Does the Future of Recycling Hold?
The packaging industry is always moving forward, driven especially by consumer demand. The changing mindset is going to keep the green sustainability movement in the public consciousness for years to come.
At Western Industries, we’ll keep pushing for new ways to reuse our materials, but as a manufacturer, we’ll also be working tirelessly to do less with more, eliminating the unnecessary use of resources throughout our processes.
If you’d like to see what your company could do to create more sustainable packaging, then contact us today and let us help you reimagine your supply chain.