Working together to make sustainable changes for the future of our environments
As a plastics business, we feel particularly keenly both the challenge and the responsibility to be as sustainable as possible. “We’ve owned it,” says General Manager Ian Baines. “In everything we do, we’re constantly asking ourselves questions: ‘How can we recycle this? How can we reuse it or dispose of it in a way that’s not going to impact the environment?’.” In 2021, we saved 42 tonnes of waste going to landfill – roughly the weight of an unloaded Airbus A320.
"We want to lead the industry in a really positive way – to reduce our waste to landfill, to innovate in better ways to package our product, and to uphold our social responsibility. We’re inspired to initiate change and create progress that makes these choices more accessible for all." - Mikayla Plaw, Executive Director, Sustainability for Profile Group"
- Mikayla Plaw, Executive Director, Sustainability for Profile Group
Every bit helps
Our work to be more sustainable encompasses every aspect of the operation. Our award-winning, Jasmax-designed building, for instance, incorporates energy conservation features such as a double-skin façade and underground earth tube technology, and our state-of-the-art extrusion machinery from Europe is similarly energy efficient. At the other end of the scale, we provide staff with reusable drink bottles and sustainable notepads and pens, we laminate important documents to avoid reprints, and we’ve established a worm farm for food scraps. Working with our supplier, we also now return all the label backing paper used in our factory to be shredded and reused as packing paper.
Finding partners to achieve a common vision
The war on waste at PPL is being fought on many fronts. Take clear plastic, for example. Our raw materials typically arrive in clear plastic bags, stacked on pallets swaddled in plastic wrap. After partnering with plastic waste recyclers, we now send all that waste to be reprocessed and recycled. As well, dedicated on-site compacting machines allow us to tightly package plastics, eliminating unnecessary freight trips and saving 950kg of clear bags from landfill every year.
Closing the loop
We’ve also taken a more sustainable approach to the coils on which we supply some products. In the past, we used more than 16,000kg of cardboard every year for these coils. In 2020, we switched to using PPL-made plastic coils that can be commercially recycled, and we invested in a coil return scheme. Undamaged coils sent to our Hamilton or Christchurch warehouses can now be incorporated into future production runs, while anything damaged gets ground back into pellets for injection moulding new coils.
Every time you start or shut down an extrusion machine, there’s a brief period when unusable product accumulates. But it doesn’t have to be wasted. Using dedicated onsite grinding machines, we transform this unusable material into a pelletized state for use on non-critical items. Result? Every year, we divert 12,000kg of material from landfill. And for reground material that simply can’t be incorporated, we’ve found a sustainable alternative: it gets used for playground, gym and industrial mats, diverting a further 6000kg.
Raw material bags
Before we started our Sustainability programme, around half of our landfill skip consisted of waste from raw material bags.
Recycling label backing
The use of product labels is an important part of our production – for product identification. However, with every sticker label that is used, there is also a lot of waste from the label backing.
Closing the loop on waste
We’ve introduced a series of day-to-day sustainability initiatives aimed at circulating high value materials, innovating new solutions and designing out waste and emissions across the business.
From bin to the gym
During the start-up and shutdown of machines, there is a window of unusable product that is accumulated. Using dedicated on-site grinding machines we transform it back into pelletised material.