Q: What does environmental impact mean?
A: Environmental impact means a lot of different things to different people, whether it’s climate change, plastic in the ocean, soil degradation or air quality. At TrakRap, we believe that climate change is the biggest threat to our world right now and we’re on a mission to massively reduce the cost and carbon footprint of packaging for FMCG manufacturers supply the major supermarkets.
Q: Surely plastic in the ocean is a massive issue and we should get rid of it?
A: There has been an enormous backlash following the Blue Planet programme with David Attenborough, where graphic images of animals tangled in plastic have horrified the public and rightly so. But we should be very clear that this is the issue – plastics should never be out in the environment because they don’t decompose. Plastics are, however, an incredibly useful material.
Q: What is a carbon footprint?
A: A carbon footprint is the way we calculate the amount of carbon that is created in the atmosphere by every product throughout its lifecycle. From its raw materials, to the way it’s manufactured, to the way it’s transported and used, and finally the way it’s disposed of. The carbon footprint a product has is directly linked to the rate of global warming and climate change – the higher the carbon footprint, the more impact it has.
Q: Which has a higher carbon footprint – cardboard or plastic?
A: Per gram, plastic has about a 5x higher carbon footprint than cardboard, but plastic is incredibly strong so you can use a lot less of it! For a typical supermarket pack, a cardboard box emits around 184Kg CO2e per 1,000 packs. If we remove the cardboard and replace it with traditional shrink wrap, this reduces to 53Kg CO2e per 1,000 packs. The TrakRap solution reduces this further still to 16Kg CO2e per 1,000 packs, and if we can get the film back to recycle, it reduces to 6Kg CO2e per 1,000 packs. That’s a massive 96% reduction.
Q: What’s the issue with plastic then?
A: Plastic has a lower carbon footprint than cardboard to do the same job. The issue with plastic is how we stop it getting out into the natural environment and recycle it instead. If we can resolve this, the benefits that plastic has in reducing carbon emissions and keeping food fresh, at very low cost issue, then plastic becomes an incredibly useful material.
Q: So, how do we stop plastic getting out into the natural environment?
A: On a wider scale this remains a big issue. A lot needs to be done with our recycling infrastructure to collect, segregate and recycle plastic. For Trakrap we are taking responsibility for our own plastic and ensuring is doesn’t get out into the environment. We are fortunate that nearly all of our film come off in the supermarket, so we can work with the supermarkets to ensure it never comes out of a “closed loop”.
Q: How are you stopping your plastic impacting on the environment?
A: Firstly, we’re reducing the amount of plastic used. Because we use cold wrap technology, we can use thin films that allow us to reduce the amount of plastic we use typically by around 70%. Secondly we are using a “Good Plastic”. Linear Low Density Polyethylene (LLDPE) can be recycled many times, ours is a particularly pure form of LLDPE, with long carbon chains C6 and C8 that is very valuable for recycling. Thirdly, we have created a bespoke slightly green colour, called “Greenrap” to our film so that colleagues removing it in store can easily identify it as “Good Plastic” that needs to be recycled. Fourthly and finally we are offering the Supermarkets a “Greensac” to put the film in and send back to us for free. So, simply put the “Greenrap” in the “Greensac” and return to “Trakrap” where it will be recycled many times.
Q: What help do you need?
A: We need supermarkets to start understanding that that getting rid of plastic may be more harmful than keeping it and that contributing to Climate Change by moving to plastic is a worse option than simply dealing with the issue and recycling plastic responsibly.