The importance of responsible use of plastic

An interview with Robert Nyberg, Fluid-Bag's Operations Manager and environmental officer

Plastic – the greatest environmental villain, or the world's best material? 

Robert Nyberg: Operations Manager Fluid-Bag”If you ask me, plastic is the world's best material. We just need to find the right, effective structures for plastic recycling.” Robert Nyberg, Operations Manager and environmental officer

How do you view plastic from an environmental perspective?

–The recycling of plastic is something we focus on constantly, and an area in which we want to streamline our processes even more. I don't think there's a better material than plastic, it just needs to be managed correctly. Even though we are only a small local player from a global perspective, we also have a responsibility to manage, sort and recycle plastic as best we can.

–Our Fluid-Bag products are an example of how innovation, a new way of thinking and focus on efficiency can reduce transportation needs and fuel consumption and produce less waste. Plastic is actually an environmentally friendly material in that it can be reused and regranulated at least 10 times, and can then still be recycled as energy.

What does ISO 14001 environmental certification mean to Fluid-Bag in concrete terms?

–Since 2000 we have focused on working on the basis of our environmental plan, with the aim of reducing the amount of plastic per container. During the period 2008 - 2018, we managed to reduce the amount of plastic by 19%. This has been possible thanks to the use of thinner, more modern plastic film from our suppliers, along with our continual focus on reducing the amount of waste product produced during the production process with regard to aluminium foil, plastic and packaging material.

All plastic waste is sorted and sent to Suomen Käyttömuovi for recycling, where it is converted for use in the production of products such as drainpipes, flowerpots and energy.

–We are also focused on reducing our energy consumption, and we have installed LED lighting throughout our industrial property. Since we renovated the factory in Jakobstad, we have managed to reduce our heating costs by 52%.

–To ensure that environmental aspects are considered throughout the supply chain, we also require our suppliers and freight forwarders to have their own environmental programmes, and to undertake to achieve continuous improvement in relation to environmental issues.

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Magnus Östman, warehouse worker at Fluid-Bag, shows how all plastic waste is sorted and packed together to form plastic bales, which are then sent for recycling.

What principles are applied when selecting the plastics that are used for the Fluid-Bag products?

–One of our guiding principles is to use materials that are produced locally. The majority of the plastics we use come from Schur Flexibles here in Jakobstad and from Rani Plast in Terjärv. We are a family-owned company, and we care about creating job opportunities and contributing to sound business here in the local region.

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All of the plastic we use is recyclable, and because our packaging is also used for food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, we use plastics that are approved for use with food, Robert Nyberg explains.

Our Fluid-Bag containers contribute to

… greener transport

Since Fluid-Bags are made from soft plastic and can be folded up when they are empty, they can be packaged so efficiently that we are able to deliver 20,000 litres of packaging material on just two pallets. Steel barrels and other rigid containers occupy up to 10 times more space. Another benefit associated with our Fluid-Bags is that no return transportation of empty containers is required. Plastic is also much lighter than materials such as glass and metal, which means that you save fuel when transporting products packaged in plastic.

...reduced amounts of packaging plastic

A 1,000 litre Fluid-Bag only contains 5-6 kg of plastic, whereas a typical rigid 1,000 litre IBC consists of about 30 kg of plastic. The difference is even greater if we compare the same Fluid-Bag with 200 litre plastic barrels, for which as much as 50 kg of plastic is required per 1,000 litres.

... less waste product

Since Fluid-Bag is flexible, it is possible to squeeze out more or less the entire contents. Fluid-Bag is an unbeatable solution for viscous products, with as little as 0.5% of residue remaining after discharge. Other packaging systems will typically leave behind 3–4% of residue. Fluid-Bag enables the customer to use the packaged food, glue, grease or ointment down to the very last drop, with no need to waste any perfectly good product.

Plastic is hygienic, and good packaging solutions in plastic provide effective protection for water and food. Fluid-Bag is a member of FAO's ”Save Food Initiative”, which strives to reduce food waste in the world through various measures, including the use of smart packaging solutions.