Chain Parties Can Achieve Sustainability Goals Together

Results from benchmark research

Sustainable business. Circular Economy. Smart Industry. Especially for a company in plastic injection molding such as GL Plastics, these are pressing issues. However, it is true that for many organizations. After all, the Raw Materials Agreement agreed that the society must be fully circular by 2050 and that we are going to ensure that we be halfway there by 2030. That this requires a fundamental transition is certain, but how do organizations address this?

According to Emmo Meijer, figurehead of the Top Sector Chemicals, if the industry wants to become truly circular, we must look at how products from the chemical industry, such as plastics, can be recycled. In this context, Meijer argues that industry collaboration is necessary to achieve the goals. 1 This interesting proposition has GL Plastics
The European Commission seized the opportunity to set up a benchmark study in collaboration with commercial market research agency The Blue Hour. The study was conducted among homogeneous respondents and provides insight into the issue of what concrete actions the industry can take to produce (collectively) sustainably.

Working together on sustainability

The fact that cooperation is necessary to make the chain more sustainable is also demonstrated by the fact that 70% of the respondents indicated that products often consisted partly of semi-finished products from external parties. 60% indicates that the sustainability aspect is shifted to suppliers as much as possible. GL Plastics, as a producer of technical semi-finished products, can also endorse this trend and is not alone in doing so. 67%, for example, indicates that it is experiencing an increase in this respect.

The beginning seems to be there

Looking at the outcome of the benchmark survey, it appears that the doors to collaboration on sustainability are indeed open, as many organizations have it high on their agenda. As many as 86% say they want to invest in making their own processes more sustainable. Sustainability is important to organizations, as evidenced by the average rating of 7.3. The first steps are therefore being made. 40% says it is undergoing a transformation to produce as sustainably as possible. However, in 27%'s case, this is only possible with new products or projects. When new business is set up, sustainability does come first for 59%.

Quick solution: reduce waste production

Nevertheless, the sustainability aspect is being pushed out in terms of the most important aspects when procuring and producing semi-finished products. Quality, delivery reliability and costs form the top three, after which sustainability follows in fourth place. For now, it seems that the most important battle can be won by tackling errors in the production process. In 59% of the cases, this is the reason that (semi) manufactured products are discarded. Organizations are aware of this; 93% is committed to reducing waste production.

GL Plastics also recognizes itself in this. One of the spearheads in the field of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is reducing material. One of the ways in which this is achieved is by collecting the raw materials in the event of production failure and reusing them together with virgin material.

The future

Exactly what the future will look like, no one knows. Research does show that the use of rubber and plastic products will continue to rise in the coming years.2 So in addition to using renewable electricity, switching to green hydrocarbons and saying goodbye to fossil raw materials, we should certainly also look at recycling plastics and replacing oil with bio-based raw materials in the production process.

The benchmark study shows that 63% of the participating respondents now indicate that their products are recyclable. The bio-based plastics and biodegradable products still lag behind, with almost 10% and 2.2% respectively. It is possible that this will change in the future. GL Plastics is trying to realize products from recycling streams and to develop products from bioplastics by means of smart designs. Possibly the injection moulder will get more support in the future. After all, the majority of respondents indicate that digitalization and developments in the field of Industry 4.0 can certainly help in achieving sustainability goals.


1 Analysis #91, Future of the Industry, European Media Partner

2 Dutch Rubber and Plastics Industry Federation NRK

Read more about the sustainability initiatives from GL Plastics.