There has been an increasing trend in recent years in the direction of a circular economy. What effect is this having on ALPLA?
A greater focus on the topic of a circular economy has resulted in us as a company collaborating more with all the value chain stakeholders and joining various initiatives. In all of this, the aim is to develop new solutions that keep plastics in the cycle for longer. Communication has changed as a result too – for some time now, we have been significantly stepping up our public relations in the form of social media, interviews, TV commercials and panel discussions. As a result, the end consumers are being addressed in an even more targeted way and are being made aware of the importance of a circular economy.
The framework conditions are changing too as the requirements and regulations stipulated by society and the policymakers become more and more extensive. We at ALPLA have always set great store by closed loops. This is why we operate our own recycling plants, allowing us to cover two stages of the value chain. We want to make an additional contribution to the circular economy with other waste management activities and global clean-ups.
How do you reconcile the two responsibilities of strategy and a circular economy?
The entire area of sustainability with the three focuses of planet, people and profit has become more and more important in recent years. The circular economy has a key part to play here and is becoming more and more relevant both in the industry and society. It is therefore important and prudent that we incorporate this into our strategy and afford the topic more attention. What’s more, in doing so, we are helping to disseminate the topic in the regions in which we operate.
How is ALPLA managing to incorporate the circular economy into its core business?
We are working daily on innovations in order to come up with solutions in line with the circular economy. A key aspect here is the topic of design for recycling. This ensures that our products find their way back to us. Having our own recycling plants around the world that support us with a great deal of expertise is a major advantage here.
Our day-to-day activities and development work also focus on the areas of ‘reduce’, ‘reuse’ and ‘replace’. We have already taken steps in the right direction with products such as the reusable GDB bottle, the refill solution The Simple One and the Paboco paper bottle, and will continue to do so in the years to come. To raise awareness of the topic of a circular economy among our employees and our customers, we will be opening an interactive Circular Economy Room at our headquarters in Hard in summer 2021.
What are the specific challenges and opportunities for ALPLA with regard to the circular economy?
The main challenge is undoubtedly the generally poor image that plastics have. This is due to the fact that all too often plastics end up where they don’t belong – in nature. We therefore need to come up with solutions here too to prevent littering and highlight the environmental and economic value of plastic to people.
Focusing on a new level of awareness offers major opportunities and we have already launched a number of campaigns in this area that show the end consumers why plastic is the best alternative in many areas. A key aspect here is undoubtedly promoting solutions for correct waste management in tandem and together with the local authorities.
We at ALPLA also see the implementation of new business models as an opportunity, such as the production of reusable solutions.
What development are you anticipating up to 2030?
We are anticipating strong growth in the AMET region in particular, specifically in Africa. The task in hand is to now implement the recycling and waste management solutions which have been in place in Europe for some time in these regions too. Another key task will be that of encouraging those who live in these regions to collect plastics separately and then utilise them.
Other potential developments that we need to prepare for are new bans and rules relating to plastics. We will need to react quickly here and develop new solutions. New technologies no doubt also have an important part to play here, for example making single-stream plastics sorting easier. This will undoubtedly make it easier to recycle various plastics and, with the assistance of everyone involved, to further optimise the individual steps of the loop.
We want to continue to take the right steps with regard to global warming too. Here, we will focus specifically on those areas that we can directly influence – as a company, we too can make an active contribution to combating global warming by upping the proportion of recycled materials in our products, increasing the proportion of renewable energies used at our plants and using the available resources sparingly.