Environment & environmental impacts

Materials management

Using resources efficiently doesn’t simply protect the climate and conserve the environment – there are economic arguments for doing so to. Material costs account for at least half of what we spend on producing our packaging solutions. This alone is a huge incentive for us to use materials responsibly.
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When purchasing virgin materials, we seek to do business as regionally as possible. In other words, we give preference around the world to material suppliers located close to our plants. We source recycled materials both from our own recycling plants and from material suppliers.

Our material consumption for the direct production of ALPLA plastic packaging increased by around 0.5 per cent between 2018 and 2020. A total of 2,173,000 tonnes of plastic were processed in 2020. This includes plastics from renewable resources – these bio-based materials accounted for 0.1 per cent or 1,200 tonnes.

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Material consumption by type of plastic

Material consumption based on plastic type has barely changed in the course of the reporting years. We still primarily process PET (54 per cent) and HDPE (39 per cent). At 7.1 per cent and 0.3 per cent respectively, PP and LDPE make up a considerably lower share of our material mix.

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The use of master batches (colour pellets) and other additives accounts for a vanishingly small proportion of ALPLA’s overall material consumption. These additives modify the properties of the processed plastics in the desired and necessary direction. They give the bottles the desired colour, improve their protective function (e.g. oxygen barrier) or make them resistant to environmental effects (e.g. UV radiation).

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Recycled materials

The proportion of recycled materials increased significantly in the reporting period. In 2018, it was approximately 148,000 tonnes of recycled PET and HDPE, which equates to 9 per cent of all the materials used. In 2020, we processed some 144,000 tonnes of recycled PET, which equals 16 per cent of overall PET consumption. The amount of recycled HDPE used in 2020 was around 65,000 tonnes, which represents 6 per cent of the materials used. In total, recycled materials (PET, HDPE, PP, LDPE) accounted for 13 per cent of the materials used in 2020.

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Plastics from renewable resources

Common plastics are made out of crude oil and therefore out of a fossil and non-renewable resource. ALPLA already has many years of expertise and experience in processing alternatives such as Plant PET (Coca-Cola). ALPLA works with customers and partners to develop the materials through to market maturity. ALPLA has been a member of an international consortium since 2013 which is working on the development of PEF (polyethylene furanoate) using nothing but plant-based materials. In 2018, ALPLA introduced coffee capsules made of Golden Compound green to the market. This bio-based material with natural fibres from sunflower seed hulls is compostable at home.

There are many alternative materials that boast excellent properties. Research on and mould validations of PEF have shown that its gas barrier for oxygen is ten times higher than that of PET. PEF can additionally be recycled very effectively. And recycling is a crucial factor for the success of these new plastics. The legal provisions in the European Union will require high recycling quotas to be met in the future. For example, beverage packaging must contain 30 per cent recycled materials by 2030. This rule can pose a barrier to new materials entering and penetrating the market. What’s needed here is sensible and forward-thinking regulations that do not jeopardise the endeavours and the presentable results achieved to date.

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