Most plastic pollution found in nature originates from fishing gear, carelessly discarded bottles, plastic bags and other packaging. Although the proportion of plastic pellets and particles coming from the manufacturing industry is comparably small, we believe there should be none at all. Once in the ocean, it is difficult to retrieve plastic waste. As part of the plastics industry, it is our responsibility to prevent plastic pellets and particles from ending up in waterways and in our soil. Our motto is Zero Pellet Loss! We work hard to avoid spills, identify potential risks and adequately dispose of what has been spilled.
There are several steps to preventing the release of plastic pellets to the environment. One simple and effective tactic is to install filters in manholes and stormwater drains. This way, when it rains, pellets don't enter stormwater systems which may eventually lead to a waterbody. The designs of our filters have been shared across the group and ALL Pipelife businesses have committed to their installation. So far, 85% of our production sites already have these filters in place. The installation of drain filters is a relatively simple but effective solution and represents great progress.
Some of our production facilities rely on alternative methods such as filtering at centralized collection points rather than using individual manhole filters. This means all stormwater runoff goes through a filtering system built into a local wastewater treatment plant.
It is important to identify all sources of plastic pellet or particle loss and to find a matching solution. Sometimes this means designing better material handling systems which prevent spillages. We also make sure that all staff are educated about the issue and actively take part in the prevention of loss of containment. However, spills do happen and so we employ industrial vacuum systems in and outside and outside our factories to help us clean up clean up every plastic crumb and particle coming from pipe cutting and other steps in production. This is combined with other control measures like regular sweeping and the use of mechanical brush systems similar to street cleaners.
Located by the sea, our Norwegian production site in Stathelle has a very special practice in place. Large diameter PE pipes are extruded and cut outdoors as they are then pulled directly into the sea for energy efficient transport. To prevent plastic particles from being blown from the dock area into the water, Pipelife Norway's production team stops all outdoor cutting processes whenever there is too much of a risk. A weather station with anemometer has been installed for this purpose.
To stop the loss of plastic into the environment, Plastics Europe, a European association of plastics manufacturers, created the Zero Pellet Loss initiative. In 2015, this initiative was united with the global Operation Clean Sweep® program. Plastics Europe is the principal host of Operation Clean Sweep® in Europe and is coordinating its implementation by actively encouraging companies and other associations to join through extensive promotion of the initiative.
Contact us if you are interested in learning more about our practices and feel free to share best practices and ideas with us. Together, we can reduce plastic pellet and particle loss to a minimum!