Last month, committed to its sustainability policy and considering the vast expertise gathered within over 60 years since the company was founded, ALPLA launched the first high-profile LCA on the Romanian market, which analyses the environmental effects that the complete life cycle of the packaging has, starting with the production, transportation, filling, distribution, up to recycling and energy recovery. To find out more about this subject, and also about ALPLA, BR talked to the company Sustainability Manager for Romania, Hungary, and Balkan-Adria Region, Cristina Bogdan, for an exclusive interview.
- Tell us about ALPLA. What is it? What does it do and since when did it enter the Romanian market?
ALPLA is a world leader in the development and production of innovative plastic packaging solutions with worldwide production operations. Our products optimally meet the needs of our customers, but also the highest global standards thanks to the latest technologies. Currently we have seven technical centers, located on four continents, which allow us to adopt a faster and more flexible approach to our cooperation with customers. At the same time, helps us streamline the distribution process to bottlers through shorter transport routes. ALPLA does not only produce for one market is part of the market.
ALPLA entered the Romanian market in 2011 by opening the first production facility in Bucharest. In 2017, ALPLA expanded to Timisoara and in the same year acquired the Star East Pet Romania company in Brasov. In 2018, ALPLA acquired Argo S.A. and developed its expertise in packaging production for the pharmaceutical and agro industry. Currently, more than 200 employees offer packaging solutions for various brands in different lines of business, both for domestic and international clients, through the annual production of over 1 billion preforms.
- What determined you to order this study?
We are a global company with a strong desire for sustainability and one of our goals is to reduce pollution. Thanks to the vast expertise gathered within over 60 years since ALPLA was founded, we commissioned the first large-scale study on the Romanian market in order to continue the company’s sustainability strategy. Moreover, we want to encourage recycling and raise awareness among the population by presenting the advantages of recycled plastic packaging and changing the general perception that plastic is the most harmful material for the environment and health.
- Why recyclable plastic packaging is less polluting than glass packaging?
The Life Cycle Assessment study, conducted by an independent consulting company, analyzed the effects of the complete life cycle of packaging from the process of production, transport, filling, distribution to recycling and energy recovery. Following the analysis carried out through the comparison between glass and single-use PET packaging, the latter has the edge here, especially on the carbon footprint numbers. Totally unexpected, single use glass packaging has always the greatest negative effects on the environment, while the production and recycling of PET involves a small amount of resources and has the least polluting effect. In addition, due to the fact that it cannot be compacted, glass packaging is larger and heavier than PET, which is delivered to bottlers in preforms. Because of the fact that it takes up less space, we can deliver a larger quantity without cumbering the capacity of vehicles. Thus, a smaller amount of CO2 will be emitted during delivery.
- What do you think about the Directive on limiting the impact of plastics on the environment?
In line with EU policy, as of July 3rd this year, all member states have had to take measures to reduce pollution. Eliminating certain categories of disposable plastic products is a first step in reducing the negative impact they have on the environment, but limiting or removing them is not enough. We must first of all raise awareness, contribute to the education of the population and encourage separate collection by providing the necessary infrastructure. It is very important to understand the benefits that come with recycling plastic containers. Recycled plastics contribute to the creation of the best option for the environment, considering that in our portfolio we also have reusable PET bottles with rPET content, giving the possibility to be refilled minimum 15 times. Moreover, it is necessary to dismantle the myth that plastic pollutes water. We must understand that water pollution is primarily due to poor management of plastic, not the material itself. The plastic micro particles that end up in the water often come from synthetic fabrics and used tires. In addition, in Romania, many people do not have access to a controlled collection and sorting system, this being the main reason that leads to a high pollution.
- Does this directive, which entered into force at the beginning of July, affect the activity of ALPLA?
The directive imposes a significant quantitative reduction on packiging plastic products, generating also a target for collecting plastic bottles of up to 90% until 2029. Thus, in the next five years bottles should contain at lest 25% recycled plastic for their manufacture. The activity of our company is not affected by this European directive, because one of our main principles is to support circular economy through our products and innovations.