Challenges are present every day in the plastics industry. To meet them and confirm its commitment to reducing plastic waste, packaging and foodservice product producer Novolex has published its first sustainability report. The report focuses on all 61 of the company’s operations, including its headquarters in Hartsville, SC.
“Our first report catalogs our sustainability accomplishments and enables us to identify new opportunities to meet our obligations as a responsible corporate citizen,” explained Stan Bikulege, Novolex Chairman and CEO. “How Novolex performs on environmental and social metrics is increasingly important to our customers and to the communities where our products are produced and used.”
Recycled content represented 20% of the plastic resin used by the company—six percent was post-consumer recycled (PCR) material and 14% was post-industrial (PI) recycled content. Use of PCR content was driven in part by the company’s long-standing Bag-2-Bag program that recycles plastic consumer retail bags as well as films such as dry-cleaning bags, newspaper bags, pallet wrap and more. Novolex operates two world-class recycling centers in Wisconsin and Indiana, where it processes both PCR and PI materials.
“The recycled polyethylene material that goes back into the products that Novolex produces comes from multiple places,” explained Erik Gonring, Novolex Director of Sustainability, to PlasticsToday. “We buy the PE film and recycle it in one of our facilities and we also buy post-consumer pellets from other reclaimers; a good amount comes from PCR from baled bags and film that we convert ourselves.
“We’re looking at ways to double down on recycling and increase the number of bags that are recycled. How to recycle these products properly is an education process,” added Gonring.
Novolex also buys recycled post-consumer PS and PP. “We’re definitely interested in expanding our capability to use recycled content in our products,” Gonring said. “We really believe that recycling is the best solution for our products and that it can work better than it is currently working in North America. We’re working to drive recycling to play a more meaningful role in the circular economy.”
Novolex focuses on partnerships, helping customers to design their waste stream. “It really is a discipline,” Gonring stated. “We then find the recycling infrastructure near those customers. This underscores what Novolex is all about—providing customers with choice in their packaging and foodservice products and investing in innovation that offers different sustainable attributes.”
The company’s commitment to waste reduction is further supported by its Eco-Products division (Boulder, CO), whose portfolio includes compostable foodservice packaging and a broader collaboration with customers to advance zero waste strategies, said the company.
“The 2018 Novolex Sustainability Report represents a key step toward establishing what we stand for as a company,” said Gonring. “Importantly, the preparation of our first report provided an opportunity to look across our business through an environmental and social lens and identify opportunities to improve the circularity of our products. We have benchmarked critical programs, and the results of that exercise will enable us to identify goals in the years to come.”