Did you know that 8 million tons of plastics end up in our oceans every year and that by 2050, plastics may outnumber fish in the sea?

Plastic is still one of the most used materials on the planet even though it is a nightmare for the environment. Still, we keep using them because it is cost-effective, lightweight, durable, does not decay and is moldable.

With over 8 million tons of plastic flowing into the ocean each year, an equivalent to one garbage truck full of plastic dumped every minute. At this rate, there will be about 53 tons of plastic dumped into the ocean by 2030.

Unfortunately, plastic creates a harmful impact on the environment. The lack of a strong recycling infrastructure has sent majority of the plastic waste to landfills or dumped into the ocean. And because it isn’t biodegradable, every piece of manufactured plastic is still on this planet as microplastics, either being consumed by animals or in our foods.

plastic waste mismanagementSource: OECD Global Plastics

Attacking Plastic Packaging Waste

Workstations and servers are manufactured from various metals, plastics, and a combination of alloys. Although some materials can be hazardous to your health, current systems use less toxic and dangerous components. Plastics in our workstations are used for two purposes – insulation to protect against heat and in capacitors, to help conduct electricity.

Among all types of plastics, one was the most problematic for Hypertec: foamed plastic. Whether it is polyethylene (plastic nr. 4), polypropylene (plastic nr. 5), or polystyrene (Plastic nr. 6), these plastics are perfect to protect fragile elements and components as they are:

  • Lightweight;
  • Durable;
  • Resistant to moisture and chemicals;
  • Great for dampening vibrations;

The most common use of foam plastics in many manufacturing environments comes in the form of packaging. Until this day, foam plastic is still the best and the most used material in protective packaging applications. And because of this specific use of plastic, businesses produce a lot of plastic waste – as a manufacturer, Hypertec is no exception.

Packaging plastic foam
Packaging plastic foam

However, Styrene is used as the building block for creating Styrofoam, which is considered by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a “probable carcinogen to humans”.

Even worse, Styrofoam is commonly manufactured with flame-retardant chemicals that damage the environment and can harm us.

Because polystyrene foam takes hundreds of years to decompose, it is not considered to be biodegradable. Research has shown that plastic foam lasts in our environment for thousands of years and effectively damages the earth’s ecosystems. There are other hidden business costs to using styrene foam ranging from labour and disposal problems. Although lightweight, it takes more space to store them, thereby increasing one’s carbon emissions from transporting to recycling centers.

Foamed plastics represent 70-80% of the volume of generated waste on the production floor and this is why Hypertec needed a way to address this transportation issue to reduce its carbon footprint. The more packaging foam that is produced, the more trucks it takes to transport them to recycling centers.
Reducing space means less carbon emissions

To solve this storage and transportation problem, as it takes more space than regular flat plastic container, we have decided to reduce the size of the plastic waste produced. To do so, Hypertec purchased and now uses a GREENMAX EPS/Styrofoam densifier hot melting machine. It compacts waste plastics materials into tight compacted blocks which are much easier to handle and saves storage and transportation costs, thereby reducing carbon emissions related to transportation.

Greenmax - Plastic foam waste to ingots
Plastic foam from its original form to melted ingots

The machine crushes the foam and melts it into ingots with a 90:1 ratio, thus, reducing the space required to transport it for recycling.

Companies that use this solution saved at least $15 000 in landfill costs. GREENMAX offers the possibility to buy back these compacted EPS foam to be recycled into picture frames and decorative moldings.

Greenmax - Waste EPS lifecycleSource: Intorecycling.com 

Hypertec’s Commitment to Reuse, Recycle and Reduce

The truth may be harsh, but recycling is a money issue. It costs time and money for companies to manage waste properly. By having sustainable practices, Hypertec takes part in a circular economy model and proves that businesses can make a profit by being sustainable.
In a circular economy, resources and productions are managed differently with one goal set in mind: reuse. Nothing is wasted. Everything should be reusable, repairable, re-manufacturable, and recyclable.
By doing so:

  • A product’s life is extended;
  • Increases recycling rates,Decreases the use of natural resources;
  • Reduces the carbon footprint;
  • A long-term economic growth;
  • Reduce the landfilling that would reduce the land use.

This approach not only helps save the environment, but also improves quality of life and create new jobs.

Plastic waste circular economy

Source: Kpmg.ca 

Hypertec also reduces its carbon footprint, reduces its plastic waste, and expects a return on investment in a bit more than a year.

Hypertec strives for a balance between environmental, social, and economic goals. This is why we have a whole R&D department dedicated to sustainability. This department works on finding solutions that will reduce the company’s carbon footprint and ensures that the company follows through on its commitments.

Along with our sustainable practices, Hypertec’s products are also labeled eco-friendly by the EPEAT and our environmental management system is compliant and certified under the international standards ISO 14001:2015. Hypertec’s headquarters and largest manufacturing facility is BOMA BEST® Gold certified, which is one of the highest Canadian standards for sustainable building infrastructure, considering energy and environmental performance.

Visit our sustainability page to know more about Hypertec’s initiatives and commitment.

This post is also available in: FR

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