Interview with Cristina Bogdan – Sustainability Manager ALPLA Romania, Hungary, Balkan-Adria
Please tell us more details about ALPLA.
ALPLA is a world leader in the development and production of plastic packaging (bottles, injection molded parts, preforms) for both local and international customers. With a vast expertise gathered within over 60 years in this field, ALPLA is a company with a strong commitment to sustainability, one of the main goals being to reduce pollution. At the heart of all our actions is a strong desire to offer sustainable products and high quality packaging solutions that satisfy customers’ wishes by offering the highest standards implemented worldwide.
ALPLA entered the Romanian market in 2011, opening the first production plant in Bucharest. In 2017 it expanded in Timișoara and acquired the company Star East Pet Romania in Brașov, and a year later, in 2018, it acquired Argo S.A. and has developed its expertise in the manufacture of packaging for the pharmaceutical and agro sector. Currently, more than 200 employees offer packaging solutions for brands in several market segments, both for local and international customers, producing over 1 billion preforms annually.
What is the main reason for which you conducted the LCA study?
In Romania there are many myths about plastic and its impact on the environment. The main reason we chose to commission this study was to provide the general public with concrete and accurate information on the impact that recycled plastic has on the environment. Moreover, we want to highlight the benefits that plastic packaging offers and to raise awareness about the importance of packaging recycling. Through the LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) study we want to change the misperception of people who view plastic as a polluting factor and not as a valuable resource, which, properly recycled, can be reused and can benefit the environment. I believe that informed people are more responsible and responsibility is the foundation of a clean environment.
What does the study show and what do you want to further transmit to the public?
Life Cycle Assessment is the first large-scale study in Romania that emphasizes the importance of plastic recycling and highlights the low impact it has on the carbon footprint.. PET bottles achieved remarkable results with the lowest figures in terms of pollution (0.023 mg particles / pet), CO2 emissions (137 g / pet) and water consumption (0.76 liters / pet). Moreover, PET bottles with recycled content have even greater results and lower environmental impact.
Thus, we want to pass on this information and point up the fact that, surprisingly, the percentages recorded as a result of production processes for glass packaging are considerably higher compared to plastic. The CO2 emission for the bottle is 505 g / bottle, the air pollution is 0.174 mg particulates, and 2.95L of water is consumed during each glass bottle’s life cycle. We must understand and be aware that in the case of aluminum or glass packaging, the manufacturing and recycling process is a big consumer of energy. Moreover, PET manufacturers deliver preforms to bottlers, thus saving more space and reducing the weight of cars that will consume less fuel and reduce their carbon footprint in the atmosphere.
Is plastic less dangerous than glass? Why?
The difference between glass bottles and disposable PETs shows an advantage for the latter, especially when comparing the result for the carbon footprint. Contrary to expectations, disposable glass packaging always has the greatest negative effects on the environment, the PET recycling process involving the least resources and the least polluting. Recycled plastics contribute to the creation of the best option for the environment, being able to be recycled several times, reusable plastic bottles can be refilled, on average, 25 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 microparticles that end up in the water often come from synthetic fabrics and used tires.