Clorox Australia is the owner of the brand GLAD® and is committed to conducting business in a manner that will not cause unacceptable degradation of the Environment.
Clorox Australia is a quiet achiever when it comes to environmentally friendly practices. It has for many years considered the practice of scrap sorting, scrap reduction, increasing recycled content and packaging minimisation as an integral part of business improvement and practice. In many instances we are leaders in this field especially in manufacturing practice and have been used as industry examples.
Plastics and the environment
While the impact of plastic litter is a problem, the environmental impacts of plastic as a whole is not as bad as most people perceive. When taking into account raw material acquisition, manufacturing, and correct disposal, plastic has a pretty good report card.
Some interesting Facts about Plastic:
- The energy required to make plastic bags is very low. For example;
The fuel consumed by driving your car 1 kilometre is equivalent to the energy used to make 8.7 single uses of shopping bags.
- When plastic bags are compared to paper bags, a plastic bag uses 40% less energy, makes 80% less solid waste, 72% less atmospheric emissions and 90% less waterborne waste.
- Plastics are strong and lightweight; these two very important properties have been exploited by car manufactures over the last 20 years. The making of car parts out of plastic has drastically reduced the weight of cars. This in turn has made cars more fuel-efficient.
- The use of plastic in packaging significantly reduces the weight of many products. This saves energy resources in the transportation of goods, where the lighter loads reduce the fuel used by trucks to transport goods.
- Source reduction is a method by which fewer resources are used to make a product. Because plastic is very strong, less of it can be used to obtain the same strength of something made using another material, which can result in less of an effect on the environment than other alternatives (such as paper bags).
- If disposed of correctly, plastic takes carbon from a sink (petrochemical oil) and returns it to a sink (entombment landfill), without releasing CO2 to the environment.
- Plastic equates to roughly 0.2% of total solid waste that goes into landfill each year.
Problems with Plastic
While plastic can have may benefits for the environment, how people dispose of it causes a large environment al problem, LITTER. Plastic litter on land can clog drains and be unattractive, however in marine environments it can have greater effects. Plastic shopping bags are the worst source of plastic litter, but only account for about 2.5% of plastic produced in Australia. There is a real need for people to take better responsibility for the way they dispose of plastic shopping bags. Other alternatives to plastic shopping bags need to be used to reduce the problems associated with plastic bag littering. Some of these include reusable polypropylene and calico shopping bags. Every person can do their best to help reduce the problems of plastic litter by practicing the three R's, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
Contact your local government to find out have you can practice the three R's in your home. Or visit the following sites:
National Packaging Covenant
On the 31st of August 2001 Clorox Australia became a signatory to the National Packaging Covenant (NPC) and submitted it's first Action Plan. The Covenant is an initiative of the EPA and is based on the principle of product stewardship including the environmental impact of the product through to and including it's ultimate disposal with the final aim of reducing packaging waste to landfill.
Businesses in signing the Covenant must prepare annual action plans and annual reports on action plans that cover the eight commitment areas where relevant:
- Packaging disposal
- Research Market Development for packaging waste
Underpinning these areas are the considerations of the Reduce Reuse Recycle. To download the latest Clorox Australia NPC Action Plan and Report PDF click here. To find out further information about the National Packaging Covenant, the Packaging Council of Australia has detailed information about the Covenant and all submitted Action Plans. Their website is at this address: http://www.packcoun.com.au/.
From 2005 a new Packaging Covenant will begin with a national recycling target of 65% by 2010. The current recycling rate is at approximately 48%. Clorox Australia Pty Ltd will again be a signatory to this covenant and will work with all sectors where possible to enable this target to be achieved.
In the second half of 2002 Clorox became a participating member on the Australian Food and Grocery Council's Environment Committee (AFGC). In 2003 this committee assisted in preparing and reviewing the 2nd yearly Environmental Report. To view the report click here and then open the Environmental Report 2003, you will need to be patient as it takes about 90 seconds to open. This report was made public on the 15th Feb 2004 and sent to approximately 500 government departments, Environmental interest groups, AFGC members and retail.
On 28th August 2004 Clorox Australia won the silver award for our 2003 action plan report and 2004-action plan and on October 6th 2005 Clorox won the Gold award for their 2004 action plan report and 2005 action plan. The awards are an annual event run by the Packaging Council of Australia. The action plan award is a recent category and sponsored and judged EPA Victoria. Here is what they said about us:
"Clorox adopted a comprehensive approach to implementing their National Packaging Covenant obligations, as demonstrated by their progress in improving packaging design and recyclability in a range of areas across their business including: manufacturing and retailing, production, market development, design, distribution, research and education. The Action Plan reported achievements including: 32% and 39.5% lightweighting of two different HDPE Clorox products, changes to bulk packaging of some products, 9% reduction in electricity usage, utilisation of rail instead of truck transport for distribution in Western Australia and a number of environmental training initiatives for employees.."
In 2005 Clorox began the practice of donating obsolete or non-saleable but useable stock to overseas charities rather than dumping it in landfill, for example Chux cloths and GLAD® plastic film go to ZONTA for making birthing kits for women on the west coast of Africa. The birthing kits contain plastic sheets for the ground and Chux gloves for cleaning and handling babies. All the recipients of these kits are unable to access proper sanitary medical facilities and face having a baby, often in the desert, with a traditional birth attendant or none at all. For more information on ZONTA in Australia click here.
In 1982 Clorox Australia Pty Ltd was the first consumer plastic bag manufacturer in Australia to launch a GLAD® branded biodegradable plastic bag. The product was starched based polymer imported from Canada and unfortunately was not successful. It was a product way ahead of it's time and not commercially viable; people just did not want to buy it. It was withdrawn from the market later in the year.
This is not to say that biodegradable plastic bags as and idea have been abandoned however GLAD® places extremely high value on the quality and will only provide products that they know will deliver to the expectations of our consumers. There are many biodegradable plastics now available and we are looking at all possibilities to enable us to deliver what GLAD® stands for.
Many people think biodegradable bags are a solution to plastic litter, however the use of biodegradable bags is not straight forward. There are a number of reasons why biodegradable polymers have not replace conventional polymers and are not more widely used today.
First of all is the performance of biodegradable polymers. Most biodegradable polymers are intended to replace conventional polymers in uses such as shopping bags. Unfortunately these biodegradable polymers cannot perform as well as conventional polymers, mainly in the area of strength. Remember most shopping bags are approximately one tenth on a millimetre thick, but are strong enough to carry heavy weights when packed full of heavy shopping items. For biodegradable polymers to compete they have to be extremely strong as well as degrade readily when disposed of.
Second problem with degradable bags is the net environmental impact. Just because a bag disintegrates and disappears doesn't necessarily mean it is good for the environment. So as well as making a bag strong, it has to be free of any components that can harm the environment when the bag breaks down.
To overcome this problem may polymers have been made that break down simply into carbon dioxide and water, for example starch based polymers. But these bags are weak and some times start to break down too early. Other plastics have been made from traditional polymers (such as polyethylene) that breakdown in the environment into CO2 and water. These plastics are as strong as conventional plastics, but are still made from petrochemicals, a non-renewable resource, so there is still not net benefit to the environment
Both of the above types of polymers release CO2 into the atmosphere when they breakdown. This can be a problem because CO2 is a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. This problem isn't so bad when the raw material of the plastic is plant based, such as starch polymers, but is potentially very bad if the polymer is petroleum based.Another problem encountered is the time it takes for a degradable polymer to break down. If a polymer is made very strong, it usually takes a long time to breakdown in the environment and can cause the same problems as a conventional bag. If the bag is made to breakdown quickly it is usually weak or breaks down when it comes in contact with water .
These problems are only a few of the difficulties faced when trying to come up with an environmental alternative to conventional plastic.
For biodegradable bags to be widely used, they must be just as strong as conventional bags, be made from a renewable resource, be non toxic when it breaks down, degrade quickly when it has been used, and be cheap to make . This is a tall order and further research and development needs to take place before biodegradable polymers will be used in the place of conventional polymers. In the mean time everyone can help the environment by practicing the three R's when using conventional plastic, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
1. Environment Protection and Heritage Council, Plastic Shopping Bags in Australia . National Plastic Bags Working Group Report to the National Packing Covenant Council, 6 December 2002, at 12.
2. Environment Protection and Heritage Council, Plastic Shopping Bags in Australia . National Plastic Bags Working Group Report to the National Packing Covenant Council, 6 December 2002, at 12.
3. Statement generally considered true in automotive and plastics industries, taken from multiple sources.
4. Environment Protection and Heritage Council, Plastic Shopping Bags in Australia . National Plastic Bags Working Group Report to the National Packing Covenant Council, 6 December 2002, at 13.
5. ExcelPlas Australia , Centre for Design at RMIT, Nolan-ITU . The impacts of degradable plastics in Australia . Department of the Environment and Heritage, April 2004
6. Environment Protection and Heritage Council, Plastic Shopping Bags in Australia. National Plastic Bags Working Group Report to the National Packing Covenant Council, 6 December 2002, at 12.
7. Environment Protection and Heritage Council, Plastic Shopping Bags in Australia. National Plastic Bags Working Group Report to the National Packing Covenant Council, 6 December 2002, at 9.
8. ExcelPlas Australia , Centre for Design at RMIT, Nolan-ITU . The impacts of degradable plastics in Australia . Department of the Environment and Heritage, April 2004
9. ExcelPlas Australia , Centre for Design at RMIT, Nolan-ITU . The impacts of degradable plastics in Australia . Department of the Environment and Heritage, April 2004
10. ExcelPlas Australia , Centre for Design at RMIT, Nolan-ITU . The impacts of degradable plastics in Australia . Department of the Environment and Heritage, April 2004
11. ExcelPlas Australia, Centre for Design at RMIT, Nolan-ITU. The impacts of degradable plastics in Australia. Department of the Environment and Heritage, April 2004
12. ExcelPlas Australia, Centre for Design at RMIT, Nolan-ITU. The impacts of degradable plastics in Australia. Department of the Environment and Heritage, April 2004