Today is World Environment Day and this year it is dedicated to raising awareness on plastic pollution. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), one million plastic bottles are purchased every minute worldwide, while up to five trillion plastic bags are used globally every year. In total, half of all plastic produced is designed for single-use purposes - used just once and then thrown away. Less than 10% is recycled. These are alarming statistics in this day and age.
At Schréder, we are marking this day by reinforcing our actions to fight against plastic waste.
Three years ago, when we launched our Together for Our Future strategy, we committed to banning single-use plastic drink bottles, plastic cups and plastic cutlery in all our offices and factories worldwide as they are a major contributor to plastic pollution.
To highlight the importance of this ban, water bottles, glasses and cups were distributed and water fountains that dispense free filtered drinking water were installed so employees can easily fill these reusable containers. This initiative is on-going, with the majority of our entities having already banned single-use plastic.
Single-use plastic is a huge threat to our planet. The best way to avoid plastic pollution and the wasting of resources that go into making it, is to simply reduce plastic use. Banning plastic bottles, cups and cutlery from all our facilities was a simple and logical action to reduce our plastic footprint and drive positive change.
This action is not the only step that we are taking to reduce our plastic footprint.
Testing new solutions for our products
While we use little plastic to manufacture our luminaires, the optical parts can only be made from plastic. We are looking for alternatives that have a lower environmental footprint. The availability of bioplastics appears to be a valid solution that we will keep exploring to solve this problem and we have already started defining suitable materials to replace all the plastics we use with bio-based alternatives.
Our plan is to complete material testing and validation by the end of 2023, and to replace the fossil-based plastics we currently use with bio-based plastics from 2024.
Reusable packaging systems
Packaging is essential to protect our products but we are also working hard to reduce unnecessary plastic in our packaging. We are using reusable plastic crates with our aluminum suppliers to pack, store and transport goods. We will expand their use to more suppliers in the coming months, further reducing our plastic waste.
Accelerating the transition to a more circular economy
In addition to reducing our plastic, we are supporting our customers in creating a circular economy. In 2020, with no standard certification for circular economy compliance in the lighting industry, we launched our Circle Light Label that assesses luminaire circularity based on 12 objective criteria. It evaluates performance, maintenance, refurbishment, disassembly and recycling potential. This means that our luminaires will operate for as long as possible with a minimal footprint before they can then be reused, refurbished and then recycled, helping our customers to reduce waste and contribute to a greener planet.
We will continue to work hand-in-hand with our employees, customers, suppliers and partners to find new ways to reduce our plastic footprint and accelerate growth within a circular economy. Our Together for our Future sustainability strategy goes beyond reducing our environmental impact: it is also about creating a better environment and life for our employees and society at large.