Steve McNaughton is a plastics industry stalwart. He has been in the industry for over thirty years.
In that time, he has seen many industry changes, and when he bought out his partner at Co-Ex Films in Braeside back in 2013, he had plans to make the business more profitable (of course) but also operate in a more sustainable manner.
So when he was approached by Heidi Taylor from Operation Clean Sweep® Australia, he jumped at the chance to ensure his operations would minimise the pollution of Australian beaches by the spillage of the tiny plastic pellets.
Operation Clean Sweep® program is designed to help the plastics industry to reduce the accidental loss of polymer pellets from all parts of the plastics value-chain into the environment. Globally, the reduction of pellet loss has been included in the Declaration of Solutions for Marine Litter to help industry’s role in addressing marine litter.
Steve said, “It ticks all the boxes, Operation Clean Sweep® Australia was easy to implement and has shown instant environmental and financial benefits. By containing spillages immediately, maximising care during decanting and transfer operations and making sure all pallets are clean and free from pellet contamination, Co-Ex Films is not just meeting our obligations, we are ensuring the environment is not polluted by our work practices.”
Operation Clean Sweep® Australia was also highlighted in the Kingston Council Newsletter and was proceeded by several high-profile articles in national newspapers highlighting the pollution issue – an issue that could easily become as viral and damaging for the industry as the attempted eradication of plastic bags.
The management of plastic pellets in the manufacturing environment is an industry issue, an issue that Co-Ex Films is willing to tackle head on.
After an audit, Co-Ex Films recognised several areas that required immediate change. The main issue identified was at delivery; most external pellet loss was coming from damaged pallets arriving on trucks, so they have informed all their suppliers that as part of their commitment to Operation Clean Sweep® Australia, they will not unload damaged pallets at their premises.
Other areas that required change included sealing waste bins from inside the factory before being deposited in the external waste bin, empty sacks are to be completely cleared of pellets before return or disposal and recycling bins are to be wrapped in a manner that prevents loss by spillage or by the elements.
The Operation Clean Sweep® Australia program is easy to implement and can be incorporated into an ISO program.
“Our factory guys quickly understood and implemented suggested handling, warehousing and clean-up programs supplied by Operation Clean Sweep® Australia to minimise spillages. We have incorporated the relevant procedures into our Quality Policy ISO 9001:2008, and we are very happy to be part of this program and urge all other manufacturers, suppliers and distributors to get on board with Operation Clean Sweep® Australia. It’s up to all of us in the industry to take responsibility to ensure we operate ethically,” said Steve McNaughton, Director Co-Ex Films.