‘I don’t want to limit what we can achieve’

Sustainability at Trioplast. Interview with Oskar Karlsson.
The future looks brilliant, according to Oskar Karlsson, chief procurement officer at Trioplast. When it comes to sustainability, Trioplast has a very clear ambition. “And at this point we’re exactly where we want to be – good market position, clear targets for the future and a competent and committed workforce.”

Karlsson has been with the Swedish company for two years. But sustainability has been a topic for Trioplast for many years, he points out.

Four different brands

Right now, the company is preparing for the future by filling their sustainable product portfolio. Trioplast launched this portfolio last year with four different brands: Trioloop (consisting of post-consumer recycled material), Triogreen (consisting of biobased polyethylene or polypropylene), Triolean (down-gauged high-performance film), and TrioGreenway (a strategic service for customers to optimise their sustainable packaging solutions).

One of the company’s targets for 2025 is to supply a circular alternative for every product they offer. “For everything we produce or sell, we want to be able to offer an alternative product from Trioloop or Triogreen”, Karlsson says. “Already today we can offer many of our clients a sustainable alternative for their products. To be able to provide all our customers with circular products, that will be fantastic.”

Another target for 2025 is to have an average of 30 percent recycled material in all of their products. And even sooner, at the end of 2022, all of Trioplast’s products will be 100 percent recyclable.

A vision for the future: We are Sustainable

The sustainable product portfolio is one of two big goals for the future. The other goal is related to their work within the company. “We call it ‘We are Sustainable’”, Karlsson reveals. “And it’s measured by what status we accomplish in EcoVadis.” EcoVadis is a platform that audits companies and grades them by the level of their sustainability standards. “Today we have a silver status; our target is to reach the gold status by 2022.”

“We want to be our customers’ first choice when it comes to sustainable solutions”, Karlsson explains their vision. And because it’s so obvious that this is the only path forward, he says, other companies are now also putting a lot of resources into this race. “There are a lot of initiatives with our competitors too, which is positive for the industry. But we are taking on the  responsibility of being the market leader, by for example taking part in developing industry standards on national, European and a global level. Investing in our own recycling plants for post-consumer recycled material, and besides that we’re working together with our polyethylene virgin suppliers to understand how chemical recycling should be applied in our line of business. So we have a broader scope in our sustainability work than most of our competitors.”

A last chance to change

The question is, is sustainability market-driven or is it more related to EU regulations? “I think it’s both”, Karlsson answers. “In many areas where the consumer is active, you see society pushing, there it’s consumer-driven. But in areas where there’s no push from society, the EU wants to help pick up the pace. That’s why they put this very tough target on the industry to find a way to recycle at least 10 million tons of plastic per year by 2025. And if the EU doubts the industry will reach that target, they will put other measures in.”

It’s something the EU has already started, Karlsson says. “To cover for brexit and the additional costs of Covid, they have added an additional fee for each country related to how much plastic waste is not recycled. And it’s quite a high fee, which will be applied as of January 1st.”

The aim to reach 10 million tons of recycled plastics in the EU in 2025 is the Circular Plastics Alliance’s target. “The purpose is to give the industry a last chance to change. It’s really the industry’s opportunity to take control of its own destiny.”

It’s all about taking responsibility for the situation, Karlsson says, by working together throughout the value chain. “So with our suppliers, our customers, the end customers, and not in the least the collectors and recyclers of waste. Without involving the partners in the value chain, you can never be circular. By working together, you can create a loop of material.”

The silver bullet

A lot depends on the available technology. You should never underestimate the development  of technology, Karlsson says, “because what we know today, we thought was impossible two years ago. When I started working at Trioplast, it seemed impossible to put post-consumer recycled content into stretch film. And now we can; we have launched products with well above 25 percent recycled content. So what we thought was impossible two years ago is now a reality.”

Another interesting development involves chemical recycling. “We see a lot of our polyethylene producers working to find a solution for chemical recycling. It sounds very challenging, but there are a lot of smart people working on that. If it works, it will be the silver bullet. But at this point it’s very expensive, because of its high energy consumption and so it’s not necessarily environmental friendlier than virgin material. So there are some challenges to sort out before we get there.”

“I think in two years’ time we will have many more solutions to choose from. I don’t want to limit what we can achieve.”