If you were to list the big trends of 2018, at the top of the list would be sustainability. The world has witnessed a significantly increased emphasis on developments relating to plastic packaging, electric vehicles, battery technology, circular economy models, and much more.
With innovation advancing in every direction, The Manufacturer has reported on the different stances manufacturers have taken regarding their sustainability journeys during 2018.
We’ve seen a way to convert mixed plastics back into oil, which uses heat in the absence of oxygen to recycle the plastic waste that mechanical recycling cannot.
Swindon-based Recycling Technologies is on a mission to spread plastic recycling technology into scalable units across the globe, from which all communities could benefit.
Its machine, the RT7000, can take in plastic waste that is commonly considered unrecyclable – films, crisp packets, food pouches, laminated boxes, wine bladders and coloured plastics – and convert it to valuable commodities.
We’ve also seen a circular economy model introduced into a plastics manufacturer that will enable the business to use plastic waste from local communities in their products. This alongside the government’s initiative to innovate plastic production and use.
Packaging & materials
In packaging news, we met up with ‘flat’ wine bottle business, Garçon Wines’ CEO & founder, Santiago Navarro who is producing wine in 100% post-consumer recycled Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles.
And from a small start-up like Garçon Wines to Coca-Cola, which announced an industry-first goal to help collect and recycle the equivalent of every bottle or can sold worldwide by 2030.
Young entrepreneur, Rowan Minkley, co-founder & CEO of Chip[s] Board LTD, meanwhile devised materials that are sustainable alternatives to chipboard and MDF made from discarded potato waste. This because MDF, despite being made of 80% wood, is not recyclable.
With the government announcing that Britain will end the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040, automotive manufacturers have looked to restructure their business models to accommodate this. The Manufacturer asked if that was fair on the industry.
This initiative forms part of plans to make the UK world-leading in electric and energy efficient vehicles.
The Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) awarded £35m of government funding to three UK-based innovative low carbon powertrain projects in August, who are looking to revolutionise the automotive industry.
A YouGov poll The Manufacturer analysed in July found that more than half of executives (52%) expect their products to be low carbon by 2028.
No doubt, the UK has been considering its energy options for sometime. The Manufacturer reported in June that the £1.3bn Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon was rejected by the government on grounds of cost.
Despite this, earlier this month the government pledged up to £170m of funding allocated to energy-intensive industries like glass, steel, ceramics and chemical to help them develop new green technologies and create the world’s first ‘net-zero’ carbon cluster of heavy industry.
And finally we also reported that new battery tech could solve renewable energy issues by replacing finite material Lithium with Sodium.
These are just a handful of the important sustainability stories we have covered this year, as it becomes increasingly clear that this concern will play a big role in business strategy in 2019 and years to come.
Smart Factory Expo is Europe’s largest digital manufacturing show – presenting the most extensive free programme of presentations across seven stages, 150+ exhibitors, and thousands of digitally-savvy manufacturers.
It is the largest component of Digital Manufacturing Week, an annual celebration of UK manufacturing excellence that takes place every November in Liverpool. This year saw 5,322 visitors to Digital Manufacturing Week (up 36% on 2017).