This week, SAP UKI announced plans to work with partners to pilot a “Plastics Cloud,” which will collect existing and live data from across the plastics supply chain to spark new ideas for waste reduction. The Plastics Cloud will use the power of SAP Leonardo, including machine learning, to compile information which can be used to forecast trends in plastics purchasing and recycling, enabling services to meet demand. Data could also be shared with consumers to help them understand their own plastics impact. The announcement will be made on September 21 at the London Design Festival, which has named plastics as its ‘material of the year’ in a bid to reduce single-use plastics by repurposing it in new and more valuable ways.
“At SAP, we believe that companies have the power to create life-changing innovation and we’re committed to helping achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals,” according to Jens Amail, Managing Director UK and Ireland at SAP. “The Plastics Cloud is part of that commitment. We need to find a better way to use data. There’s so much information being generated within the plastics supply chain, but there’s no single source of access for that information. We hope the Plastics Cloud will serve as another piece of the puzzle to solving the problem of plastic waste.”
Technology partners to The UK Plastics Pact
As part of the program, SAP has become a member of the UK Plastics Pact. This world-first collaboration brings together governments, local authorities, NGOs and businesses from across the entire plastics value chain to transform plastic packaging and help stop plastics polluting the environment. Managed by sustainability not-for-profit WRAP, the Pact has set the following 2025 goals:
- Eliminate problematic or unnecessary single-use packaging through redesign, innovation or alternative (reuse) delivery models.
- 100 percent of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable
- 70 percent of plastic packaging effectively recycled or composted
- 30 percent average recycled content across all plastic packaging
“We are delighted to have SAP sign up to The UK Plastics Pact,” said WRAP CEO Marcus Gover. “By working together in collaboration with businesses, governments and citizens we will transform the way we make, use and dispose of plastic so that we retain its value but prevent it from polluting the environment. As the first technology business to become a member and through its Plastics Cloud, SAP is helping us drive innovative thinking to reduce plastic waste within the packaging sector by 2025 – a key goal for the Pact.”
Rethinking the whole value chain of plastic ...
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Meanwhile, Finnish startup Sulapac is working to do its part to help the world break free from plastic with its fully biodegradable plastic packaging alternative, made solely from sustainably harvested wood and natural binders.
Sulapac co-founders Suvi Haimi and Laura Kyllönen met while studying biochemistry at Finland’s Tampere University of Technology, where Haimi was advisor for Kyllönen’s doctoral thesis; the two bonded over a shared passion for saving the planet from plastic waste and founded Sulapac in 2016.
So, the two put their heads together and created Sulapac — a biodegradable and microplastic-free material made from renewable sources and FSC-certified wood that can be used as packaging for everything from cosmetics to foodstuff to gift boxes and more.
As Haimi explained, an added benefit to Sulapac is that it reinvents packaging material without manufacturers having to reinvent their own processes.
“It has all the benefits of plastic, yet it biodegrades completely and leaves no microplastics behind,” she said. “Our first innovation was the fully biodegradable, microplastic-free material recipe; the second innovation was the technology — how plastic manufacturers can use their existing machinery with our material.”
The company’s goal is for Sulapac to become the go-to plastic alternative for consumer packaged goods worldwide, and it has a number of partnerships to achieve this: A collaboration with Finnish food giant Fazer aims to create gift packaging for Fazer’s premium bakery and confectionery products that combine sustainable development with a hint of luxury; while a development agreement with Stora Enso is focused on fully renewable caps and closures for liquid packages, as well as food and consumer electronics packaging. Sulapac launched packaging for its first brand customer, Finnish luxury cosmetic brand Niki Newd, in March 2017.