The growing focus on corporate sustainability goals has many organizations prioritizing eco-conscious initiatives, both as good business practice and in response to their customers’ and stakeholders’ environmental concerns. Manufacturers and brands that use plastic injection molded parts and products struggle with achieving resin related sustainability goals as legacy injection molding technology and systems are limited to a very narrow range of materials able to be used on any given production line. These limitations constrain efforts to expand plastics sustainability, as they render wide-spread usage of previously discarded plastics — post-consumer recyclables (PCR), highly untenable.
However, recent innovations in injection molding technology and equipment promise virtually every plastics producer and brand owner the option of incorporating a broader range of PCR resins into their current production system. Doing so moves the company closer to attaining its sustainability goals while also responding directly to global environmental concerns.
Why Pursue Sustainability Goals
The data suggests that companies earnestly operating to achieve sustainability goals will likely benefit from those efforts. Moreover, by actively implementing the three concepts of a sustainable business1 (building profit by protecting the planet’s resources to improve the lives of people), they are also growing their potential consumer base:
- A 2021 study2 revealed that sustainability is growing as a priority for consumers. A full 85% of study respondents intentionally shifted their buying decisions towards sustainable objectives in the previous five years.
- In that same study, 73% of Americans said they would stop buying from companies that were not attentive to environmental issues.
- Another study3 indicated that almost three in four online searches (71%) specified sustainable goods over the same period.
- The vast majority of respondents to a 2021 inquiry4 (88%) indicated that sustainable activities should be embedded as standard business practices for all companies. Further research enhanced that sentiment: more than 2/3 of American adults (68%)5 commented that corporations should also publicly report their environmental activities.
The consensus underscored by these studies demonstrates that consumers’ interest in protecting the planet can significantly impact their purchasing decisions. Therefore, organizations that want to attract the consumer’s attention (and their loyalty) should be transparent about their sustainability goals and their actions to achieve them.
When looking at the sustainability objectives of large companies there is almost always one related to energy consumption and carbon footprint reduction. Oftentimes when it comes to plastic, brands will have goals around reducing the use of virgin plastics and increasing the use of PCRs. Another common objective seen among large brands is a goal to ensure all packaging is recyclable.
iMFLUX Introduces Plastics Sustainability Technology
In an industry first, iMFLUX is proud to introduce an injection molding technology innovation that will finally empower plastic injection molded part and product producers to embrace and pursue all of these sustainability goals.
It facilitates the Use of Alternative Resins …
… To reduce the demand for virgin resin resources.
The iMFLUX platform uses low-constant-pressure injection molding processes to control the flow rate of resin materials as they are injected into the mold. Its Auto Viscosity AdjustTM (AVA) feature10 facilitates the ability to run PCR resin with variable viscosity, which replaces the virgin plastic resins demanded by conventional systems. The digitally controlled technology automatically adjusts fill pressure when it detects variations in material viscosity due to that mixed feedstock seen in PCR.
… To ensure recyclability of packages.
The capacity to use alternative materials is also enabled by iMFLUX. For example, in many package types a polyethylene material wouldn’t be used in injection molding because the pressure required to process the material would reach machine limitations. With iMFLUX and its low-constant-pressure molding platform, package designers can rethink material options and create monomaterial packages. Monomaterial packages are those packages which have every portion created from the same resin type (polyethylene or polypropylene), significantly improving the sortation of the package when it reaches end of life and providing a huge opportunity to advance recycling volume.
It lightweights products.
The low-constant-pressure injection molding process fills the mold slowly to allow the material to cool, densify and pack-as-it-fills, leading to lighter weight parts. The ability to thin wall or lightweight parts can make significant progress toward a manufacturer or brand achieving their virgin resin reduction goals.
It reduces Scope 1 & 3 Emissions across the supply chain.
Commonly in injection molding, scope 1 emissions are those emissions from the injection molder during the manufacturing process. Scope 3 emissions are those generated by the injection molder that contribute parts to the brand owner’s final assembled product. iMFLUX enables energy savings on each injection molding machine it operates on, providing both a reduction in scope 1 and 3 emissions. Energy savings are seen when operating at a low-constant-pressure, improving cycle time, reducing clamp tonnage, reducing melt temperatures, and more.
Setting and pursuing sustainability goals is an increasingly important strategy for any corporation seeking to maintain its consumer market as well as promote environmentally responsible practices. The iMFLUX platform now offers plastic injection molded part and product manufacturers a viable tool that they can use to revise and enhance the sustainability goals they’ve established. Contact the iMFLUX team today to learn more about how their ecologically friendly innovation can improve the productivity of your injection molding operations.