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Case study: Plastribution works with tote box manufacturer to reduce carbon footprint

Polymer distributor, Plastribution, has recently worked with Devon-based Casting Support Systems (CSS) Group, to manufacture a tote box with reduced carbon footprint. According to Plastribution, the move was made possible by substituting traditional thermoplastics in its standard PP mix with climate positive UBQ from UBQ Materials. × Untitled design - 1 As a member of a group of companies, Versatote designs and manufactures plastic products for the warehousing and logistics sectors, which includes its own range of industrial-grade totes and associated products. 

Given the sustainability challenges of the logistics sector, CSS looked to develop a 100% sustainable tote box for the Versatote business. According to the group they were already achieving high levels of product sustainability through the use of recycled material, and the inclusion of UBQ would further help reduce their carbon footprint, while also meeting the demands of Versatote’s increasingly eco-conscious customer base. 

As a long standing customer, CSS was aware that Plastribution had been actively promoting its Sustainable Materials Portfolio, which includes a range of materials from a number of key supply partners. Following discussions, CSS was introduced to UBQ Materials, a developer of materials, which produces UBQ, a thermoplastic composite converted from 100% unsorted household waste. UBQ is used to substitute plastics, minerals, and wood in thousands of everyday durable end-products. The use of UBQ in place of these materials diverts waste, prevents emissions, and reduces the net carbon footprint of final products.

The  technology utilises the waste as feedstock for a multi-chamber reactor which breaks down organic waste to its basic particles, which are bonded and reattached with the mixed plastics in a new thermoplastic matrix. Through a proprietary process, the mixed waste stream – containing organic elements like food waste, garden trimmings, paper, cardboard, diapers, and packaging materials – is converted into an entirely homogeneous composite material that can be  utilised in existing processes and machinery.

A Life Cycle Assessment auditing UBQ concludes that its production prevents up to 12x its own weight in CO?eq emissions, making it the most climate positive thermoplastic on the market. Using one ton of UBQ in place of virgin polypropylene can save an estimated 14.5 tons of CO?eq emissions. 

With a simple material swap, CSS group is able to divert waste from landfills, prevent GHG emissions, preserve natural resources, increase bio-based and post-consumer recycled content, and advance their circular economy.

All aspects of tote box manufacture were reviewed with the addition of UBQ  material, including the entire life cycle and the environments that it will have to interact with, such as automation systems, robots, loading and unloading systems, transport, cold stores as well as the human element. This meant that the physical properties of the product needed to be maintained, while at the same time providing a more climate positive solution. The substitution of polypropylene with UBQ at the incorporated level created no impact on the physical properties of the tote box.

Chris Danby, Versatote’s sales manager said: “Plastribution has been one of our most trusted suppliers for over 25 years and we knew we could count on them to provide the backup we required on this project, The UBQ material is perfect for our needs, providing us with a means to aim for climate positivity with no noticeable drop in performance.”

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Publication date: 12/01/2023

European Plastic Product Manufacturer

This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2022-01-31