In 1955, a Swedish engineer invented the plastic bag as we know it today. Sten found that his product was much more resistant than the usual paper bags of the time, so it could be reused countless times. Yes, plastic bags were created as an alternative to paper bags, to solve an environmental problem, since the massive felling of trees involved in paper bags was highly detrimental to the environment. But the solution ended up becoming part of the problem, not because of the material itself, but because of the way it has been used.
But thanks to companies like MachinePoint and its customers, a new revolution is taking place, in which companies are no longer betting on single-use plastic, but on recycling. The circular economy and biodegradable materials help to build a better future.
Thulin, creator of the plastic bag. BBC.
When Sten Gustaf Thulin created the plastic bag, it never crossed his mind that people would just throw them away. But of course, his invention was so cheap, convenient and easy to produce consumers no longer perceived its value. Instead of reusing them, they turned them into single-used items.
For all these reasons, manufacturing plastic bags was a good business that seemed to have no end. Cheap raw material, end product with almost unlimited demand, proven technology...Thus, plastic bag manufacturing companies were springing up all over the world.
Plastic bag patent. Disposable America.
However, at the end of the 20th century, a new environmentalist trend emerged in the world, concerned about the damage that single-use plastic and the mismanagement of its recycling was causing to the environment. Therefore, everything changed.
It was no longer as profitable, and the cutthroat competition began to take its toll. One of our clients in Europe was forced to reinvent themselves and relied on us to help them do it.
This company was founded in the 1970s, with its main product being plastic bags. After several years of prosperity the crisis came, and in the mid-1990s the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. The workers instead of giving up, decided to buy back the company and try to move forward.
After several difficult years, in 2008 they changed course towards a more sustainable and profitable future. They decided to abandon raw materials derived from fossil fuels and to start using recycled material and biopolymers of plant origin as raw materials to manufacture composite plastic bags, gloves and films.
After making the decision to focus on innovation and production with social and environmental value they contacted MachinePoint. They needed machinery that was affordable and yet could start producing immediately.
MachinePoint searched, reviewed and adapted the machinery necessary for the dream of this company: To make money by creating a better world.
Compostable bag making equipment marketed by MachinePoint.
In 2007 they had 30 employees. Today there are more than 60, with a turnover of more than 30 million euros, and they are the reference in Europe in the manufacturing of compost plastics from biopolymers of plant origin and recycled material. Nothing is thrown away in their production process, not even their waste, which is recovered and returned to the production chain, making them one of the world's leading exponents of circular economy and recycling within the industry.
Plastic is not our enemy, but rather a material that has brought great solutions to our world and has allowed human well-being never before achieved, which would be unimaginable without plastic. No other product today can replace it in its entirety. Many of the solutions that are presented to the world as supposedly "ecological" such as paper or glass are also very harmful to the environment and create greater problems than plastic.
The key is in the recycling, not in the material, and the challenge is to achieve a real circular economy with less dependence on raw materials derived from fossil sources and a greater use of what we call garbage. As hard as it may be to believe, our waste is valuable, and we dispose of it without thinking or recycling it. MachinePoint and its customers are committed to the redesign of packaging to make it more sustainable and easy to recycle, the boost of the recycling industry, and the need to increase the recycling rate in all areas of our lives. Recycling our plastic waste is not only valuable but necessary, and every member of the chain has to do their part in making this possible, from industrial producers to consumers and governments; it is everyone's job.
Sten Gustaf Thulin never thought that his fantastic invention would have the opposite effect for which he created it. Fortunately companies like our client's still believe in that dream. They still trust that selling with our Planet in mind is not a business, but an obligation. They still believe that the future we create today will be tomorrow's present for our children and our future generations.
In MachinePoint we believe it also.