Recently, we are increasingly being asked if our black flower bucket is coloured with carbon black and whether we have an alternative available. Dillewijn Zwapak has been supplying black plastic flower buckets for years. Although not directly visible from the outside, this is one of our most sustainable products. We explain below that a flower bucket coloured with carbon black is a sustainable choice.
Sustainable product from recycled material
The raw material of our bucket consists of 100% recycled polypropylene (rPP). This is a mono-material (without coating) which is properly recyclable, also in black. For years, we have been able to substantially reduce the environmental impact of our buckets. There is constant attention to the CO2 emissions and footprint of our raw materials, processes and products. Energy determines a large part of the environmental
impact. Our suppliers are very concerned with energy saving and they generate part of the energy needed with solar energy. They continue to develop the application of new injection moulding techniques for
producing thinner and less environmentally harmful products.
Why is there a discussion about carbon black?
Carbon black is a black dye. Carbon black is cheap and readily available. Carbon black is basically soot
(carbon particles). Carbon black absorbs light, all light (including infrared), hence the deep black colour.
In the recycling of plastics, during the sorting process, use is made of the near-infrared (NIR) scanning
technique. The NIR scanner creates a ‘fingerprint’ of the product based on the reflection of light. Because the light is absorbed by the black of the carbon black and not reflected, the sorting process cannot recognise the product. As a result, it ends up in the residual waste stream and is incinerated. This is not sustainable and not circular.
Is the carbon black discussion a problem with our buckets?
Carbon black is particularly relevant to products that end up in consumer waste (post-consumer recycling). Our bucket hardly ever gets to that stage (post-industrial recycling). We prefer to take back our current good product and recycle it to a high standard, in which a bucket becomes a bucket again. No low-quality recycling of the bucket into a park bench or pole. We gladly take our buckets in (= valuable raw material).
Of course, on request, we can also provide buckets in other colours that are detectable. For example, our grey bucket is detectable. Our customers ask us: Why is a detectable bucket more expensive? Unfortunately, it is not just a matter of adding another dye, because we must also take into account another composition of the basic raw material (our current basic raw material, recycled polypropylene (rPP), now includes too much
carbon black). For a lighter colour bucket, which is detectable, we must purchase more selectively, because not all recycled material is suitable for use. Consider in this respect a mixture with a lighter colour. Because there is more demand for this, this has consequences for the price.
Reuse is one of the strategies in a circular economy. Our current light thin bucket is designed for single use. Buckets that are suitable for repeated use are thicker and sturdier and therefore have a higher impact on the environment (more material, heavier, less efficient logistics etc.).
From a practical point of view, we do not believe in rinsing the existing buckets in order to use them again. A rinsing process is labour-intensive. The risk of bacterial contamination due to humid conditions increases significantly. After rinsing, buckets often stay wet and then stick together, making unstacking very difficult. Quite apart from the associated environmental impact of rinsing and the use of chemicals.
In practice, there are many different types of buckets. Even buckets that come from one and the same
supplier may show slight size differences that disrupt the mechanical unstacking and sorting process. Broken buckets also cause problems. For this reason, Dillewijn Zwapak has opted to recycle only its own buckets.
Although not immediately visible from the outside, our current carbon black coloured flower bucket is one of our most sustainable products. It is made entirely from recycled material. We therefore believe in recovering our buckets (good raw material) and turning them into clean, new and beautiful buckets again.
This fits in entirely with our mission: Dillewijn Zwapak wants to be the leading organization for all those involved in the horticultural industry by innovation in sustainable processes and products. We supply packaging, floristry articles and decoration material with respect for people and the planet.