Best Practice: Towards Circularity in Strapping Technology and Transport Security Solutions

To meet the demands of today’s world, the plant and mechanical engineering industry is gearing up their businesses for establishing a circular economy and higher levels of sustainability. But politics must also play its part to enable the industry to keep working on new solutions.

To provide an overview of how far German companies from the plant and mechanical engineering sector have come in terms of sustainability and circular economy, drupa’s partner association VDMA regularly surveys companies on these issues. The family-run Mosca GmbH, managed by Simone and Timo Mosca, is setting its sustainability course on closed-loop processes and energy efficiency in strapping technology and securing transport goods.

How Mosca Implements the Circular Economy in its Business

In Mosca’s plants an eco-friendly approach is promoted at many different points, for instance, plastics are produced additively without waste. Residual materials from other production processes are separated by type into different fractions. This allows, for example, metals and plastics to be returned to the material cycles. In addition, more and more modern energy-efficient production techniques are being used, and drive technology is being converted from pneumatic to electric. In the production of plastic belts, the company pays attention to consistent recycling. A complete recirculation into the process of production waste and start-up losses also benefits their efforts around circular economy.

Since the plastic used for plastic straps is 100% recyclable, Mosca uses an agreement with large customers that requires them to collect the straps and return them to Mosca for recycling. These plastic straps come in three types of plastic. PET, polypropylene, and the industrially compostable bioplastic PLA. PET consists of shredded PET bottles that cannot be returned to the beverage market material cycle. With PLA, care must be taken to ensure that it is fully composted and does not end up in the wrong cycle, as it can have a negative impact on recyclables.

However, the sustainable use of plastic strapping in a circular economy is nowhere near the point where the company would like it to be:

“However, direct cycles are difficult to implement from a logistical and economic point of view. This is because the used tapes have a large volume with little weight, as long as they are not shredded.” – Timo Mosca, CEO of Mosca GmbH

This and other problems are constantly being researched and worked on with partner companies.

Currently, for example, the specialist for strapping technology and transport security is working on energy-efficient strapping technology with electric drives. Another case is their cooperation with Japanese specialists to develop a solution for the industrial processing of paper tapes made from several layers of paper and natural resins.

Digitalization also has a key impact on sustainability at Mosca: Thanks to IoT, AI, and predictive maintenance solutions, machines can run more smoothly, their life cycle is extended, and less scrap is produced.

Sustainability: A European Phenomenon?

According to Mosca’s assessment, the circular competence of companies is mainly worked on in European countries. However, awareness and interest are also growing in other countries and continents, such as the USA. Unfortunately, threshold countries have not yet developed an interest in the subject, as they have other problems to focus on. Thankfully, initiatives such as Plastic-Bank are working to support these countries with sustainability issues.

“It is about establishing waste collection systems locally and creating awareness that the raw materials which contain a value does [sic] not end up in the environment.”

Differences do not only arise from regional circumstances, though. The question of whether solutions are intended only for the B2B market or end-customer business is also decisive.

Teamwork instead of Finger Pointing

When it comes to how politics can make the circular economy possible for companies in the plant and metal construction industry, Mosca has a clear opinion. Politics must leave room for solutions to be developed and found. The industry has a great interest in becoming more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Unfortunately, bureaucracy and regulations create unnecessary difficulties and obstacles. There is also a disparity between imported products and products from the EU. Imported products have more lax rules and controls. Legal loopholes and gray areas make it difficult to track where sustainability can be expanded.

In order for industry and politics to work together better, there should be no finger-pointing, but sustainability and the circular economy should be understood as a joint task:

“We have long since set out on this path. We have been looking for and finding solutions for a long time – of our own accord. In most cases, regulation hinders more than it helps.“

As you can see, many steps and constant work are necessary to implement a sustainable circular economy in a company. There are also both international and political hurdles. How do you see it? Do you think it will eventually become easier to establish a circular economy?

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