Characteristics of sustainable desiccants
In our previous Insight ’A clear view of sustainable logistics and the way to achieve it’, we mentioned that for many companies, the direction of logistics and supply chain development is driven by sustainability. We also introduced the importance of choosing sustainable suppliers in order to relieve stress on the environment.
As moisture absorber -desiccant- supplier to leading companies in the automotive, agricultural and electronic sectors, among others, we want to offer you guidance when considering environmental and sustainability targets in your choice of desiccant supplier.
First but not the last, there are different types of desiccant agents. Some of them are artificial while others are made from natural resources, such as calcium chloride or clay. But the source of the agent is not the only thing to consider.
The absorption rate determines the desiccant’s capacity to absorb moisture from the air and is measured by the amount of absorbed water per kg desiccant. Choosing a high-capacity desiccant means you’ll need less of it for the same level of moisture protection. This means you’ll also save resources such as moisture absorbers’ agents, packaging, plastics and more.
Desiccant inner packaging material or structure
There are double- and single-layer desiccants to choose from. Many suppliers make double layer desiccants in order to avoid leaking or to refine the look of the moisture absorbers. However, double-layer means double packaging and requires more resources.
Single-layer desiccants can in turn feature one or two breathable sides, which is how the desiccant absorbs moisture. Single-layer desiccants can also have on the breathable side, in which case the other side is made of plastic or another material that is 100% impermeable.
Most moisture absorbers are made with different types of plastics, such as PE or PP, that keep the water that the desiccant has absorbed inside a compartment until the end of the shipment. If that’s the case, the desiccant plastic should meet three criteria:
- It should be made from recycled plastic.
- It should be reusable, preferably entirely or at least to some extent.
- It should be possible to recycle, preferably completely or at least in part.
Choosing a supplier that meets these inner packaging and structure criteria is important for companies looking to meet their sustainability goals. Desiccants that are possible to reuse or recycle at least in part are more environmentally friendly.
Desiccants come packed in a plastic bag inside a cardboard box. The reason is that desiccants need to reach the customer loading place in optimal shape to have full absorption capacity. If desiccants are not placed in a plastic bag prior to installation, or in airtight packaging, they would start to absorb moisture and their performance during shipment would be below the line. But plastic bags can be optimized to save finite resources, by choosing recycled and thinner options that do not compromise protection. Why use plastic with 80 microns thickness, when 20 microns will do the trick?
On the other hand, cardboard can be made from ethically planted trees or made of recycled cardboard. And overall, packaging can always be optimized to reduce the resources needed.
Environmental Management System
This characteristic does not relate to the desiccant itself, but to the company that produces it. Suppliers with the Environmental Management System ISO 14001 certification ensure that they have a framework to manage the environmental impact of their products, services, and processes. This means that these companies base their operations on sustainable principles and their goals include minimizing the environmental footprint or compliance with industry standards and environmental legislation.
Do you know the CO2 emissions generated by the production and sourcing of a desiccant? Measuring the carbon footprint (also known as climate impact or CO2 emissions) is the first step towards reducing it. Sustainable desiccants should have the lowest climate impact possible. Ideally, it should be carbon neutral, meaning all emissions from sourcing and production are zero.
Production and company employees
Least but not last, people and their well-being on top of working rights and a great working environment are part of a sustainable framework. Choosing a moisture absorber supplier who produces their desiccants in-house, allows you to trace the origin of their desiccants and production conditions. To ask for more information about your supplier’s commitment to Human and Labour Rights is no longer unusual. It is an important question that responsible and sustainable companies ask when sourcing potential suppliers.
Turning your logistics to sustainable is important and stretches further than reducing plastic use or choosing recycled cardboard. Choosing a desiccant that is in line with your sustainability strategy can help your company reach its sustainability goals.
We hope this Insight is useful to you and answers the most common questions about sustainable desiccants.