Many customers who get their lifting equipment inspected every 6 months are unaware that Plastic Tags have been used by inspection companies solely for branding purposes and are in fact a Non-Legal Requirement. Tags are actually solely an internal requirement for companies to use as a visual indicator to track the visibility of items on site being inspected or out of date, there is no legal obligation for any company to place plastic identification tags on their equipment.
Now there are some obligations such as SWL stickers needing to be placed of equipment and obviously the GA1 cert is the most important and a legal requirement by governing bodies, but are the pros of using Plastic Tags outweighed by the cons of damaging the environment and adding to the Global Plastic Issue which has become all of our problems in recent times and does not seem to be getting any better?
According to SEBE "The construction industry is the second largest user of plastic, with 20% of plastic waste coming from the construction sector. It is estimated we produce globally 300MT of plastic annually with 50% of this being single use".
We looked at our own sister company, in 2019, KMS estimated that they alone applied 18,000 plastic tags to items of lifting equipment such as shackles, chains, slings etc whilst there was no legal requirement to do so and no laws or regulations preventing them from doing so.
There isn't even any regulation to tell Test engineers what to do with the waste when removing old tags. Is this not the most clear cut example of companies not being held accountable for our actions? There are many Large companies in Ireland, its a competitive market, how many tags do you think are being applied? Hundreds of Thousands? We predict Millions, and that is not just a wild guess; we have seen tenders where the client had 50,000 items every 6 months, that is 100,000 plastic tags per year, in Ireland for 1 Client....which is hard to comprehend for such a small island.
A recent conversation with a long time customer who works in the Marine Industry led to a couple of frightening insights. Our customer mentioned how its only in the last year that their company has become worried about plastic products with their name on it "ending up potentially on someone's plate!"
Although this is an extreme example, it begs the question why would their not be a regulation enforcing GA1 Inspection companies such as KMS to NOT BE ALLOWED to provide Plastic Identification Tags when inspecting items to industries like this. On a lesser level, ground works employees will often tell you how items have just been "buried when cleaning up the site" which is a disgusting thought.
From January 2020 our sister company KMS have stopped supplying tags and so have we. This is part of our CSR initiatives to try and reduce the amount of resources we consume/use and do our part. Not everyone will understand and agree as i know their are alternatives such as BioDegradable Tags appearing now, but this stance (which we are delighted to see some of our customers adapting also) is hopefully the first step of many positive actions regarding Environmental Sustainability & Responsible Economic Practices that we will take going forward.