Trade bodies advocating development of functioning circular economy for plastics

Companies from Germany’s plastics and recycling sector want to work together to establish a functioning circular economy.

Three trade associations, Plastics Europe Deutschland, the German Association of Plastics Converters (GKV), and VDMA Plastics and Rubber Machinery, together with two organisations from the waste disposal and recycling sector, BDE and the Federal Association for Secondary Raw Materials and Waste Disposal (bvse), have issued a joint position paper announcing they are now pursuing the goal of benefiting even more from the benefits of plastics as a material.

The announcement states that plastics make a fundamental contribution to climate protection, and the more plastics that are reused, the greater the benefit to the material’s CO2 balance. This is confirmed by a recent study conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology (UMSICHT).

Transformation to circular economy in full swing

As the associations emphasise in their paper, the transformation of the plastics manufacturing industry to a more circular economy is already in full swing. This is because the industry has long since realised that post-consumer plastic products are not waste, but a valuable raw material. And while in the public debate there are still arguments about how to deal with the growing mountains of packaging waste, the plastics industry is already creating the conditions needed to keep its products within an environmentally friendly loop.

As the signatories of the position paper point out, faster progress towards achieving a more circular economy also involves fulfilling several important prerequisites, adopting target-oriented measures and having the right framework conditions. Accordingly, it is particularly important to take the end of a product’s life into consideration when developing and manufacturing it. As the sector’s associations make clear, this refers specifically to the recyclability of the respective product. This is because only products that can be economically recycled using industrial processes can become part of a circular economy. In this context, they emphasise that the German packaging industry has already made considerable investments in recycling-friendly product design. After all, the industry is already aiming for 90 per cent material recovery from household packaging by 2025.

Onus on the policy makers

If they are to realise this goal, however, the associations’ paper says companies need a clear commitment to new technologies at both the German and European levels, more openness towards innovation and a legal environment in which investments can be made safely and quickly. The five associations are appealing to the responsible decision-makers, as well as to environmental organisations, to put the change to a circular economy into practice.

The position paper contains detailed proposals on which areas need to be changed to provide the necessary impetus for the economy to become more circular.

Written by Dominy Jones

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