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Cologne, 8 October 2019. In 2018, Der Grüne Punkt saved through recovery and recycling of packaging waste about 950,000 tons of CO2 equivalents. This is one result of the 2018 Environmental Performance Balance, which is also part of the new 2017/2018 Sustainability Report. “That’s as much CO2 as about 95,000 hectares of forest filter out of the air each year – in view of the ongoing forest dieback, this comparison becomes even more explosive,” says Michael Wiener, CEO of Der Grüne Punkt. “Even in the past, the circular economy had been making a significant contribution towards CO2 reduction in Germany. It could contribute even more – its potentials are being completely underestimated.”
The hot summer, dry weather and dying forests in Germany and Europe show once again that anthropogenic climate change is one of the most important challenges of the present day. This has long since been the view not only of scientists, but also of large proportions of the populace. There is not much discussion in this context of the major contribution the circular economy is already making now towards saving climatologically harmful greenhouse gases and what potentials could still be utilized.
Prize-winning flagship projects and an online tool for measuring recyclability
The Sustainability Report provides information on numerous flagship projects, which include the first packages for cosmetic products, utilizing plastics obtained from the Yellow Sack and for which Der Grüne Punkt was awarded the 2019 German Packaging Prize. They show what’s possible, in terms of plastics recycling in particular, and what packages have already made the journey “from shelf to shelf”, i.e. are remaining in the closed cycle and thus saving large quantities of CO2.
Der Grüne Punkt has for many years now been helping to accurately quantify the recyclability of (plastic) packages, and to redesign what are currently not very recycling-friendly packages. Many consumers wish for more sustainable packages. Their demands, as well as digitalization and the new statutory provisions, are fuelling an upturn in this service. Manufacturers can obtain an initial picture of how recyclable their packages are with the aid of RecyclingCOMPASS (www.gruener-punkt.de/en/recyclingcompass), using objective criteria that image thecyclos-HTP standard, and meet the minimum standard of the Central Packaging Registry (ZSVR).
The contribution of the circular economy towards climate protection sets new standards
Whereas in the transportation sector, for instance, no reduction has been recorded since 1990, the waste management and circular-economy sectors alone had up to 2010, with 56 million tons of CO2 equivalents, contributed one quarter of the greenhouse gas savings achieved since 1990 – landfills were closed down and separate collection of packages, for example, was significantly progressed. According to a 2016 study from the Eco-Institute, the recovery of sales packages in 2014 alone avoided the emission of 3.1 million tons of greenhouse gas. “And a lot has happened since then,” adds Michael Wiener. “Technical progress continues to advance, and the recycling targets are rising, due not least to the German Packaging Act.” So the climatic contributions made by packaging recycling will also increase.
Plastics recycling could contribute even more
And even more would be possible: “At present, only small quantities of plastic recyclates are being used in products instead of new plastic. But very much more would be possible if the politicians and the industrial sector were to do more for developing the market,” avers Dr. Markus Helftewes, General Manager at Der Grüne Punkt. Plastic recyclates, especially those of higher quality, are currently more expensive than comparable new merchandise made from petroleum – the reasons are the low oil price and external costs not incorporated in the price, such as the environmental impact from greenhouse gases. “Only six percent of the plastics produced in Europe come from recycling,” he explains, “which cause a chicken-or-the-egg problem: the small production quantities make recycled plastic expensive, and the higher price causes demand to stagnate. This means there is not enough money for capacity upsizing.”
It can be demonstrated here that recycled plastic saves up to 50 percent CO2 compared to equivalent new plastic. More recycling could accordingly also contribute towards achieving the climate targets specified, and limiting climate change. The Environmental Performance Balance of Der Grüne Punkt evidences how much the natural environment benefits from separate collection and recovery of used sales packages. In 2018, for instance, the Der Grüne Punkt Group recovered and recycled a good 1.6 million tons of packaging waste – this corresponds to the weight of 113 of the biggest lignite diggers at the Garzweiler open-cast mine near Cologne. “There’s meanwhile a plan in place in Germany for discontinuing lignite-based electricity production – it would be equally important to make progress on utilizing plastic in a closed cycle,” urges Michel Wiener.
Background: Sustainability Report and Environmental Performance Balance from Der Grüne Punkt
The 2017/2018 Sustainability Report from Der Grüne Punkt has been drawn up in conformity with the guidelines laid down by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and meets the core option. The report has been validated by GUTcert. The Sustainability Report provides insights into the value added chain of the Green Dot companies, their various divisions and their prospects. Informational elements highlight flagship projects, such as the Frosch Senses shower gel bottle made of Systalen PRIMUS HDPE, for which Der Grüne Punkt was awarded the 2019 German Packaging Prize. Staff from the group’s various companies report on their work from their own personal viewpoints.
Der Grüne Punkt publishes an annual Environmental Performance Balance detailing the impact of collection, sorting and recovery of sales packages. The calculations involved, which are based on the recognized methods of environmental balance computation, are checked and confirmed by the IFEU Institute (Institute for Energy and Environmental Research) as an expert appraiser. With the aid of this instrument, Der Grüne Punkt has since 2001 been reviewing each year the impact of refuse separation and packaging recycling on the natural environment. Since 2007, customers have been receiving a certificate detailing their individual contribution towards environmental protection through Der Grüne Punkt.
Your contact person:
Norbert Völl, Tel.: +49 (0) 22 03 / 937-507
About the Der Grüne Punkt Group:
The companies of Der Grüne Punkt are service providers for extended producer responsibility, leading suppliers of secondary raw materials for plastics, and premium producers of plastic recyclates, and as such positioned as the premier solution providers for the needs of the circular economy. Der Grüne Punkt – Duales System Deutschland GmbH (DSD) is the market leader of the dual systems in Germany, and stands for intelligent take-back systems, plus the development and marketing of innovative recyclates and services. Systec Plastics, at its facilities in Eisfeld and Hörstel, produces premium-quality recyclates under the Systalen brand name for the international market. The companies are grouped together in DSD – Duales System Holding GmbH & Co. KG.