Der Grüne Punkt - 04. June 2020

Watchword for Environment Day: rescue recycled plastic!

Approx. ten percent more packaging waste / Plastics recycling is still a niche business and existentially threatened by the coronavirus crisis

New products can be created from recycled plastic – Environment Day

Cologne, 4 June 2020. To mark Environment Day 2020, Der Grüne Punkt is calling for the circular economy in Germany and in Europe to be purposefully progressed. “At present, precisely the opposite is happening: the market is collapsing. The extremely low price of oil and the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic constitute a massive threat to all successes and efforts for recycling plastic and retaining it in the circular economy,” warns Michael Wiener, CEO of Der Grüne Punkt. “Germany should use its presidency of the EU Council to encourage the development of a circular economy for plastic.”

Because of the coronavirus lockdown, the quantities of waste from private households in Germany are rising. Since March 2020, about ten percent more packaging waste is being found in the German Yellow Sack and the Yellow Bin. Though at the same time less waste is being created in the commercial and industrial sectors, because many firms have introduced short-time working and reduced their production output, the quantities of plastic packaging have nonetheless increased. “For reasons of hygiene, more items are being packaged, and restaurants were temporarily only able to offer takeaway services – which, of course, means plastic packaging,” to quote Michael Wiener.

Oil price shock hits recycling

Does this mean good business for recycling companies who process the waste and return it to the market as recyclates? No, the market is failing. An extremely low oil price renders plastic, whose price has been declining for years, even cheaper – the costs for producing recycled plastic, however, depend on quite different factors. Moreover, there has been no success so far in expanding production output and thus downsizing price levels through economies of scale. Plastics recycling is still a niche business. And: a number of customers for recycled plastics have reduced their production outputs, because in the crisis their products were no longer being purchased.

“The market for recycled plastic was supposed to grow rapidly. This is necessitated by climate protection and the need to solve the plastic crisis, which is causing massive environmental pollution. Instead, recycling is threatened with a downward spiral that could wipe out all the successes achieved so far,” says Michael Wiener. There is, he continues, a risk that this sector will be irretrievably crippled when the economy as a whole recovers. “This then means significantly higher consumption of resources, because the cycles have been interrupted, and significantly higher CO2 emissions because new plastic is being used instead of recyclates.”

More price fairness and utilization quotas for recyclates

Der Grüne Punkt is therefore calling on politicians to finally create a breakthrough in the circular economy for plastic: “Airlines are, of course, more fashionable than recycling plants – but the latter should not be forgotten when it comes to rescue packages for sectors at risk,” is Michael Wiener’s firm conviction. Specific measures should provide support for firms endangered by the coronavirus pandemic, and reduce the competitive disadvantage of plastic recyclates compared to new merchandise.

“We are experiencing a comprehensive failure of the market. Recycled plastic saves up to 50 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions generated by new plastic. Recyclate utilization targets to be reached for specified product groupings would constitute a massive boost for recyclate sales. As from July 2020, the German federal government will be taking over the presidency of the EU Council – a fine opportunity to progress appropriate action.”

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), with the Green Dot as its trademark, was among the companies to introduce and establish the dual system 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.

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