Cologne, 12 March 2021. In his opening speech, Jörg Deppmeyer, CEO of Der Grüne Punkt, demanded that the entire lifecycle of packaging materials be examined, in order to progress recycling of plastic packaging: “The complexity of packaging must be reduced so as to obtain better input material,” to quote Jörg Deppmeyer.
That was a view shared by Dr. Joachim Christiani from the cyclos-HTP Institute. It has long since been proved that packaging waste is first and foremost a raw material that can be recycled for high-grade re-use. In his presentation, Dr. Christiani explained that this “anthropogenic raw material can be crucially improved by means of Design4Recycling”. In contrast to natural raw materials, this material offers an option for creative goal-driven intervention. If, for example, the use of monomaterials were to be prioritized in the production of packaging, this would substantially facilitate its recycling since any recycling process is only conditionally able to sort packages made of several different plastics, so top-quality recovery of such packaging will usually be impossible.
In her presentation, Varinia Ruano from W. Müller GmbH described the technical options available for processing plastic recyclates in extrusion blow molding. She showed how the multilayer process enables plastic recyclates to be used in bottle bodies comprising two to three layers – without any significant quality impairments for the packaging produced. In this type of process, recyclates are used as the middle layer, with thin layers of virgin material applied as the outer layer and the layer coming into contact with the product. This also saves costs into the bargain because only the thin layers of virgin material have to be dyed with expensive pigments. What is more, these bottles are 100 percent recyclable since all layers consist of the same material (here PE).
Sven Sassin, Head of Quality Management at Der Grüne Punkt, called for regulations – primarily in the field of foods – that make it easier to use plastic recyclates. “Food management systems that boost the use of recyclates in food packaging must be introduced,” he added. Plastic recyclates are already very suitable for producing packaging for cosmetics. “The requirements laid down in the REACH Regulation are met both for rinse-off and for leave-on products, so plastic recyclates can be used,” he said.
Dipl. Ing. Helmut Spaeter from BARRIOPAC® explained how a functional barrier can serve to close the loop in the field of food and cosmetics packaging. He, too, regarded it as imperative to examine the entire lifecycle of plastic packaging materials, so as to progress their recycling. A point that attracts his criticism is the fact that many manufacturers advertise their use of post-industrial recyclates (PIRs) for producing their packages. “That’s not fair because you have to likewise process post-consumer recyclates (PCRs) in order to close the loop,” demanded Helmut Spaeter.
Thorsten Weber, Head of Applications Engineering and Production Technology at Der Grüne Punkt, started by addressing the question of who is responsible for translating a universally embraced circular economy into hands-on reality. Besides the legislator, all protagonists along the entire value added chain have a responsibility here. Thorsten Weber showed numerous applications, both in products and in packaging, where recyclates are already being used. But, he went on to say, there is hardly any know-how among plant and machinery manufacturers in regard to the production and use of recyclates, that is available only further downstream at the packaging producers. An intensified exchange along the value added chain for packaging is urgently required.
In conclusion, Jörg Deppmeyer demanded that financial incentives be provided for the use of plastic recyclates. “Though recycling of plastic packaging for higher-grade re-use is indeed possible, it is not always commercially viable,” said Jörg Deppmeyer. A properly functioning market for plastic recyclates must be put in place because it is only a higher level of demand that gives recycling companies the requisite security of investment, enabling them to upgrade recovery lines and systems. “Such economies of scale would boost the competitiveness of plastic recyclates compared to virgin material and result in further quantum leaps,” added Jörg Deppmeyer.
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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.