Linking arms for big rewards

Succeeding in business and driving innovation require that a company knows every facet of its line of business. The Dual System and circular economy market is especially shaped by the political framework. Supply and demand are governed by many more factors than in other markets. Decisions made in Brussels and Berlin have a direct impact on what happens in the market. Consequently, this issue plays a special role in our sustainability strategy.

A second life for newspapers and the like (left page): Recycled fibers are turned into new paper. Our Sustainability Report was also printed on certified recycled paper.

Economic sustainability not only hinges on us budgeting properly. We have only an indirect impact on the economic stability of the Dual System – it hinges to a considerable extent on the political framework, the existence and effective use of enforcement, and the actions taken by other market players. Misconduct by competitors is problematic every- where, but it can pose a direct risk to our existence in the very special market of the Dual System.

In 2014, a dangerous funding gap opened up when there was a shortfall of payments for packaging in the Dual System. This gap had to be closed with support from the retail trade. A revision of the German Packaging Ordinance helped close the first loopholes, as did a new version of clearing agreements between Dual System operators at the initiative of Der Grüne Punkt. Nonetheless, the quantity of packaging participating in the system, especially lightweight packaging, is still much lower than the quantity put onto the market. Working together with two competitors, Der Grüne Punkt has decided to terminate existing clearing agreements and entered into new ones that are to guarantee a seamless transition to the work of the Central Body envisaged under the new German Packaging Act. Another scheme operator had entered into such agreements by the end of August 2017.

Closing loops

When Der Grüne Punkt was founded in 1990, it was the first sus- tainable solution to recover packaging. Printing the Der Grüne Punkt (“Green Dot”) symbol has not been mandatory since the market was opened up to competition. However, it remains one of the best-known brands in Germany. A disproportionately large number of customers have been under contract with Der Grüne Punkt for more than five years and value the practical services we offer.

How the circular economy works can be summed up in four sen- tences: All post-consumer sales packaging is collected in Dual System containers – whether or not it bears the Der Grüne Punkt trademark – no matter the material. Manufacturers and the retail trade fund recy- cling by paying participation fees. The weight and type of the material determines how much they pay, which acts as an incentive for them to optimize packaging.

Since this has an environmental incentive effect, we actively shape the transformation of the market and advocate better framework conditions. Investments are also being made in new processes and application technology. The new German Packaging Act is an important step towards a sustainable future: Higher recycling targets effective 2019 bring new opportunities and challenges. For instance, operators of sorting plants for lightweight packaging have already announced plans to build new facilities and upgrade existing plants.

Recycling – A Billion Euro Market

It is clear that the market for recycled materials has considerable potential. This message is confirmed by a 2016 study from RWI Essen looking at the economic outlook of plastic recycling and the role of the Dual System.

Today, the market for recycled products made from post-consumer lightweight packaging (plastic, aluminum, and tinplate) is valued at roughly €315 million in Germany alone. Recycled materials have gained a foothold – thanks to the Dual System. Its economic benefits have increased while scheme costs have decreased because of innovation and competition.

The Dual System’s CO2 avoidance costs are impressive and especially low at €17 per metric ton of CO2 saved. By way of comparison, measures to increase the use of renewable energy – whose expansion is supported by the German Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) – were calculated to cost almost five times more at €85 per metric ton. Average avoidance costs are also markedly higher: the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA) put them at €77 for each metric ton of CO2 saved.

Premium recycled materials are the raw materials of the future. The study estimates the potential market for plastic recycling at up to €1.4 billion in 2030. For this to happen, collection, sorting, and recovery need to be optimized and coupled with higher targets. This will only be possible if the management of material streams improves. 

sustainability report 2015/2016

Market Update for 2015/2016

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