Paying Attention to Resources Everywhere
Things are getting serious as we approach the new year. That is when the new packaging law comes into force. Among other things, it will govern the closed-loop recycling of beverage packaging. Thanks to the deposit system, non-return PET bottles are now recycled at a rate of 97 percent here in Germany. But even here, two thirds of the recovered material still ends up in film or textiles. Retail drink bottles currently contain almost three quarters virgin material on average. Members of the German RAL Quality Association have undertaken to halve this amount by 2022 – at least for all bottles that the association permits to bear its quality mark – i. e. all those containing at least 25 percent recyclate.
Higher amounts of rPET, even 100 percent in the case of bottles for still water, are already approved by the European Food Safety Authority EFSA. A high proportion of recyclate can improve the life cycle assessment of the products, though it doesn’t reduce costs - on the contrary. Retailers and consumers therefore play a key role in the question of how quickly the amount of bottle-to-bottle recycling can be increased. Though the 100 percent mark is a worthy target for individual products whose environmental advantage can be marketed, that does not necessarily apply for the entire volume stream, since the material cannot be recycled indefinitely without a loss of quality.
However, costs and image are not the only things that count: the fact that the consequences of global warming, however remote, can have a direct impact on production, and therefore on business, is shown by the production shutdown at BASF at the end of November as a result of the low water level in the Rhine. Hence, we must continue to conserve resources – whether in the material or carbon footprint. This is a good resolution for the New Year, and the Kunststoffe team and Carl Hanser Verlag wish you every happiness after relaxing holidays!
Dr. Karlhorst Klotz
karlhorst.klotz <AT> hanser.de
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