RKW’s Three Dimensions of Sustainability
As a leading film manufacturer, RKW assumes responsibility for a habitable environment. Sustainability is therefore a key component of our corporate policy and business mission.
We live sustainability based on a three-fold approach: ecology, economy and society. These aspects govern our proactive behavior—driven by the commitment of a responsible and successful company. We are convinced that environmental protection, high economic performance and social accountability are inseparably connected.
Reduction of Film Thickness (Downgauging)
One key approach to reducing the environmental impact of our products while maintaining or even improving their properties is the reduction of the film thickness. This process is called downgauging.
RKW is applying successfully the downgauging technology over years, with significant reductions of film thicknesses.
Thinner films result in less energy consumption, transportation weight, packaging material and impact during the subsequent production steps. This in turn contributes to an overall reduction of CO2 consumption and the protection of natural resources.
RKW has extensive experience with established and new bioplastics and believes that renewable raw materials will gain significance in the future.
Bio-based polymers do not have an ecological advantage per se; this needs to be individually evaluated for every application. In particular, the degradability must represent an additional application benefit.
As an example, in July 2018 RKW launched its biodegradable star-sealed bags for organic household waste, which make the disposal of organic waste much more convenient by preventing liquids from leaking.
Carbon Footprint Reduction
As stated in our business mission, RKW is committed to developing sustainable actions that make wise use of our planet’s valuable resources. Our goal is to reduce the carbon footprint of our products and production processes. Evaluating our use of energy will help us to reduce CO2 emissions within our area of responsibility, as both are closely connected.
We are doing this by developing more sustainable products with lower environmental impact, as well as by investing in group-wide CO2 reduction projects and several programs aimed at reducing CO2 emissions at our Sites.
These CO2 equivalents of more than 190,000 metric tons per annum correspond to the emissions for which we are responsible. Upstream or downstream emissions resulting from the use of raw materials or from thermal recycling are not included.
Our products help to conserve resources in several ways. Agricultural silage films, for example, increase the forage yield and perfectly preserve the stored silage. Thanks to our films, packaged food has a longer shelf life, thus contributing to the reduction of food waste.
Conserving resources is also one of the key factors when it comes to sustainability in production. Be it regeneration of production waste, re-granulation or recycling, RKW continuously optimizes its production processes to reduce the consumption of natural resources.
At RKW, recycling is one of the key actions we take in our aim to improve sustainability. It reduces the carbon footprint of raw materials, prevents plastic scrap from affecting the environment, increases supply efficiency and reduces material costs.
- We reuse production scrap either directly within the production process or between different processes.
- Each RKW Site has its own recycling facilities where scrap can be processed into high-quality re-granulate.
- Required solvents are burnt in regenerative incineration facilities so that the energy generated can be used for heating.
- RKW designs products that allow easy sorting and recycling from the start.
- RKW continuously invests in new recycling technologies. In the past years, several new recycling lines were put into operation.
- RKW is member of the German initiative “ERDE” that organizes the collection, sorting, cleaning, recycling and reuse of huge amounts of used agricultural films.
Associations and Activities
RKW is a member of many associations and organizations concerned with sustainability, such as IK Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen e.V. (sustainability working group), EDANA Sustainability Forum, BKV – Plastics, Recycling Concepts, ERDE Recycling and the CEFLEX organization.
The company is also active in many areas of sustainability, for example, through its efforts to reduce film thickness, through developing environmentally friendly solutions, and in the Zero-Pellet Initiative, where companies commit to minimizing the loss of pellets or plastic granulates throughout the process chain.