Recycled Content & Design for Recycling
When we talk about sustainability and circular economy, everything revolves around recycling.
Recycling reduces the carbon footprint of finish products, prevents plastic scrap from affecting the environment and increases the efficiency of supply. For this reason, RKW does not consider waste as a lost good, but as a valuable raw material that can and should be used in the manufacture of new quality products, whereby the product design is again geared towards easy recycling.
In order to strengthen the circular economy, we therefore have two basic approaches: “Recycled Content” and “Design for Recycling”.
RKW uses recyclates to produce new high performance products and intends to increase the use of recycled and renewable materials from 7.6% in 2017 to 11% by the end of 2020.
The RKW Multipack shrink film for diverse packaging formats and sizes, consists of 50% PCR (post-consumer resin), featuring convenient and easy opening for consumers, as well as high performance and outstanding printing quality for converters – thus a good example of the fact, that sustainability and product performance are not mutually exclusive.
Even films with nearly 100% recycled content have been successfully tested at a major customer for carbonated drinks.
The recyclates are both purchased and produced in-house. For this purpose, each RKW site has its own recycling facilities that process production waste into high-quality regranulate and reuse it for new products.
Design for Recycling (D4R)
Recycling-oriented design takes subsequent waste disposal already during the manufacturing process into account and aims to support the recovery of packaging materials for further use. In addition to saving fossil resources, this contributes significantly to reducing the emission of greenhouse gases responsible for climate change. Whether a product is suitable for later recycling depends on whether the product or its material components can be reused or recycled. A good example of D4R and excellent production efficiency is RKW's "Mono PE bag". The polyethylene mono-material film solution has been certified by the cyclos-HTP institute and can be recycled after use by feeding it into the LDPE recycling stream.
A further prerequisite for effective plastic packaging recycling is a functioning waste collection-, sorting- and recycling-infrastructure. The European Union has set the political framework for such an infrastructure to be implemented throughout Europe. This is intended to support the goal of circular economy.
From Linear to Circular Economy
Today's production and consumption patterns usually follow a linear logic: extract, produce, consume. In this way, goods lose an average of 95 percent of their raw material value after just one cycle of use – climate change and environmental pollution are among the conse-quences. The need for a change of perspective, from a focus on waste and its recycling to a responsible management of resources, is imperative. Accordingly, the circular economy pursues the goal of maintaining the value of materials and products in the economy as long as possible, i.e....
- Producing plastic products with as little as possible fossil resources, and design the products for recycling (MAKE)
- Protect packed goods in the best possible way and use the products optimally (USE)
- Producing new products with regrind (RECYCLE)
In order to further strengthen the recycling economy, the IK (Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen e.V.) sets ambitious goals:
- by 2025 at least 90% of household packaging is recyclable or reusable
- at least one million metric tons of recycled material will be used to produce plastic packaging by 2025