Circular Economy at RKW
The plastics industry is facing major challenges worldwide. RKW is continuously working with innovative ideas to give plastic products a sustainable perspective. We are making an active contribution to establishing a circular economy for this indispensable raw material and help to reduce the impact of our products while maintaining or even improving their properties. To this end, we are guided by the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle“ principle.
Sustainable Product Design
In the context of innovative, sustainable product design, our employees worldwide optimize resource consumption, reduce negative environmental impacts of a product along its life cycle, or facilitate recycling and the use of recyclates.
We are committed to using raw material as sparingly as possible at all our sites and across our entire product range. The most important lever here is downgauging – the production of ever thinner but still high-performance films. This is achieved by using innovative materials or improved raw materials and/or by optimizing formulations and production facilities. In all product groups, we develop innovative new processes together with our suppliers and customers and continuously test new or modified film types. One example of downgauging are our thin breathable RKW HyCare® and Aptra® films, which we have been supplying to our customers in the hygiene segment for years. In total, we have halved the average basis weight of our backsheet films over the last 20 years – and will continue to work on further optimization.
Design for Recycling
The prerequisite for a closed-loop Circular Economy is not only the most complete possible recycling of plastic products – it is at least equally important to enable or facilitate recycling by means of appropriate product properties. Under the keyword “Design for Recycling“, our development teams are continuously working on new or improved formulations that enable easy sorting and recycling right from the start. A good example of such a product in the agricultural sector is Polydress® Twista, a clever combination of silage and barrier underlay film on one roll. Unlike other combination films, Polydress® Twista is made entirely of polyethylene (PE) and is therefore 100% recyclable.
Use of recycled materials
Our focus is on the increased use of recyclates in our production to reuse existing resources in the best possible way. In doing so, we also provide our know-how in the area of recyclates and recycling to our customers. Together with them, we develop ways to increase the proportion of recycled raw materials. One example of the use of recyclates is our Multipack packaging films. Depending on the market availability of corresponding recyclates – they can consist of up to 100% mechanically recycled material and are still easy to further process and print.
Recycling and Reuse
We use scrap either directly within the production process, between different processes, or even across sites. Each RKW site has its own recycling facilities in which scrap is processed into high-quality regranulate. Further synergy effects are leveraged through cross-site cooperation: If the scrap generated on site cannot be used in production for technical or regulatory reasons, the regranulate is available to other sites within the RKW Group as a valuable raw material.
Further information is available in our current Sustainability Report.