Transform used plastic into raw material
Under which prerequisites can used plastic packaging be transformed into new raw material in the recycling cycle? This was the topic of a workshop conducted at Bischof + Klein with Prof. Gilian Gerke, professor of resource management at Magdeburg-Stendal University.
She discussed current trends in packaging development, modern sorting technologies, recycling requirements and recycling management opportunities with development engineers and employees from B+K's sales, production, environmental protection and regulatory affairs departments.
99.5% of plastic packaging are utilised in Germany; 50.6% of the materials are recycled (GVM recycling balance 2014). According to Gerke, Germany is the leader in this. She viewed the significant increase in this rate, as demanded in the working draft of the new German recyclable material act, critically. However, there is a great deal of potential for improvement, particularly as regards the quality of recycled material. Today, highly sensitive sorting facilities are able to very efficiently identify different materials. However, the current trend towards black packaging, for example, is posing problems. This cannot be detected by near-infrared sensors. Intensive research is underway. The recycling expert is also not particularly enthralled by the addition of chalk in packaging film. This also leads to problems in the recycling process.
The scientist clearly stated how important the exchange of information between the various agents in the value added chain is. "I was delighted to receive your invitation. We can only achieve progress in the material cycle together." Sustainability manager Angelika Kotscha agreed wholeheartedly. She wants more impetus for the recycling cycle. Handling plastic material differently contributes to the sparing use of resources and also helps to combat the global problem of "marine litter". If empty plastic packaging were essentially regarded as recyclable material, nobody would ever be so thoughtless as to throw it away again.