Resource efficiency by avoidance and circularity
On both the German and the European sides, discussion on the sustainable provision of sustainable availability of raw materials is in the focus of attention. Waste avoidance and recovery of resources from waste play a central role in both the European Commission's Action Plan for a Circular Economy and the German Resource Efficiency Program (ProgRess).
Plastic as a resource-efficient material
Plastics are the material of choice when it is a question of providing products and services “resource-efficiently”. Plastics save the most resources above all in the utilisation phase. This is frequently overlooked when, in a debate, the question of conserving resources is related solely to the handling of the waste.
Away from landfills
So that plastic waste can contribute more to the conservation of resources, the key step is to stop depositing them on landfills. This was highlighted several years ago in our Eco-efficiency analysis of 2007 (->Eco-efficiency analysis: European plastics waste treatment options). Landfills must be banned for plastic-rich waste. A regulated waste management system is necessary to make the plastic waste available in a form that is suitable for material recycling or energy recovery.
An additional contribution to saving of resources can be made in the future not only by mechanical recycling but also by raw material recycling if it is possible to reuse the carbon-rich portion of waste streams for the production of plastics or other chemical products. Numerous companies in the chemical industry are currently working on this.
The BKV commissions studies on such questions. Here are two examples for which results are available:
- How many plastic recyclates are available for use in packaging?
- Which raw material recycling processes have potential for plastic waste that is not suitable for mechanical recycling?