“We wanted to show what is possible with recycling and with recycled materials, and I think we succeeded,” said Gerold Breuer, head of marketing & business development, Erema. “Circularity is here.”
It was the final day of K 2019, but, although the crowds in the Circonomic Centre outside Hall 16 had largely disappeared, the machines were still running at full capacity.
According to Breuer, by the end of the K show, some 20 tonnes of 14 different materials would have been processed in total. This included PE film from household waste, from which new film for the construction industry - house wrap, for example – is made as well as the three-layer high density polyethylene bottles with foamed middle layers produced by Kautex with Braskem SA’s trademarked “I’m Green” PE combined with post-consumer recycled material. Rather than hand the bottles out to visitors at K, Kautex was recycling its bottles here at the show, said Breuer, thus ‘closing the loop’.
“We also recycled a mono-material PE pouch solution that was also produced here at K, and 30% of the material we recycled was reintroduced to make new pouches.”
With 29 collaboration partners at K 2019, among whom resin producers, plastics machinery manufacturers, recycling machinery producers, toolmakers, scientific institutions, branch organisations and more, Erema has shown the difference cooperation across the value chain makes.
“Visitors to the Circonomic Centre could see with their own eyes that there is a market for recycled material. They saw the shampoo bottle made of 100% post-consumer regrind material; and the input from Henkel, Borealis, Braskem and the others. They saw how real circular economy projects work, thanks to the will to cooperate and the use of state-of-the-art technologies in the areas of sorting, washing, recycling and processing,” said Breuer. “This makes us really proud.”
He pointed to the new declaration of the Circular Plastics Alliance, signed on September 20 by more than 100 public and private partners covering the whole plastics value chain under which the alliance undertakes to reach a target volume of 10 million tonnes of recycled plastic to be used to make new products every year in Europe, by 2025. This target was set by the European Commission in its 2018 Plastics Strategy, as part of its efforts to boost plastics recycling in Europe. “It’s an ambition,” said Breuer. “It indicates the direction and course we are on, and that we have to be on. We already have a waste problem. And the population is growing, so plastic consumption will also grow.”
He added that Generation Z – young people born from 1997 on –will be the people making the decisions in a few years’ time, and that this cohort group will want to consume, but to consume sustainably. And, he said, they will ask for recycled products that are sustainable.
“As pioneers in the circular economy and recycling, we have shown with this Circonomic Centre that the circular economy is a trigger for cooperation, and we showed the industry what is possible when we work together. The industry has to go home from the K fair and do its homework in order to make plastics really sustainable and truly circular,” he concluded.