Next to recyclability, a major issue in the discussion on sustainable plastic packaging is whether, and if so, how much recycled material can be used in packaging applications.
Now, IK, the German association for plastics packaging and films has the results of a study it commissioned to find that out. Conducted by GVM, a market research institute in Germany specialised in packaging, the study concluded that use of recycled plastic in packaging could be increased from 475 to around 960 thousand tons per year, which corresponds to around 22 percent of the production volume.
Previously, Germany’s association for the plastics processing industry GKV had already committed to using 1 million tons of recycled plastic material by 2025.
The race to meet this target has already begun: between 2017 and 2019, demand for recyclates rose by over 18 percent, while at the same time the consumption of new plastic goods declined, according to IK.
”This decoupling shows the enormous interest of the packaging industry in the use of recyclates," said IK managing director Dr. Isabell Schmidt.
That is not to say that recyclate should be used at any price. Currently, food packaging accounts for 44 percent of the packaging in the market; a sector that at the same time has stringent requirements in place regarding the raw materials that are permitted to be used. Right now, the volume of recycled material available on the market that is suitable for food-contact applications is limited.