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circulair world

A circular world with plastic

24 July 2020

A life without plastic has become virtually unthinkable. Since 1950, the world has produced 8.3 billion tons of plastic. Although the growing use of plastic was foreseen, the severity of the environmental issues it causes was not. Today, the global problem of plastic waste gets worse every day. Researchers predict that there will be more plastic in our rivers and oceans than fish by the year 2050.

Still, plastic is not just a source of problems. Its use offers us myriad benefits. It is used as a sustainable and lightweight construction, for protection and as a packaging material to preserve food. Putting a halt to the use of plastic altogether is, therefore, an unrealistic expectation. Nevertheless, businesses in the plastics industry can contribute to a cleaner environment by working together and sharing knowledge. Rompa Group is more than willing to accept this responsibility.

Reducing the use of single-use plastics

The biggest issue is caused by plastic packaging materials that are dumped in the street as litter without a second thought. Resolving that issue is a responsibility we all share, from consumers to businesses and governments. The plastic litter mainly consists of single-use plastic packaging materials. Of all the plastic we consume in our daily lives, 50% is thrown out within twenty minutes. Three percent of that ultimately ends up in our waters. By reducing the use of single-use plastics with various laws and regulations, significantly less plastic waste will end up in water.a

recycling sustainable

There is no waste in a circular economy

According to the European recycling target, 55% of all plastic must be truly circular by the year 2030. The basic principle of a circular economy revolves around the reusability of products and raw materials and the preservation of natural resources. In order to use products in an optimally sustainable manner and recover precious resources from discarded products, it is essential that these products are designed in a circular manner. This is known as Design-for-Recycling or DFR. It means that, in addition to the environmental impact during all phases of a product’s life cycle, a product designer also takes recycling, reuse and maintenance into account.

Benefits of a circular economy:
• Results in a more attractive, cleaner and healthier environment
• Offers a solution for the growing scarcity of natural resources
• Contributes to climate protection and climate change
• Creates opportunities for innovation, a knowledge economy and employment

Recycling plastic

The recycling of plastic therefore does not begin with the collection of plastic waste, but rather with the design of plastic products. You can read more about this in chapter 2 of this whitepaper. What is recycling, exactly? Recycling is about recovering raw materials from waste so they can be reused.

Unfortunately, recycling plastic is not always as easy as it sounds. At the moment, only 9% of the world’s plastic waste is being recycled. The improvements that have to be made to the process of collecting, sorting and cleaning plastic and plastic products pose an enormous challenge. This is mainly due to the large number of different types of plastic that are being used. We are on the right path, however: myriad technological developments in the field of plastic recycling are taking place all over the world.

Afbeelding: recycling sustainable

The recycling process

The recycling of plastic starts with the user. People at home can separate plastic from their other waste. Subsequent separation is virtually impossible for plastic. It is important that the raw materials are properly separated to ensure these resources can be used effectively in the production processes of new products. After being collected, the plastic waste is transported to the waste processor’s collection point. The quality of the waste is monitored there. Next, the different types of plastic are sent to a sorting installation. It sorts the plastic and removes any contaminants and other materials, such as metal and paper. After being sorted, the different types of plastic are shredded, washed and then melted down into raw material for the production of new plastic products.

Recycled plastic

Post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic is made from post-consumer waste; usually plastic packaging materials. The end result of the recycling process is new granulate, which can be used to make a wide range of products, including jars, containers and packaging materials. The composition of PCR plastic differs per product, but in most cases, it consists of at least 95% post-consumer waste. Post-consumer waste is the largest waste stream in the world. That explains why people are constantly looking for ways to reduce the magnitude of this waste stream and process the waste into new products.

Do you want to know more about recycling?

Click here to continue to the next news item: Why is plastic so hard to recycle?


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