New Opportunity for Packaging: Design for Recycling

16 Jul 2019

Whoever considers products starting from their end will achieve optimally packaging solutions. The task: Ideal product protection. The requirement: Exterior permitting effective advertising. The aim: Optimal recycling. Everything is possible …

If you know your destination, you can prepare for the journey. The same applies for product packaging: If you focus on practical reuse of materials, costly detours can be avoided. Since the packaging law came into effect at the beginning of January 2019, the industry has been making efforts to optimally achieve the requirements at the lowest possible cost. Design and technology are now linked to coexist at an earlier stage – the results are pleasing.

Holistic planning of packaging solutions from the very start allows them to ideally fulfil the requirements of the circular economy and recyclability. This law intends significantly more private household waste to be recycled. Simultaneously, manufacturers have to increasingly turn to more ecological and recyclable packaging for their products.


Collect and Reuse

The dual systems financed by the industry and retail must meet significantly higher recycling quotas from 2019. This applies for all packaging licensed in dual systems. The current recycling quota of 36 percent for plastic packaging will rise to 63 percent by 2022. Simultaneously, the quotas for metals (currently 60 percent), paper (currently 70 percent) und glass (currently 75 percent) will increase to around 90 percent by 2022.

The license fees of the dual systems to be paid for packaging disposal must therefore be strongly ecologically oriented. Packaging that is only partly recyclable - or not at all - faces higher license fees, providing a clear incentive to manufacturers to produce more recyclable packaging. The required fees teach the industry to look to the future. Sustainability is rewarded – the pressure is being noticeably increased on those who react to slowly to the issue of environmentally friendly packaging solutions.

The retail sector is increasingly educating its customers to reconsider and think to the future. For example, the Lidl discount supermarket chain intends to achieve complete recyclability of all its own brand product packaging by 2025. 


Creating new values

Aside from the public pressure on packaging manufacturers, the industry's accountability is also a driving force. The opportunity: Packaging can become part of the solution – rather than presenting a problem.

The legal requirements highlight the previously undervalued meaning of packaging: it can – if intelligently conceived– be functional, economical and ecological at the same time! Products are not only optimally protected, advertised and marketed – their packaging is also integrated the circular economy.

Economic incentives promote ecological action. If customers learn of the material value of product packaging, plastic packaging solutions may enjoy an improved image and re-evaluation. The faster the value of packaging materials enters public consciousness, the more effectively the concerned raw materials can be effectively reused. The new value of plastic as a raw material is significantly higher than its existing reputation implies. This opportunity must be seized.


(Author: Reinhold Plot, Head of Communications, Kiefel GmbH)

Circular economy in the packaging industry.

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