For the cosmetics packaging sector, PCR safety standards are already being developed that are intended to help close post-consumer plastic waste cycles. To this end, branded companies in the industry, together with recycling companies, plastics manufacturers and processing companies, founded the consortium CosPaTox (Cosmetics, Packaging & Toxicology) last summer. The plan is for the entire industry to benefit from the consortium’s work, including companies that have so far avoided using non-food PCR due to the lack of toxicological assessments and standardisation.
A key issue for the sufficient long-term availability of recyclates is separate collection. ‘Recycling works best when plastic waste is collected separately, which the collection of PET beverage bottles with refundable deposits has clearly shown us’, says IK managing director Dr Isabell Schmidt. ‘Here, recyclates are produced that even comply with the strict statutory requirements for contact with foods. In order to meet the need for raw materials of industries processing plastics in future, politicians must work to ensure that separate collection is significantly improved all over Europe and that landfills with plastic waste are completely banned.’
Meanwhile, retailers and manufacturers are increasingly securing supplies by setting up their own systems for taking back recyclable packaging. Industry pioneer Werner & Mertz has been relying on his own network for years with his recyclate initiative and, together with his partners, recovers PET recyclate from post-consumer material from European beverage bottle collections and – a major exception in the market – also recovers an ever-increasing proportion of recycled material from the German ‘yellow bag’ for plastic waste.
Industry experts assume that the demand for high-quality secondary raw materials will remain high, even if more new material becomes available again. The UK is also focusing on economic incentives with the planned tax on plastic packaging with less than 30% of recycled content starting in April 2022. Italy and Spain are also expected to follow suit with comparable taxes.