Sustainability goals are still high on the agenda / Recycled material remains in demand despite coronavirus crisis / IK flash survey
In a flash survey among member companies, the German association for plastic packaging and films, Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen (IK, Bad Homburg; determined the current demand for recycled plastics. After all, it is not only the coronavirus-related decline in production that is currently causing problems for recyclers – the sharp drop in plastics prices during the crisis is also having a negative impact (see of 20.05.2020). However, the survey has now revealed that even in the coronavirus crisis, plastic packaging manufacturers and their customers are largely remaining committed to sustainability targets.

Isabell Schmidt, managing director of the circular economy department at IK (Photo: PIE)
Almost two thirds of the plastic packaging manufacturers surveyed stated that consumption of recycled materials was virtually unchanged. For the remaining companies, the decline in demand is generally between 10% and 50%. Of these companies, more than 70% claim to be affected by declining sales themselves. Only 28% of the companies that are using less recycled material said that the lower price of virgin material was the decisive factor.

“Our industry is also affected by the current crisis, and the producers of industrial packaging in particular are being hit by the coronavirus-related decline in sales,” says Isabell Schmidt, managing director of the circular economy department at IK. “We are therefore all the more pleased that most customers, especially in the consumer goods sector, are sticking to their targets for the use of recycled materials even in times of crisis.” She added that this shows that circular economy is firmly embedded in the strategy of these companies.

Nevertheless, the association views the current weakness of the recycling market with concern, as investments in circular economy are urgently needed in the coming years. “It is therefore important that demand for products containing recycled materials is strengthened, especially through public procurement and price incentives for their use,” said Schmidt. This does not only concern the packaging market, which is an important buyer of post-consumer recycled material in Germany, with about 160,000 t or 20% of the sales market. Other large segments, in particular the construction and agricultural sectors, also demonstrate a stable demand for recycled material.

Together, the plastic packaging manufacturers organised in IK have set the joint goal of using 1m t/y of recycled materials (post-consumer and post-industrial) in plastic products by 2025. This means that the amount of PCR in particular must be almost quadrupled by then – there is additional demand for more than 500,000 t of defined qualities. The industry is sticking to this goal even in a difficult environment, especially in the context of the European Union’s planned “plastics tax” on non-recycled plastic packaging.

According to a flash survey about the Covid-19 impacts on the European plastics industry conducted in May 2020, the pandemic is positively affecting the public image of plastics – single-use plastic masks and food packaging, among others, are now seen as valuable tools for combatting the spread of the virus (see of 29.05.2020).

13.08.2020 [245701-0]
Published on 13.08.2020
IK-Blitzumfrage: Recyclingmaterial bleibt trotz Corona gefragtGerman version of this article...

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