Recyclability of packaging
The course for subsequent recycling after use is set by the design of packaging. Recycling-friendly design of packaging requires exchange between the players in packaging development, production and from the recycling industry.
A strong and specific motivation for assessing the recyclability of packaging is now created by § 21 of the German Packaging Act, which provides for licensing charges for sales packaging depending on its recyclability. Here the so-called "dual systems" (waste collection and recovery systems) in Germany are obliged to set incentives, with which recyclable packaging is to be rewarded in the future.
Against this background, together with INTERSEROH Dienstleistungs GmbH, bifa has worked up a method for assessing the recyclability of packaging. The standardised method was then checked by the Fraunhofer IVV and is part of the Interseroh "Made for Recycling" service.
The innovative system is targeted at increasing the quantity of sales packaging submitted for high-quality recycling in the future and adding the raw materials they contain to the cycle. Packaging whose materials can be recovered after collection and sorting is called recyclable. On the other hand, packaging that can only be recovered for energy use (incineration) is called non-recyclable. Within the assessment, gradual differences in material recoverability are taken into consideration with regard to the scope and quality of the re-use of the recovered products. Solely providing a packaging for a material recovery process as an indicator of its reusability, similar to the calculation of recovery rates, would not be sufficient.
The methodology developed by bifa allows differentiated assessment of the central aspects that determine the recyclability of a packaging:
- Can the consumer easily assign the packaging to the correct collection system?
- Can the packaging be specifically sorted out of the collected mixture, e.g. the yellow (plastics/metal waste) bin?
- How suitable is the packaging for material recovery with regard to quality and quantity?
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