Plastics Recycling as a Key Factor in Economic Growth and Development

According to the data published in 2012, only 41% of plastic packaging waste was collected of which 34% was sent, once collected, to recycling plants. 35% of packaging waste was sent to incineration plants while the remaining 31% was deposited in landfill sites.

The new goals to be achieved by the European Union are having recycled 45% of produced plastic packaging by 2020 and 60%, respectively, by 2025. Specifically, the minimum goals set of recycling packaging materials are the following:

• 45% of plastics
• 50% of wood
• 70% of ferrous metals
• 70% of aluminiun
• 70% of glass
• 85% of paper and cardboard

By the end of 2025 at least 70% of the total amount of packaging waste will have been recycled or reused. Thus, the minimum goals set of packaging materials recycling are the following:

• 60% of plastic
• 65% of wood
• 80% of ferrous metals
• 80% of aluminium
• 80% of glass
• 90% of paper and cardboard

The new goals of plastics utilization can be implemented through improved coordination of organizations involved in all recycling stages, from collection to final processing (e.g.: the use of twin screw extruders for the production of flakes and pellets).
The disposed plastic materials, once used in used in packaging, electric/electronic devices, automotive industry, construction as well as in agricultural industry, are classified according to the nature of the material: polyester (PET), high density polyethylene (HDPE), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS), polyvinylchloride (PVC) etc.

The five pillars of the recycling development plan are the following:

1. Collection, cleaning and transfer of plastic waste to primary processing plant
2. Primary processing and separation of different materials
3. Transfer of separated plastic materials to recycling centers
4. Processing and recycling of plastic materials
5. Landfill or incineration and energy recovery from non-manageable plastic materials

The estimated total cost of both upgrading facilities currently in use and constructing required facilities in order to achieve the goals set by the 28 members of the European Union amounts to 1 billion € by 2020 and to 1,45 billion€ by 2025.

The benefits related to of such an investment include both 50,000 new job vacancies in the sector of plastic waste disposal and management and 75,000 new job vacancies in collaborating companies. The growth forecast, according to the model for 2025, reports 80,000 and 12,000 job vacancies respectively while for Greece it reports 919 job vacancies by 2020 and 1462 job vacancies by 2025.

The direct benefit gained is the reduction of CO2 emissions by 8 million tons by 2020 and by 13 million tons by 2025. The forecast for Greece reports reduction of CO2 emissions by 0,15 and 0,24 million tons by 2020 and 2025 respectively.

Packaging materials retain their high added valued even after their last use.
Their disposal in the environment has never been more cost-efficient and the latest available technological advances have offered us the opportunity to make the most of their use as well as to reap future economic benefits improving our working and living environment.

The well-documented research carried out by Deloitte is available to all AGMPM members.

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