Plastic packaging recycling calls for more attention

A new report from the Davos World Economic Forum gathering is calling for strategies to dramatically increase recycling of plastic packaging—from 14 % today to 70 %.

The report from the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, argues for a major rethink of plastic packaging and bills itself as a “transition strategy for better package design and increased recycling rates.”


The American Chemistry Council, in a statement, said it welcomed that the report recognized benefits of plastics, but ACC argued that issues like resource efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions should be taken more into account when setting policy.

It doesn’t make specific recommendations on how to boost recycling, but raises many topics, including replacing single-use plastic bags with reusable bags, looking at container deposits and using larger returnable rigid packaging in shipping.

“Without fundamental redesign and innovation, the remaining 30 % of plastic packaging (by weight) will never be recycled and the equivalent of 10 billion garbage bags per year will be destined to landfill or incineration,” the report said.


The report also singled out what it called three “uncommon materials” in plastic packaging—expanded polystyrene(EPS), polystyrene and PVC—and said that while they are often technically recyclable they may not be economically recyclable because of their small volumes.
“PVC, PS, and EPS stand out as uncommon plastic packaging materials to focus on first,” the report said. “Dealing with these three would make a huge impact on this segment. Their low volumes lead to poor outcomes: less than 5 percent of PVC packaging is recycled in Europe, and PS and EPS are rarely sorted from household waste and recycled.”

The report argued that while plastics packaging is an “integral part of the global economy and provides it with many benefits,” concerns are growing over both litter, including in oceans and waterways, and the greenhouse gas emissions from increased use of plastics.

“For these reasons, plastics and plastic packaging have gradually morphed from a fringe to a mainstream issue,” the report said.

The New Plastics Economy report calls attention to the vast amount of plastic packaging material that is lost to the economy after only a single use. But we also see a tremendous opportunity to continually develop packaging that is better for the environment throughout its life: production, use and reuse.

When it comes to reuse, equipment for plastic packaging recycling may play an essential role in protecting environment. For reusing the “uncommon materials” such as EPS, GreenMax EPS recycling machine has already made contribution to the protection the environment.