The IK Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen has published its fifth sustainability report. For the first time, it links the industry's achievements and goals to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At the same time, the report serves as a status report for an industry that has set itself ambitious goals for the circular economy by 2025: One million tons of recyclate use and 90 percent recyclable or reusable household packaging.
Share of recyclable and reusable household packaging rises to 81 percent; demand for recyclates increases
A study by the Society for Packaging Market Research (GVM) shows that the share of recyclable or reusable plastic household packaging has increased from 75 percent (2016) to 81 percent (2020). "Many innovations are in development, so a further increase can be expected in the next few years," Isabell Schmidt, IK managing director of circular economy, is confident. "This means the industry is right on target for the 90 percent recyclability target."
According to the report, the use of recycled material in plastic packaging is also making progress with 474,000 tons (2019) (2017: just under 400,000 tons), confirming that the race to catch up has begun: Between 2017 and 2019, demand for recyclates increased by more than 18 percent, while at the same time consumption of virgin plastics declined. Here, too, the industry expects the trend to continue.
The IK's "Earth" initiative is also on track, with 26,500 metric tons of agricultural silage and stretch film sent for mechanical recycling, a huge step forward (2014: just under 2,180 metric tons) toward the 34,000-ton target for 2022.
However, the report also points out the many challenges. For example, sourcing high-quality recyclates, especially for food packaging, is still a major hurdle for the industry. "In cooperation with the recycling industry and other players from business, politics, public authorities and civil society, we are committed to overcoming the existing hurdles in a variety of ways," says Isabell Schmidt.
Diverse contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals
Whether consumer, product, or climate protection, protection of the oceans from plastic discharges, or transformation into a functioning circular economy: with their products and development goals, plastic packaging manufacturers contribute in many ways to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and support the political development goals at European and German level. With the IK Sustainability Report, which provides plenty of data and facts about the industry, the association also invites plastics critics to a differentiated and factual discussion of the often emotionally assessed "plastic packaging". Critical aspects such as waste in the environment are not faded out thereby. Isabell Schmidt emphasizes "After all, transparency, credibility and dialogue in a spirit of partnership are also part of the demands made on our interest group as defined in the report".