The German Green Point (der Grüne Punkt), the cleaning company Werner & Mertz, as well as the German recycling, water and raw materials industry association BDE, jointly call for financial incentives and a political commitment to plastic processing. In a joint declaration, they formulated several calls for politicians. They require closer attention to environmental sustainability in public procurement, a fund system and, in addition, a plastic tax on new products, as well as clearly defined minimum rates for the use of recycled material in combination with financial incentives.
In recent months, plastic waste in private households has grown by about 10% due to widespread remote work and more frequent online orders, while the demand for recycled material, i.e. recycled plastic from packaging waste, has plummeted. The three partners are convinced that what seems paradoxical at first glance has one main reason.
Oil prices plummeted as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Cheap crude oil makes the production of new plastic even cheaper and thus strengthens the existing legal privilege of new plastic in Germany due to exemption from taxes on the extraction and import of oil and petroleum products, as well as payments for renewable energy.
In this comparison, recycling materials from used plastic packaging becomes even less attractive from an economic point of view. Many manufacturers who previously used recycled material for products and packaging are now switching to new products. This means not only huge losses for the recycling industry, but, first of all, a huge step backwards to protect the climate and the environment and a serious blow to the closed-loop economy.
The solution to the problem of plastic waste clogging our environment has existed for a long time: used plastic from end users collected in yellow bags can now be processed to such a high quality that it even meets the strict requirements for cosmetic packaging. Thus, plastic remains in the production cycle and becomes a valuable raw material instead of environmentally harmful waste. But the technology of recycling materials is still in the shadows, because the use of new plastic is relatively cheaper.
That is why three representatives of the value chain in their joint declaration urge politicians to use the upcoming economic transformations to create a closed economy as a whole and a system for using recycled plastic materials, in particular in Germany. According to partners, inaction of politicians harms the recycling of plastics. The declaration calls for stimulating the use of recycled plastics, as well as setting various targets for the use of recycled plastics for different groups of products.