Material, Circular Economy, Design for Recycling, Engagement, Material reduction, Recycling, Sustainability

Boosting a circular economy

17/12/2020 | 2 min read
Konrad Wasserbauer

By adopting its circular economy strategy, Greiner Packaging is working to become a sustainable, closed-loop business. These efforts focus on delivering a more livable future, including working in a variety of areas across all levels of the company.

When plastics meet sustainability

As a packaging producer, Greiner Packaging is playing an active role in advancing the transition to a circular economy. After all, as plastics processors, we have a great responsibility for delivering future-ready plastic solutions, and we are contributing to their development. The new circular economy strategy will play an important role in making these considerations a priority as well as helping us to take the right steps.

Developing solutions for a sustainable circular economy is our business model for the future. We will be making changes to our product range, supply chain, and production processes and tailoring them to fit these requirements. We want all of these efforts to go hand in hand with our vision for a circular economy based on our endorsement of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Global Commitment. This will also significantly change the way we run our business.

Manfred Stanek, CEO, Greiner Packaging

What is a circular economy?

The circular economy is a model for our society that initially aims to reduce the consumption of existing materials. The products are then reused and recycled – i.e., kept in circulation – for as long as possible. All circular economy activities are aimed at establishing effective closed loops that ultimately protect the environment. The action we take in this area is influenced by our customers, wider society, our own objectives, and the legal environment and regulatory requirements. The challenge is to find solutions that will continue to satisfy regulatory requirements going forward. These will include the EU’s 25 percent minimum recycled content level for PET bottles from 2025 and its bonus-malus scheme for the distribution of nonrecyclable packaging from 2023.

Three pillars to support a sustainable future

Greiner Packaging’s circular economy strategy rests on three pillars: product development, service development, and materials partnerships. As part of this process, a number of specific initiatives have already been launched and assigned different priority levels. In the product space, for instance, the aim is to increase the recyclability of our products. As we work toward our goals for the service pillar, we are making progress with our first partnerships and initiatives. Then, when it comes to material partnerships, our objective is to ensure reliable material streams from the recycling loop.

Developing innovative products

New and innovative products and solutions will be an essential cornerstone for transforming Greiner Packaging into a successful circular business. This means designing and producing products that are 100 percent compatible with a closed-loop, circular economy. In general, recyclability can be improved through the materials used or by finding the right combination of materials for cups, labels, films, or lids – not forgetting the type of decoration. This is how we define Design for Recycling (D4R). By engaging in these efforts, we are not only supporting the goals of the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment but also consistently pursuing our own approach to sustainability.

New service partnerships and business models

New service partnerships and business models are also playing an important role in the implementation of a circular economy. One example is our commitment to the use of digital watermarks, which could make it significantly easier to sort K3® cups in the future. We are constantly on the lookout for more opportunities and partnerships. Furthermore, we are also focusing on new business models aimed at multiple use, packaging as a service, and collection infrastructure.

Pioneering materials partnerships

Entering into partnerships with raw material manufacturers as well as participating in initiatives and cofinancing machinery will ensure that Greiner Packaging has material streams that we can process in-house. By doing so, we will be able to use recycled material to meet as much of our material requirements as possible in the future, especially in the nonfood segment.

Ultimately, the circular economy strategy represents a rethinking process for Greiner Packaging in many different areas – and, in turn, an opportunity to benefit from a sustainable future in the plastics market.

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