Taking action through industry cooperation.

04/08/2021 | 4 min read
Theresa Wieser

Many subjects were covered during Greiner Packaging’s virtual Innovation Days, but three sessions in particular focused on actions that needed to be taken to deliver a circular economy and on the value of industry cooperation and information exchange. Here we look at sessions featuring the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, Plastic Bank, and #ForumRezyklat.

How innovation works for all – the Alliance to End Plastic Waste

The second Innovation Day opened with keynote speaker Jacob Duer, President and CEO of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, a global non-profit organization that Greiner AG joined in 2020.

“I believe that it's absolutely critical if we need to move forward in addressing the issue of plastic waste in the environment that we put innovation at the top of our agenda,” said Jacob Duer. “Innovation is one of our four strategic pillars. The others are: infrastructure, such as investment in integrated waste management systems; education and engagement; and then of course clean up. I would say that our focus on innovation as a strategic approach, is probably one of the toughest pillars to focus on, but maybe also one of the most important ones.”

We were established in 2019 by a group of global companies covering the full plastic value chain. Our vision is described in our name, and as an organization, we want to contribute towards ending plastic waste in the environment, but equally to contribute towards a circular economy.

Jacob Duer, President and CEO of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste

“Addressing plastic waste is a very complex challenge. It is estimated that 11 million metric tons of plastic waste enters the oceans every year, and if we do not invest now – and collectively – in addressing this challenge, it is estimated that 30 million metric tons of plastic will enter our oceans on an annual basis by 2040. One of the reasons is that plastic usage is rising, in many cases linked to the fact that the global middle class is growing, but also because three billion people on the planet do not have access to proper waste management infrastructures. It is estimated at a global level that only 15% of plastic is recycled, while 70% is being collected. While these numbers may be vast and in many ways also difficult to grasp, I think we should not lose hope. Instead we need to focus on bringing solutions to the table and a major incentive is really the economic opportunity that is inherent in plastic waste.”

“The value of plastic waste is estimated at $120bn annually. Unfortunately, we lose a lot of value that otherwise could have been brought back into the economy, and that's why the Alliance is working towards closing this gap. We are doing so through a number of activities and initiatives, of which the most important one is to look at innovation. Our focus for the future must be on capture and preventing leakage of plastic waste so that it becomes a resource.”


Watch the full live session of Jacob Duer here!

Please note: In order to watch the live session you need to login (and register) first; registration is still possible, even though the event is over.

Plastic Bank: empowering the world to stop ocean plastic

The first of Greiner Packaging’s Innovation Days closed with David Katz, the founder and CEO of Plastic Bank, joining the event from Vancouver to explain the work of Plastic Bank and how Social Plastic® transfers its value to the people that engage with it to help build a regenerative society.

Plastic Bank sets up ethical recycling eco-systems in countries that lack sufficient disposal infrastructure and have high rates of pollution and poverty. The company is helping the world stop ocean plastic while improving the lives of collector communities. Collectors in Plastic Bank’s ecosystems pick up plastic waste and bring it to collection points, where it is sorted and subsequently processed into granulate. The collected material is reborn as Social Plastic®. This material is then sold to manufacturing companies, which employ recyclate for their products or packaging.

Greiner Packaging has supported Plastic Bank with the start-up of five collection centers in Manila, and is expanding its partnership. It has announced that it will finance another 165,000 kg of plastic waste collection, to further support local collectors while keeping the beaches clean and securing new material streams.

“I really believe that the ocean’s greatest threat may be humanity’s richest opportunity,” said David Katz. “It’s not the plastic that is the problem – it ‘s us. We have to value it all. If every piece of packaging had a value, we wouldn’t see it flowing into the ocean.”

“Our existence in communities reveals the inherent value in plastic waste. We have a few hundred schools in our eco-system, and we teach the children to go home and teach their parents about environmental stewardship, recycling and economic opportunity. Then instead of throwing their garbage away they start collecting it and return it to the school as tuition payment, to make it easier for more children to go to school. The child learns that by recycling, poverty in the family has an opportunity to end.”

When we collect the material it goes to a local processor. The processor then exports it as raw materials, bought by companies such as Greiner Packaging and goes back into packaging, therefore closing the loop.

David Katz, the founder and CEO of Plastic Bank

“When you buy a product in packaging made from Social Plastic®, you’re helping end poverty and helping create a demand for communities to extract the raw material from the environment. Buy something made from Social Plastic® and you change the planet. You can be part of the solution not the pollution.”


Watch the full live session of David Katz here!

Please note: In order to watch the live session you need to login (and register) first; registration is still possible, even though the event is over.

Coopetition and the #ForumReyzklat initiative

When competitors become partners, this is known as ‘coopetition’, and in this session of the Innovation Days, Dagmar Glatz, Director of Sustainable Packaging at dm-drogerie-markt, discussed the importance of partnerships in bringing about a circular economy.

The #ForumReyzklat initiative is an example of coopetition in action – based on the demand for closing the plastic packaging loop, and encouraging the use of recyclable packages with recycled plastic content.

“Coopetition is the way we want to act for better circular economy,” said Dagmar Glatz. “As a retailer, we want to recycle together, to create value together.”

“In 2018, we were all confronted with pictures of plastic packages swimming in the ocean. Those pictures moved us to ask our partners a very simple question: ‘why not put more recycled plastic in the plastic packages?’ We already knew that it could work, because packages made out of plastic with recycled material were already in our market. But when we asked our partners to increase packages made out of recycled plastics, we received answers such as: ‘food grade plastic is used for drug-store products; no other plastic (norm) currently exists; and ‘only small quantities of high quality food grade recycled plastic exists’”.

“So, we started this initiative, and #ForumReyzklat was formed. In 2018, there was little or no cross-industry collaboration in the area of recycling, and the use of recycled materials in Germany. We tried to find stakeholders from all processes as well strategic partners from the circular economy and members from the retail sector. And this is where the concept of coopetition comes in, as within our audience we also had competitors.

“Now #ForumReyzklat features product and packaging manufacturers, retailers, waste management companies and recycling companies, as well as representatives from science and politics.”

We wanted to encourage the use of recycled plastic, so that we could offer our customers more products and packages with recycled material content. We also wanted to increase the level of knowledge about design for recycling, to have more design for recycling and to promote awareness of the circular economy with all stakeholders.

Dagmar Glatz, Director of Sustainable Packaging at dm-drogerie-markt

“After more than three years of cooperation, the circular economy was still not running efficiently, so we restarted the forum as #ForumReyzklat 2.0, said Dagmar Glatz. “Expert groups have been formed and we have realigned our cooperative partnership to become more technically efficient. The first expert group is working on standards and the second group is working on innovative technology and recyclability. The third is developing communication tools to enable all of the #ForumReyzklat to use a common language when talking about the circular economy.”


Watch the full live session of Dagmar Glatz here!

Please note: In order to watch the live session you need to login (and register) first; registration is still possible, even though the event is over.

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