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Waste collection ‘on demand’ and other recycling trends

Germany – ‘Digitalisation has become quite the buzzword. Times are changing, new opportunities and technologies arise. So, we ask ourselves, what is vision and what is reality?’ observed Jörg Hempel at the annual bvse recovered paper conference in Düsseldorf.

‘We are moving more and more towards waste management on demand,’ said Hempel, managing director of materials analytics solutions company PTS.

‘The smart bins that are connected to industry specific software to optimise waste collection are already in use – and they are quickly gaining popularity.’

Hempel forecast an increase in QR codes and special icons for products so they may be properly identified and subsequently recycled at end of life stage. Hempel also estimated a multimillion dollar investment by 2020 in start-ups offering online platforms to organise waste collection in Europe.

In an industry so focussed on capacity, Hempel stressed that doing something smart was better than simply doing more. ´Smurfit Kappa has already embraced the industry 4.0 connected system at their plants. So they know where the waste is and what all machines are doing at any given point in time,´ he told delegates.

He believes most big companies with a capacity of over 100 000 tonnes will be interesting in maximising their business this way. ´By 2020, let’s say that 50% of big companies will have implemented it across their sites.

For smaller companies it would be hugely expensive to jump right in, maybe they will start with 1 pilot plant and build up,´ Hempel said.

In Europe, supply and demand for recovered paper are ´spread unevenly´, added Henri Vermeulen of Smurfit Kappa. ´For example, Germany has a deficit of 1.5 million tonnes, while the UK has a surplus of 4.6 million tonnes,´ he pointed out.

The majority of the new expected containerboard capacities will come online in this deficit area, Vermeulen insisted. It was likely that export pressure will continue across Asia, although this pressure will mostly shift from China to Vietnam, India as well as Indonesia.

Meanwhile, an upwards OCC price pressure is expected in Europe towards 2020. By that year, the Western European surplus will shrink notably, it will be roughly half of what it was last year.

A full review of the bvse paper conference will be published in the upcoming issue of Recycling International, #3.

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