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Fraunhofer: incentives needed to boost use of recyclates

The use of recycled raw materials makes a direct contribution to tackling climate change, concludes the Fraunhofer Institute in a new study commissioned by the recycling major ALBA Group.

According to the study, ALBA saved more than 4.2 million tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2019 through the closed-loop circulation of 6 million tonnes of recyclables. ‘Recycling leads to far fewer greenhouse gas emissions than when primary raw materials are used,’ explains Axel Schweitzer, ceo of the group. ‘The use of our quality-tested recycled plastics, for example, reduces emissions of greenhouse gases by more than 50% in comparison with the production of plastics from crude oil. There is no better argument for the increased use of recyclates.’

High potential

Ing Markus Hiebel, director of the sustainability and participation department at the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT, says its life-cycle analysis down to the kilogram clearly demonstrates the potential for recycling to help tackle climate change. ‘The better the individual stakeholders in the value chain of products and packaging collaborate, the greater the potential for possible savings.’

Increase demand

The scientist sees an increasing willingness on the part of all those involved to take responsibility and to work together more closely with many manufacturers committing to using recycled raw materials in their products. ‘All in all, further incentives should be created to increase the use of recyclates. If the share of recyclates becomes a purchasing criterion in the procurement, this will significantly increase demand,’ Hiebel argues.

70 million tonnes of CO2 saved

Fraunhofer UMSICHT has been researching the effect of ALA Group’s recycling activities on the climate and natural resources for 13 years and the results are published annually in a ‘resources saved by recycling’ report. The material flows for plastics, metals, waste electrical and electronic equipment, wood, paper/board/cardboard and glass were included in the 2019 study. ALBA Group divisions have saved a total of about 70 million tonnes of CO2 equivalents worldwide since the beginning of the Fraunhofer investigations in 2007. This is about 9% of Germany’s total greenhouse gas emissions of 805 million tonnes in 2019.

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