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How can we accelerate ‘circular’ plastics?

Around 26% of top 100 brands say they want to reduce plastics production, according to Daniel Nordigarden of McKinsey & Company.

If plastics demand follows its current trajectory, the global volume of plastic scrap could grow ‘tremendously’, Recycling International heard at the recent Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference in Barcelona. ‘Figures are predicted to go up from 260 million tons per year in 2016 to 460 million tons per year by 2030,’ Nordigard reports.

Currently, an estimated 15% of the world’s plastic scrap is recycled. If this could be pushed to 50%, the plastics recycling sector (including petrochemicals solutions) could top EUR 55 billion per year, Nordigarden observes. This is quite a leap from 2018 levels, when revenue was just over 37 billion.

He adds that the majority (60%) of top 100 brands are welcoming recycled content. Around 40% of them want to invest heavily in innovation to accomplish an ‘industry shift’ towards sustainable products. Nordigarden mentions the Closed Loop Fund competition, involving 400+ leading manufacturers, as a means to realise more circular products.

‘Plastics aren’t necessarily the problem,’ underlines Victor Sanz, general manager of paper and packaging producer Saica Natur. ‘The real issue is the imbalance between plastics production and innovation — specifically sustainable design and recyclability,’ he notes. ‘That’s why Saica is all about accelerating circular plastics.’

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