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How to cure the Achilles heel of the plastics sector

Austria – ‘The glass is half full, people will often remark when talking about business prospects. There is nothing wrong with optimism. But, actually, I want people to feel a little less comfortable,’ said Maurits van Tol of polyolefin producer Borealis at the recent Identiplast conference in Vienna.

Hard work and a ‘fighting spirit’ is imperative to bringing about change, noted Van Tol. Borealis currently produces 3 grades of polymers – mainly used by car manufactures – that contain up to 50% recyclates.

This illustrates the ‘hugely important role’ of plastics in the automotive industry. The success is partly due to the fact that 1kg of polypropylene replacing steel can prevent more than eight kilogrammes of carbon emissions over the life of the vehicle.

‘But the growing amount of plastic waste is the Achilles heel of the plastics industry,’ Van Tol stated. ‘I don’t need to remind you of marine litter – we’ve all seen the pictures. I’ve seen it with my own eyes during a diving trip with my son. It was shocking,’ the entrepreneur said.

‘However, we should not be defensive. Instead, we should accept the reality and take responsibility. And not just by setting targets. The time to sit and wait is over,’ Van Tol urged.

His call to action was straightforward; ‘I cannot say this often enough; no more greenwashing! We have to back up our words with action. Join forces, and invest in R&D. Plough back money and efforts into further advancements in technology,’ he concluded.

A full review of the Identiplast conference will be published in our upcoming issue.

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