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Plastics sector ‘must go above and beyond’ to cure itself of target fever

Portugal – If entrepreneurs want to maximise innovation in the recycling sector then they should not leave the ‘€˜boring work’€™ to a specially selected team of analysts, urged EU legislation expert Dr Helmut Maurer at the recent Plastics Recyclers Europe conference. He lamented that some CEOs are more busy checking emails than reading up on in-depth technical reports.´If you don’€™t keep up to date with legislation and research projects, you will become more and more stupid every day,´ Maurer said. ´And then you cannot be expected to represent the plastics sector in any way, can you?´

In Maurer´s opinion, stakeholders are driven more each day by sentiment rather than wisdom. ´People are getting anxious, making them want to do things fundamentally different,´ he told delegates in Cascais, Portugal.

And he advised:´Regardless, we must think before we start to throw strategies onto the table.´

‘Working in unison’

Efforts should be going towards ‘getting all our brains working in unison,’ according to Simon Widmer of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. He cited the group’s recently published “The New Plastics Economy” report as a tool for more collaboration and education.

The in-depth analysis puts material value loss for the plastics industry at as much as US$ 120 billion a year, while negative environmental externalities are said to cost at least US$ 40 billion a year. ‘This figure is greater than the plastic packaging industry’s profit pool,’ Widmer pointed out.

‘No more beating around the bush’

Working groups on the first day of the event were very well attended; over 120 met up to share ideas and critiques, commented Maria Malinowski of plastics packaging manufacturer Schoeller Allibert. ´Unlike in the previous year, which is a clear sign that people in the plastics recycling industry are now ready to take action and bring the discussion to the next level´, she said.

Malinowski rejoiced at the intense engagement during these special sessions. ´People really took the opportunity to speak up without being polite about it. On our way to progress, there is too much beating around the bush, isn’t there?´ Malinowski told Recycling International. ´Honesty is the best policy.´

Going above and beyond

‘Around 1.3 million square metres of flooring are sold every day,’ said Elodie Jupin of PVC-based flooring manufacturer Tarkett. On a positive note, the company’s newest flooring is made from 94% natural ingredients and are 100% recyclable. ‘You know, I hate the word quota,’ Jupin remarked.

‘It gives the impression that all we have to do is reach it, happily throw our arms in the air and scream “yay!” That would be a misguided and passive attitude. We must push harder, we must go above and beyond targets.’

A full review of the PRE conference will be featured in the August issue of Recycling International.

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