Initiatives to Reduce Plastic Waste Leads to Growth in Global Plastic Recycling Market

Wide-spread environmental concerns about plastic waste are leading to increased demand for the plastic recycling (PR) market that has various uses for plastic waste. At the same time, and in line with this growing need, an increased number of industries that produce plastic products have committed to reducing their use of virgin plastic and ensuring that the plastic they do produce is recyclable, reusable, or compostable.

Growth of the Plastic Recycling Market

Valued at around $43.73 billion in 2018, research indicates that the plastic recycling market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.6% in revenue and 8.8% in volume by 2027. Findings are that rising environmental concerns will be the primary driving force along with the concerted global effort towards effective waste management and sustainability. Another is the growing awareness of the need for recycling plastic and the anticipated market growth of the PR market.

A new report released by Research and Markets in February 2020 gives a market snapshot in its executive summary and discusses the plastic recycling market by material type, source, application, and geography. Titled Global Plastic Recycling Market Size, Market Share, Application Analysis, Regional Outlook, Growth Trends, Key Players, Competitive Strategies and Forecasts, 2019 to 2027, it explores the roles of the many global and regional participants in the PR market and analyses anticipated acquisitions, partnerships, and collaborations. These, the report states, are likely to be the major strategies market players will follow in an endeavor to expand their geographic presence and market share.

An older report published mid-2018 gave a slightly lower CAGR for the period 2018 to 2023 of 4.3%. This report, Global Plastic Waste Management Market 2018 by Manufacturers, Regions, Type and Application, Forecast to 2023 stated that it would grow from an estimated $27,1000 in 2017 to $34,900 in 2023.

Global Focus

When research for the new report was carried out during 2018, the Asia-Pacific region including China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and India, had the highest market share in plastic recycling. This was attributed to the fact that the region has the largest share in the generation of plastic waste and is also the biggest plastic waste importer.

However, Europe was pinpointed as a region poised to become the fastest-growing in the PR market due to increasing government initiatives and the improvement of recycling facilities in this part of the world.

While the report covers at least 16 companies involved in plastic recycling globally, the Hungarian MOL Group has been highlighted as a result of its acquisition of Aurora, a German recycled plastic compounder company. MOL is a well-established supplier of virgin polymers and was motivated by its Enter Tomorrow 2030 strategy that aims to move its business from a traditional fuel-based model to a higher value-added petrochemical product portfolio. More specifically, MOL intends to strengthen its position as a supplier in the sustainable plastic compounding segment of the automotive industry.

The older report focused on plastic waste management not only in the Asia-Pacific region but also in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Use of Recycled Plastic

In terms of plastic materials, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) had the biggest market share in 2018. The reason given for this was a rapid surge in demand for PET and HDPE for the manufacturing of packaging. Hopefully, this won’t increase the production of PET and HDPE, but will rather help to get rid of waste.

As the CEO of Unilever, Alan Jope, said in a press statement late 2019: “Plastic has its place, but that place is not in the environment.” He was announcing Unilever’s commitment to halve its use of virgin plastic, reduce its use of plastic packaging, and dramatically step up its use of recycled plastic by 2025. They would also help to collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells – which will amount to about 600,000 tonnes per year, he said.

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Additionally, technological advances in the PR industry have led to other less expected uses including the manufacture of denim clothing.

Realizing the environmental impact production of denim clothing has, Levi Strauss & Co. has taken bold steps to reduce its use of water and chemicals in cotton and cotton-clothing production, and about a decade ago, the company launched its much more sustainable Water<Less range of jeans. In 2013, Levi’s used dumped plastic bottles and food trays to make 300,000 jeans and trucker jackets for its spring collection. Of course, not the entire product was made from plastic, but it was guaranteed that at least 20% came from recycled plastic content.

Many other items are also made from recycled plastic, some with more plastic content than others. They include bags, rugs and mats, blankets, bottles, planters, dog collars, shoes, decking, fencing, and outdoor furniture.

The Future of Plastic

While many people talk about plastic as a material that should be eradicated, it does have remarkable uses as Alan Jope implies. But there is a dire need to change our thinking. The irony is that when recycled plastic was invented it was used to try and solve environmental problems like reducing the hunting of elephants for ivory and to provide protective sheaths for electrical wiring.

There is undoubtedly too much virgin plastic being produced worldwide and during the process, there are too many other natural resources being depleted. Added to this, too many consumers have no knowledge or concern about the use and disposal of plastic products. They simply don’t care!

We, as a global nation, need to focus more on the reuse, recycling, and remanufacture of plastic, which is exactly what plastic recycling companies can do so successfully.

Ultimately, we need to eradicate plastic waste by making it useful, and there is no doubt that the mechanical engineering sector is well positioned to find solutions.

Alternatives for Plastic Wrapping and Packaging

There’s no denying that plastic wrap has been a convenient product in most households for many years. However, as most waste disposal companies will tell you, its convenience is only for you – not the environment. It stops your sandwiches from going stale, but it also takes centuries to break down. Your one sandwich wrapper could be responsible for killing a myriad of animals while it sits there waiting to lose its structural integrity. Fortunately, there is a better way. Read on to discover many wrapping and packaging materials that could end up being better for the environment.

Glass Containers

One of the many reasons why people want to make the switch from plastic is because it can take centuries to break down. However, so does glass, so why use it? Unlike plastic which tends to lean toward being a single-use product, glass is something you can have forever. It’s one of the longest-lasting materials and will prove to offer no end of convenience.

In most cases, you can use glass containers in your fridge, freezer, microwave, and even oven. You couldn’t do that with most plastic products. Glass containers are also an excellent alternative for plastic in almost every way. You can put your unwrapped sandwiches in them and seal the lid shut. You can also put leftover dinner into them for reheating later.

Glass containers are even something you can take to the grocery store. Instead of a supermarket filling a plastic container with their deli items or bulk groceries, you can fill your glass jars. One product can end up having many uses, saving thousands of plastic wrap rolls and containers from requiring waste disposal.

Mason Jars

Mason jars have been around since the 1850s, but it’s only in recent years there has been a resurgence in their use. As consumers come to realize that plastic is not environmentally-friendly, they are starting to use sealable mason jars that serve a whole variety of purposes. Cafes are using them for beverages, and you can even use them for serving at home. What’s more, there’s nothing wrong with using them for produce, soup, grains, and more. Move aside plastic; there’s a new player in town.

Parchment Paper

If you are trying to minimize how much rubbish you send away for waste disposal, then consider swapping your cling film for parchment paper. Wax or parchment paper is an excellent alternative, while also breaking down far quicker than plastic wrap. It will still keep your sandwiches fresh, but with a much less detrimental impact on the environment.

Bees Wrap

Bees wrap is a relatively new product to hit the market, but it’s already making waves. It consists of cotton muslin cloth dipped in beeswax, tree resin, and jojoba oil. When you heat them with your hands, you’re able to seal food within. Both the jojoba oil and beeswax are also antibacterial which can offer exceptional benefits with preservation.

When you have eaten your sandwich, you don’t need to worry about impacting waste disposal. You can clean the wraps and reuse them.

Cardboard

Many countries around the world have banned single-use plastic bags, with New Zealand the latest nation to join the movement. It will only be a matter of time before waste disposal businesses notice the dramatic impact in plastic waste. That’s a good thing – but how will people package their goods, or carry their groceries? Cardboard is about to become far more popular than it is now.

Instead of packaging your items in plastic, you can store them neatly in cardboard boxes. They break down into the environment, are effortless to stack, and you can use them more than once.

Go Nude

For the sake of waste disposal, why not consider going nude? We don’t mean take all your clothes off, but why not avoid packaging altogether? Grocery stores are not making this process easy with the number of plastic-wrapped items they have, but you can be more conscientious about the purchasing decisions you make.

Put your vegetables and fruit in cloth bags and your loose bulk bin items into glass jars. Instead of buying pasta, rice, and other ingredients in plastic packets, buy them from bulk stores that encourage you to bring containers to put them in. If you can’t seem to avoid plastic, then draw up a meal plan that differs from what you usually do. You can then make an effort to eat food that will not arrive in packaging.

Conclusion

People used to cope without plastic for packaging and wrapping, and they can do so again. Think of the effects of waste disposal and how you can stop your contribution to the growing problem. Use glass jars and containers, buy ingredients in bulk, and stop using plastic wrap for your sandwiches. These might seem like small changes, but when 7.7 billion people follow suit, we can make a significant difference.

Benefits of Biodegradable Packaging for Businesses

Consumers want companies to reflect their values. They’re far more likely to purchase from a business with an identity, whether it manifests in charitable efforts or eco-friendly practices. As a greater number of people show interest in green living, biodegradable packaging presents an opportunity for growth.

That said, the virtues of biodegradable packaging extend beyond an improved public image. While business owners enjoy the superficial advantages of this transition, they often find it’s only a fraction of what the shift entails. Through switching to biodegradable plastics, they see considerable changes elsewhere.

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In this article, we’ll detail five of those changes, exploring the subject to lend business owners a better understanding of biodegradable packaging within their operation. As we touch on the benefits, it’ll become clear that eco-friendly materials aren’t only better for the environment, but better for a company’s bottom line.

Free of Toxins & Allergens

Biodegradable packaging options are still somewhat limited, but most of the available materials are non-toxic and allergy-free. This is an essential consideration to consumers who care about the products they’re purchasing and the composition of their packaging. If either is potentially harmful, it hurts a business.

An informed consumer will almost invariably choose products packaged with bioplastic over traditional alternatives, aware of the implications of their purchase. Considering the negative health effects of phthalates — a common chemical in plastic packaging — business owners should be aware of the implications as well.

Require Fewer Resources

Biodegradable packaging has the potential to reduce water usage, solid waste, electricity and emissions. This is beneficial for the environment, of course, but it also lowers expenses associated with the packaging process. Over time, the accumulated savings prove well worth the cost of the transition.

If a company were to replace their standard packaging materials with bioplastic, they would enjoy weight savings on par with regular plastic. Research shows plastic packaging enables weight savings of over 78 percent compared to alternative materials, a notable statistic for business owners looking to convert.

Lower Production Costs

Most biodegradable materials follow the three basic R’s of sustainability.

  1. A business can reduce them, using fewer resources to create thinner and tougher materials which do the same job.
  2. A business can reuse them, taking advantage of materials with special coating which improves their durability.
  3. A business can recycle them, diverting refuse from landfills as they minimize the costs of new materials.

A business owner who invests in biodegradable packaging can cut costs by a significant margin, using fewer resources, reusing their inventory and purchasing inexpensive recycled materials. In doing so, they’ll see reduced packaging expenses over time, and more freely allocate their money elsewhere.

Reusing packaging is proving to be not only environmentally friendly, but an excellent marketing advantage. From Pinterest to Instagram, users are finding a way to re-purpose packaging. Business owners who are vocal in encouraging their customers to prioritize environmentally friendly choices can earn more goodwill and local business as a result. ToolTally is a good example of a blog that focuses on helping DIYers reuse products, and is growing an organic following as a result.

Reduced Footprint

A business owner has financial goals they have to meet, but they have environmental goals as well. Every professional in an upper-management position has a responsibility to ensure their company meets high standards of environmental compliance, and biodegradable packaging can help — outside a legal context.

To reinforce an earlier point, 70 percent of consumers between the ages of 15 and 20 want to buy goods from companies committed to sustainability, and biodegradable plastics affect the appeal of businesses which would otherwise see less attention. To reduce emissions and increase interest, change is necessary.

Convenient Disposal

Recyclable, compostable and biodegradable packaging simplifies disposal for the consumer. It affords them more options in discarding these materials, and companies should always seek to make their products convenient, from start to finish. Biodegradable materials exemplify this mindset.

For example, consumers who prefer to compost their refuse won’t have to make exceptions for packaging. They can add biodegradable packaging to their compost in much the same way they would with any other compost-friendly material, contributing to the product’s value beyond its primary utility.

Looking Toward the Future

When reviewing the benefits listed above, business owners should feel confident in their decision to adopt biodegradable packaging. More than superficial benefits, they’ll enjoy reduced costs and carbon emissions while increasing consumer convenience and reducing plastic pollution. The advantages are clear.

Looking toward the future, it’s safe to speculate more companies will transition toward eco-friendly practices. With this in mind, taking action now is the best option, and though biodegradable packaging is a small step, it’s an important one.