Motivation

© istock/BIM

Plastic consumption: 12 million tons. In Germany. Per year.

Plastics such as polyethylene (PE), polypropylene (PP) and polystyrene (PS) are among the world's most important materials. Many everyday products and modern technologies would be unthinkable without their use. In Germany alone, around 12 million tons of plastics are therefore consumed every year. They are almost always produced from fossil raw materials, and direct CO2 emissions from plastics production in Germany amount to around 49 megatons per year. At the same time, around 6.3 million metric tons of waste containing plastics are produced in this country every year, 53 percent of which is thermally recycled and 47 percent of which is recycled.

The vision: keeping more plastic in the cycle

The carbon contained in plastics is an important resource for the chemical industry. Currently, only about a quarter of the carbon and carbon compounds are kept in the cycle. If it is possible to better identify the carbon-containing components in waste, recycle them more effectively and use them to produce high-quality feedstock for industry again, this value can be significantly increased. This not only reduces the need for fossil resources and CO2 emissions, but also the pollution of the environment with plastic waste, which can reach the food chain in the form of microplastics and is also becoming an ever greater burden for companies due to rising prices (CO2 certificates, import stop of previous consumer countries). At the same time, the security of supply for industry is improving because an additional source of carbon is being tapped.

The opportunity: future prospects for regions undergoing structural change

In addition to the chemical industry and plastics processing, companies in waste management, recycling plant construction and recycling plant operation can also benefit from the solutions envisaged in the "Waste4Future" lighthouse project. In particular, Germany's regions undergoing structural change can open up new business areas and develop future prospects for the population through innovative transformation paths of a carbon cycle economy.