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Everyone is heading for recycling

13 October 2020

Given current world trends, recycling will be increasingly more important as societies work to keep metal, cardboard, plastic and other materials within a circular economy, in order to reduce their presence in the environment.

In March 2019, the European Parliament banned the use of disposable plastics by 2021. By then, in European Union (EU) member countries it will not be possible to sell or use plastic cutlery, plates, light bulbs, cotton swabs, or balloon sticks, among other products. Concurrently, the Parliament set recycling goals and broadened the responsibilities of companies that use plastics in the packaging of their products. Accordingly, EU member countries must achieve 90% recycling of plastic bottles by 2029. And these bottles must contain at least 25% recycled material by 2025, and 30% by 2030.

In parallel, in December 2018 Great Britain published what The Guardian newspaper described as a “comprehensive new waste strategy.” Among the proposals, the strategy envisions a tax on plastic packaging containing less than 30% of recycled material, a simpler labeling system, and a mechanism to force companies to take responsibility for the plastic packaging they produce.

Meanwhile, global companies, pressured by the demands of public opinion, have committed to recycling on a scale never before seen. Coca-Cola, for example, has promised that by 2030 it will collect and recycle one bottle or can for each one it sells. And by the same year, the company aims for its packaging to contain at least 50% recycled material. Unilever is committed to ensuring that all its plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025, and to using at least 25% recycled plastic in its packaging, also by 2025. Giants like Procter & Gamble and McDonald’s have set similar goals for themselves.

Other countries are following the lead of the EU and Great Britain. In Chile, for example, Law 20.920 on Extended Producer Responsibility (REP in Spanish) was enacted in June 2016. This law established a framework for waste management, extended producer responsibilities and promotion of recycling, and is being implemented with progressively increasing recycling goals to give companies time to adapt their procedures.

Wenco began its venture into recycling in 2012 with the founding of Greenplast, a company which today recycles polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP), and is the leading Chilean company for recycling rigid plastics. Starting in 2019, Plaz recycles PET from plastic bottles and other packaging in Peru.

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