Ban­ning indi­vi­dual plastic pro­ducts is ineffective

ALPLA backs recy­cling and the cir­cular eco­nomy – this is where legis­la­tion is needed

Hard, 5 June 2018 – ALPLA, the Aus­trian pack­a­ging solu­tions spe­cia­list, takes a highly cri­tical view of planned EU regu­la­tions on single use plastics. Ban­ning indi­vi­dual pro­ducts threa­tens the Euro­pean Cir­cular Eco­nomy Action Plan in its ent­i­rety. As well as edu­ca­ting con­su­mers tho­roughly, sus­tainable collec­tion and pro­ces­sing solu­tions to sup­port plastic recy­cling, and the cir­cular eco­nomy in turn, would be more beneficial.

According to ALPLA CEO Gün­ther Lehner, one major cri­tique of the pro­posed direc­tive con­cerns the defi­ni­tion of single use pro­ducts: ‘the term “single use plastics” is mis­lea­ding and con­fuses con­su­mers. It creates the impres­sion that these pro­ducts are avo­idable, alt­hough there are con­crete grounds for single use, such as hygiene or trans­por­ta­tion requirements.’

Rather than con­fu­sing con­su­mers, edu­ca­ting them would be more effec­tive, adds Lehner. ‘Con­su­mers must under­stand that after use, pack­a­ging does not become worth­less rub­bish, but valu­able raw mate­rials for industry. By dis­po­sing of pro­ducts pro­perly, ever­yone can con­tri­bute to the cir­cular eco­nomy and help pre­vent pol­lu­tion of the world’s oceans.’ Legal gui­de­lines are required to create the con­di­tions for a func­tional and effec­tive cir­cular eco­nomy, says Lehner.

Recy­cling: redu­cing green­house gases, pro­tec­ting fossil resources
Demand for recy­cling mate­rials has risen signi­fi­cantly. As the ALPLA CEO has fre­quently pointed out, over the past three years, the con­ver­sa­tion has moved away from being purely about costs. Sus­taina­bi­lity as a principle has become ent­ren­ched in the industry, not least due to rising con­sumer demand. ‘We see the Euro­pean Commission’s Plastics Stra­tegy published in January as a posi­tive signal. It sets out an important frame­work for the industry. The expan­sion of recy­cling capa­bi­lity in Europe is par­ti­cu­larly wel­come. This gives recycling-friendly design a signi­fi­cant boost,’ Lehner insists.

Tech­no­logy has come a long way
ALPLA ope­rates three recy­cling plants: in Aus­tria, in Poland and a joint ven­ture in Mexico. ‘We have invested a great deal in our recy­cling ope­ra­tions in recent years. Tech­no­logy has come such a long way that we are now able to pro­duce recy­cled PET at our Wöl­lers­dorf site with only a tenth of the green­house gas emis­sions for new goods,’ says Lehner. He believes the recy­cling industry has enor­mous poten­tial and can make a major con­tri­bu­tion to achie­ving global CO2 targets.

The major advan­tage of plastic, par­ti­cu­larly PET, is its good recy­cling capa­bi­lity. New sub­s­tances, such as bio­based plastics, are ope­ning up new sus­tainable pro­spects for the future of the industry. In all honesty, I think the planned bans put these suc­cesses and efforts at risk,’ worries Lehner.

Weig­hing the alternatives
With regard to alter­na­tive pack­a­ging solu­tions, Lehner won­ders ‘whe­ther the alter­na­tives are better for the envi­ron­ment. In my opi­nion, the lack of cla­rity means that pro­blems are just shifted onto other raw mate­rials instead.’

More infor­ma­tion:

About ALPLA:
ALPLA is one of the leading companies in plastic packaging. Around 19,300 employees worldwide produce custom-made packaging systems, bottles, closures and moulded parts at 176 sites across 45 countries. The high-quality packaging is used in a wide range of areas, including for food and drinks, cosmetics and care products, household detergents, washing and cleaning agents, engine oils and lubricants. ALPLA also operates recycling plants at three locations (Austria, Poland, Mexico) with an annual capacity of 65,000 tonnes of food-grade rPET. ALPLA celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2015.

Addi­tional infor­ma­tion for editors:
ALPLA, Alex­andra Dittrich (PR and Cor­po­rate Com­mu­ni­ca­tions), Tele­phone +43 (0)5574 6021 083, Email
Pzwei. Pres­se­ar­beit, Werner F. Sommer, Tele­phone +43 (0)699 1025 4817, Email