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The Value Chain of the Future is Circular

A statement of Ulrich Bartel, President at Coperion, on forward-looking technologies for recycling plastics

Ulrich Bartel, President Coperion
Ulrich Bartel, President Coperion

“Demand for plastics in society is increasing: Plastic materials were long celebrated as technical achievements with no downsides, but now producers and processors must frequently justify themselves – for manufacturing the goods, for using them, and now more and more often for the question of their recyclability.

Driven by the rising demands worldwide for a circular plastics economy, a clear trend toward more recycling has taken shape in recent years. However, striving toward an increase in the proportion of recycled material in plastics production is not new.

The plastics industry has been blazing the trail toward a circular economy for a long time. As well it should; if for no other reason than to reduce the percentage of plastics in the global carbon footprint, recycling must be boosted while use of fossil resources must be reduced.

In order to realize this goal, companies are developing more and ever better recycling technologies. Even today, they are enabling the circular use of hard-to-recycle plastics and even plastic compounds. Chemical recycling will not replace material recovery but rather is expected to supplement it in a meaningful way.

At every trade show, at every public opportunity, the industry presents examples of milestones along the way to a circular economy over and over again: most recently at IFAT and the Plastics Recycling World Expo, and next at K show.

We at Coperion believe that plastics will continue to be indispensable in reconciling economic prosperity with ecological responsibility. With the goal that plastics recycling not remain the exception but instead become everyday practice, we consistently direct our entire range of products and services for the plastics industry toward the ability to use material not just linearly, but circularly as well.

Our acquisition of Herbold Meckesheim as well as our recent product innovations are illustrative of our commitment. The new ZS-B MEGAfeed side feeder optimizes recycling of lightweight and high-volume fibers and flakes, in some cases making it possible in the first place. Moreover, we are currently building our Recycling Innovation Center in Niederbiegen/Weingarten, Germany, where customers will be able to develop and test new sustainable products and recycling processes together with our experts.

Even if the pressure from users, NGOs and politicians plays an important role in conveying society’s expectation to the industry, at the end of the day, the availability of efficient and economically as well as ecologically sensible recycling technology determines how plastics find their place in the circular economy of the future.”

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