Polymer Industry

Keep on Track, Despite Market Turmoils: The Future of Polymers

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Concern for adequate raw materials and energy supply is also the essential drive behind the recycling management concepts and intiatives of the European Commission. Its ambitious Circular Economy Package (CEP) introduced in 2015 shall help to promote recycling and reuse, including a revision of the garbage legislation that sets a uniform EU target for the recycling of 75 % of packaging waste by 2030, and a ban on dumping of separately collected waste matter. At present, less than 25 % of plastics waste is recycled and approx. 50 % is disposed in garbage dumps.

Too little, too late in the eyes of the European Plastics Manufacturers’ Association: “For a long time now, the European plastics industry has been promoting a legally binding dumping restriction on all recyclable and other reusable post-consumer waste materials”, explains the association. “Although a 10 % target is a step in the right direction, it remains a half-hearted attempt.”

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European Bioplastics (EUBP), the association of suppliers of bio-based plastics, responded positively to the report and says that “Future-oriented sectors with pronounced environment protection advantages and growth potentials like bio-plastics should be promoted.” The association projects that the production capacities for bio-plastics in the EU will increase 20 times to 5.7 million tons by 2025.

Setting the Course

Despite all these concerns, the European plastics industry has set its sights on new opportunities: Chemicals companies and plant manufacturers want to position themselves in the battle for market share with the new light-weight building materials or intelligent systems. Thus for instance, Covestro presents itself as a solution provider for future challenges like energy efficient building or light-weight construction, for which the company wants to make its mark with new polyurethane foams.

Further, special polymers for the additive production or 3D-printing supplements the portfolio of the former Bayer Material Science — just like the firm’s new Cardyol Technology for the utilisation of the greenhouse gas CO2 in the manufacturing of high-quality polyols.