The 2023 China Green Recycled Plastics Supply Chain Forum

The 2023 China Green Recycled Plastics Supply Chain Forum

Jul 22, 2023

China Green Recycled Plastics Supply Chain Forum

This year's World Environment Day, the United Nations' slogan is "Reduce Plastic, Pick Up Plastic", aiming to reduce global plastic pollution.

"In 2022, my country's flexible packaging plastic consumption will be approximately 32.8 million tons, of which approximately 16 million tons of domestic plastic flexible packaging will be used, and the recycling volume will be approximately 1.3 million tons, with a recycling rate of 8.7%." This was announced at the 2023 Green Recycled Plastics Supply Chain Forum Data disclosed in the "China Plastic Flexible Packaging Recycling Baseline Report"

This forum is jointly sponsored by China Petroleum and Chemical Industry Federation, China Materials Recycling Association, China Plastics Processing Industry Association, and co-organized by the Green Recycled Plastic Supply Chain Joint Working Group (GRPG), China Environmental Protection Federation and other organizations.

We noticed that the recycling rate of 8.7% is far lower than the 30% recycling rate of waste plastics in my country. What does plastic flexible packaging mean? Why are recycling rates so low? What's the point of increasing its recycling rate?

A "express garbage" recycling point in Shanghai. The report shows that the express packaging field accounts for 9% of the usage of plastic flexible pouch packaging for daily life.

The recycling rate of domestic soft plastic packaging is only 8.7%, which is far lower than the 30% recycling rate of waste plastics in my country. A large amount of waste flexible packaging is landfilled or incinerated, causing huge resource waste and environmental risks.

Why is the recycling rate of plastic flexible packaging low?

What factors affect plastic flexible packaging recycling? The "Report" believes that there are five main reasons: low awareness of recyclability, low value, high recycling costs, difficulty in high-value regeneration and application, insufficient connection between upstream and downstream demand, and insufficient ecological design of plastic flexible packaging.

The survey found that only 18% of residents believe that it can be recycled, and more than 93% of residents cannot distinguish between flexible packaging of single material, composite material and degradable material, which brings challenges to front-end classification and collection. Because the income from recycling waste plastic flexible packaging is low, residents are not willing to accumulate it. Due to its characteristics, recyclers have high logistics costs and it is difficult to automate sorting.

At the same time, soft plastics come in various colors and are accompanied by contaminants such as printing and attached impurities, making it difficult for some recycled particles to be used in relatively high-value fields. The design of plastic flexible packaging directly determines whether it is easy to recycle and regenerate. It is single, transparent, non-printed, not contaminated, and easy to sort. It is most likely to be accepted by the recycling system.

How to improve the recycling rate of soft plastics?

Implement green ecological design standards for plastic flexible packaging to improve the easy recycling and regeneration of plastic flexible packaging; carry out the construction of a waste plastic flexible packaging recycling system and explore a sustainable commercial operation model; establish a chemical recycling pilot that can be experimented first and then replicated and promoted; adopt policies Stimulate and expand the application demand for recycled plastics and form a closed loop for plastic flexible packaging.

We should refine the current garbage classification system, add classification and collection devices for low-value recyclables, increase the infrastructure for recycling and disposal of plastic waste in the city, and improve the recycling system from plastic production to end-of-line disposal.

At the same time, we will promote the linkage of all links in the recycling industry chain, select pilot cities to promote the construction of a recycling system, and explore a replicable and scalable market-oriented model suitable for national conditions for the recycling of low-value waste plastics.

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