Dual Systems: On The Way to More Recyclates
Dual systems have been collecting, sorting and recycling sales packaging for trade and industry since 1991 - and thus play a central role in plastics recycling. Ten providers now compete on the German market.
Recyclates again readily available, but virgin material cheaperLast year, recyclates were in short supply. Recently, however, the wind has changed. "Recyclates are currently in good supply, although many plants are only running at partial load," says Dr. Thomas Probst of the German Association for Secondary Raw Materials and Waste Disposal (bvse).
However, virgin materials are currently cheaper, and demand for secondary raw materials is correspondingly subdued. "Of course, this also inhibits opportunities to invest in manufacturing capacity," says Norbert Völl, spokesman at Grüner Punkt. Nevertheless, the pioneer among the dual systems intends to further expand its two recycling facilities. With a market share of around 17 percent for lightweight packaging (LVP), the Cologne-based company ranks second behind industry leader Bellandvision. Only Reclay Systems, Interseroh+, Zentek - and Prezero, the in-house dual system of the Schwarz retail group with its Lidl and Kaufland brands - still have double-digit market shares in LVP.
Schwarz strategy seems to be paying offWith Prezero, the retail giant entered the supply business itself in 2020. Since then, the Schwarz Group has held all stages of the recycling cycle in one hand. The concept seems to be working.
According to the group, Lidl has already almost reached the target it set itself - by 2025, a quarter of its own-brand plastic packaging should be made of recycled material - with 23 percent. Kaufland has even exceeded the quota with 29 percent. In the case of PET bottles, production has been completely converted to recyclate, apart from labels and caps.
Prezero competitor Interseroh+ has adopted a similar approach. The former Lidl partner now cooperates closely with competitor Aldi, which in return gave Remondis subsidiary Eko-Punkt the boot after just one year. "Beyond packaging licensing, the dual system Interseroh+ offers the complete recyclables cycle from a single source - from recycling-friendly packaging design to high-quality recyclates for a sustainable cycle," says Markus Müller-Drexel, CEO of Interseroh+. Recyclates are developed at the company's own competence center in Maribor.
"Collection must be improved"So all is well? Challenges remain in any case. Among other things, Interseroh+ sees them in the trend toward composite packaging, which would complicate the sorting process and make recycling impossible in some cases. Green Dot wants to "intelligently combine" mechanical and chemical processes in order to obtain more recyclate from plastic waste.
The bvse expert Probst also considers the design for recycling to be expandable. In addition, however, collection must also be improved, especially for lightweight packaging. The LVP collection contains more and more residual waste, favored by the changeover from bags to garbage cans and by underfloor containers, he said. "People are more likely to put residual waste in a garbage can once. No one sees it." The collection of LVP must be comparable to the collection of paper, he said. "There is still a world of difference in quality here."