Circularity limitations a challenge for developing packaging sustainability

In the second of a series of interviews with sponsors of the Sustainability Awards 2018, Günter Stephan, head of circular economy at Borealis, shares with Tim Sykes his vision for helping realise circularity in plastics.

From our point of view there are two major challenges when it comes to the packaging sustainability.

The first are the limitations around recycling technologies for polyolefin-based packaging.

For instance, if they are used for food packaging, at the moment polyolefin materials can’t be recycled back into new food packaging.

The second key challenge is that recycling polyolefins and plastics in general is not very profitable compared with virgin polymers.

So we really need to overcome these technological / profitability challenges in order to achieve a step-change in sustainability of packaging.

Perhaps more fundamentally, the world needs to adopt a mindset that throwing away plastics is a bad idea, because it’s too valuable a resource.

Unfortunately, the perception that polyolefins are raw materials that ought to go in the recycling bin (like glass, aluminium, sometimes PET bottles) is not yet widespread.

At the moment too many plastics are going into the other waste stream, so they have a linear, rather...

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