Legal framework conditions and challenges as well as ways to improve the circular economy were the main topics at the Austrian Packaging Day 2022.
Working together for sustainable packaging – cooperation and transparency in the exchange of information between all companies involved in the supply chain – was the main topic at the fourth Austrian Packaging Day in Vienna. The Packaging Day is supported by the FACHPACK trade fair, among others.
With the Austrian Plastics Study 2022, the Packaging and Resource Management Department of the FH Campus Vienna provided information on current data and the status quo in fullfilling recycling quotas in Austria. The Austrian Plastics Study 2022, prepared in collaboration by the FH Campus Wien and Circular Analytics TK GmbH, provides information on sorting and recycling rates in the plastics sector in Austria. It also shows sustainability ratings of the plastic packaging of selected products, such as beverages, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables, but also hygiene products and non-food products. The sustainability analysis takes a comprehensive look at product protection, circularity, and environmental aspects of packaging and compares plastic packaging with alternatives made from other materials. In the future, this method will be used to evaluate the impact of reducing plastic packaging and, thus, will provide assistance for sustainable packaging.
Recommendations for the design of recyclable packaging
From the Austrian Packaging Day, industry representatives were also able to take away the updated Circular Packaging Design Guidelines – published by the FH Campus Vienna in cooperation with Circular Analytics TK GmbH and Packforce Austria. These recommendations for the design of recyclable packaging have been expanded in their 5th edition to include legal and structural framework conditions and contain new guidance specifically for plastic packaging, composite beverage cartons, and for packaging made of paper, cardboard, and paper board.
With technical expertise from the Packaging and Resource Management Department of the FH CampuVienna, the ECR Circular Packaging Initiative has in recent years put together a comprehensive package of assistance for current and upcoming challenges, such as the higher recycling rates of the EU Circular Economy Package. The currently issued ECR Recommendation for Packaging Master Data complements the Packaging Design for Recycling guides, the Global Recommondation for Circular Packaging Design developed in cooperation with the World Packaging Organisation, and the Sustainability Assessment of Packaging.
Master data calculation for circular economy
Dagmar Glatz, who is responsible for more sustainable packaging at dm in Germany, was one of the renowned speakers in Vienna. The plastics engineer explained that collecting master data is important for calculating recycled content. For dm, it was important not to single out just one aspect, such as the packaging of products, but to constantly improve the entire ecological footprint of the product range, Glatz said. Through these calculations, the retail company was able to quickly find and implement the greatest potential for improvement.
dm’s goals: to achieve 90 percent recyclability of packaging by 2025 and to reduce the amount of plastic used by 45 percent relative to the amount used in 2018. By then, all non-food plastic packaging should also have a recycled content of at least 50 percent. The main goal, she said, for private label brands was to make savings on packaging material. This lever is particularly effective. For example, even in the case of already very thin-walled bottles made of plastic or film, further reductions could be made on closer inspection. This alone reduced the amount of material used even further.
“It was obvious that this could only be achieved in cooperation with partners along the value chain. That’s why in 2018 dm created the “Forum Rezyklat”, a platform that regularly brings together players from industry, trade, waste disposal companies, and politics. Individual consumers also have an opportunity to drive the circular economy forward through their consumption behavior. Industry and politics are responsible for the fundamental system change,” Glatz said.