Today it's hard to imagine households and industries without plastic, from food packaging and toys to high-tech machines. Plastic is made from petroleum, which is an expensive and limited resource. Recycling is therefore becoming even more important. A valuable source of recyclable material is the Yellow Bag collection system.
The European Union has asserted that no waste should be generated in the near future and that precious raw materials should be conserved. As supplies of metals, rare earth elements, oil and gas become tight, alternative sources of raw materials are growing more important.
Recycling, however, is not so simple. The key to high-quality recycling products depends on the quality of the recyclates, the material yielded by the recycling process which is used in the manufacture of new products. This quality is present in the homes of consumers, or rather, in the post-consumer collection of materials. With the Yellow Bag and Yellow Bins, the Green Dot (Duales System Deutschland or DSD) set the standards that make possible the reuse of plastic waste. Year after year DSD collects 2.5 million tons of lightweight packaging made of different plastics, metals and composite materials.
With its Systalen brand the DSD Green Dot offers plastic of post-consumer recyclates obtained from plastic packaging and products which consumers accrue as waste and put into the Yellow Bag. Approximately 40 percent of that waste is recycled into new plastic. It, in turn, is used to manufacture high-quality recycled products which are suitable for injection molding and extrusion blow molding.
In Germany there are sorting facilities in which different types of plastics, metals and other materials are mechanically separated into single varieties. The process covers many steps in the conversion of waste from the Yellow Bag into plastic flakes. What began with the collection of materials in the consumer's own four walls starts anew with the reappearance of high-quality end products made of recyclates in the closed recycling loop.
Development is forging ahead! Within the scope of the "open innovation" process, the Recyclate Initiative has utilized ultra-modern laser spectroscopy to sort PET waste so finely that it can be reused to manufacture new, transparent and even foodstuff-compatible PET packaging. In still another project, Werner & Mertz, the Green Dot and ALPLA Werke Alwin Lehner GmbH became the first in the world to obtain PE waste from the Yellow Bag for the manufacture of translucent PE bottles. In September 2016 the initiative received the German Packaging Award in the Sustainability category for its groundbreaking work.