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8 Transformational Growth Themes for Brand Owners Committed to Circularity
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Having successfully supported diverse applications across demanding industries, polymers and composites have emerged as key enablers of innovation in product design and manufacturing. Their exceptional physical and chemical properties, coupled with ease of processing and lower cost, render them ideal for a diverse set of applications across industries, such as packaging, automotive, electrical and electronics, furniture, building and construction, and consumer goods.
Nearly 370 million tonnes of plastic were consumed in 2019, and overall plastic waste collection volumes were estimated to be 45% to 50% of the total consumption. However, the grim reality of the existing shortfall in plastic waste handling is that only under a third of the plastic waste collected is recycled while two-thirds of the volume is either sent to landfills or incinerators or to energy recovery. Packaging accounts for more than 40% of overall plastic consumption and composes more than 55% of total global plastic waste; less than 15% of the plastic packaging waste so generated is collected for recycling.
In the wake of ever-rising pressure, from both consumers and government bodies, leading brand owners and OEMs across diverse sectors have adopted ambitious targets to integrate sustainability and circularity into their business activities.
Frost & Sullivan’s research, 'Convergence and Collaboration to Usher Circular Economy in the Plastics and Composites Industry,' focuses on what companies in the plastic and composite industries are doing to achieve a more circular economy, and how this is likely to develop between 2020 and 2025.
Through 2019 and 2020, aside from the COVID-19 pandemic, the biggest single global issue was the environment: climate change, the unsustainable use of resources, and the growing realization of the impact of waste. One of the primary strategies being employed to reduce human impact on the environment is the transition to a more circular economy. As these strategies are numerous, complex, and hard to navigate, many companies are set on achieving circularity through one of the various 'loops' that are available.
Frost & Sullivan has identified eight individual themes that are used in this research to categorize the many different strategies being employed by companies to create a more circular economy for plastics.
2. Mechanical recycling
3. Purification and depolymerization
4. Feedstock recycling
6. Alternative feedstock
7. Enabling technologies
While four of these are individual circular loops, three are additional perspectives on how to make the industry more circular and sustainable. The final loop—collaboration—focuses on digital technology and the role it will play in enabling traceability of material, from end-of-life to its second life, no matter which loop it goes through to get there. The primary focus of this research is to provide an assessment of the potential for the aforementioned eight themes.
A swift transition to a circular economy entails the development of a system composed of a series of interlinked loops, coupled with the convergence of technologies and collaborative engagements that ensure constant reduction, reuse, regeneration, and recycling of plastics.
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Author: Gautam Rashingkar
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