Recycling of plastics in Germany

Citation
M. Patel et al., Recycling of plastics in Germany, RESOUR CON, 29(1-2), 2000, pp. 65-90
Citations number
47
Language
INGLESE
art.tipo
Article
Categorie Soggetti
Environment/Ecology,"Environmental Engineering & Energy
Journal title
RESOURCES CONSERVATION AND RECYCLING
ISSN journal
0921-3449 → ACNP
Volume
29
Issue
1-2
Year of publication
2000
Pages
65 - 90
Database
ISI
SICI code
0921-3449(200004)29:1-2<65:ROPIG>2.0.ZU;2-Y
Abstract
This article deals with the waste management of post-consumer plastics in G ermany and its potential to save fossil fuels and reduce CO2 emissions. Sin ce most of the experience available is for packaging the paper first gives an outline of the legislative background and the material flows for this se ctor. The recycling and recovery processes for plastics waste from all sect ors are then assessed in terms of their potential contribution to energy sa ving and CO2 abatement. Practically all the options studied show better per formance regarding these two aspects than waste treatment in an average inc inerator (which has been chosen as the reference case). High ecological ben efits can be achieved by mechanical recycling if virgin polymers are substi tuted. The cost effectiveness of reducing energy use and CO2 emissions is d etermined for a number of technologies. There is large scope to reduce the costs, with an estimated overall saving potential of 50% within one to two decades. The paper then presents scenario projections which are based on th e assumption that the total plastics waste in Germany in 1995 is treated in processes which will be available by 2005; considerable savings can be mad e by moving away from the business-as-usual path to highly efficient waste incinerators (advanced waste-to-energy facilities). Under these conditions the distribution of plastics waste among mechanical recycling and feedstock recycling has a comparatively small impact on the overall results. The max imum savings amount to 74 PJ of energy, i.e. 9% of the chemical sector's en ergy demand in 1995 and 7.0 Mt CO2, representing 13% of the sector's emissi ons and 0.8% of Germany's total CO2 emissions. This shows that plastics was te management offers some scope for reducing environmental burdens. The ass essment does not support a general recommendation of energy recovery, mainl y due to the large difference between the German average and the best avail able waste-to-energy facilities.(1) (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All righ ts reserved.