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Hinder och möjligheter för att öka källsortering av plastavfall från tillverkningsindustrin
RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Built Environment, System Transition and Service Innovation.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3869-1690
RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Built Environment, System Transition and Service Innovation.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5745-5960
RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Bioeconomy and Health, Material and Surface Design.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9673-7984
RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Bioeconomy and Health, Material and Surface Design.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5152-972x
2020 (Swedish)Report (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The consumption of plastics and the management of the generated amounts of plastic waste are two issues that have been some of the most prominent in the environmental debate in recent years. Today, large quantities of plastic waste from the Swedish manufacturing industry is generated that are not sorted for recycling but end up in combustible residual waste going to energy recovery, which means a significant waste of resources. Although large quantities of plastic waste originate from the manufacturing industry, the vast majority of initiatives related to a more resource-efficient management of plastic waste have focused on the plastic waste generated related to consumption. Relatively little focus has been on the primary plastic waste generated from the manufacturing industry.

The purpose of this project has been to contribute to increase the source sorting and recycling of plastic waste from the Swedish manufacturing industry. The goals were to identify and evaluate significant barriers faced by the Swedish manufacturing industry to increase the sorting of plastic in Sweden and to propose how the sorting of the plastic waste can increase.

The project and its results were based on a survey answered by manufacturing companies, which was supplemented by interviews with waste and recycling actors.

The results and conclusions of the project can be summarized as follows:

▪ There is considerable potential to increase the source sorting of generated plastic waste from the manufacturing industry

Of the companies that responded to the survey, 12 percent answered that no source sorting of plastic waste occurs. Although the number of responses was small and not representative of Sweden as a whole, the figures give an indication that the number of manufacturing companies and the amount of plastic waste that is not sorted out can be significant. Of the companies that stated that plastic packaging is generated, as many as 19 percent have no source sorting of plastic packaging. For plastic production waste and other process material containing plastic, a large proportion responded that no source sorting occurs, 26 and 53 percent, respectively.

▪ Manufacturing companies sorting out plastic waste have a high source sorting efficiency

The results from the project show that the companies that sort their waste also have high source sorting levels, ire. there is a small proportion of plastic waste generated that end up in combustible waste fractions. Almost 80 percent of manufacturing companies sort out at least 70 percent of the generated plastic packaging waste. For plastic production waste, about 78 percent sort out at least 70 percent of plastic waste generated. For other process materials containing plastics, the source sorting rate is considerably lower, 44 percent of the companies sort out at least 70 percent of the generated amounts.

▪ Existing barriers to increased sorting of plastic waste from the manufacturing industry are estimated to be relatively small

For each barrier, a majority of manufacturing companies indicated that the current barriers are not relevant or had a minor impact on the sorting of plastic waste. However, it should be pointed out that there are major differences between individual companies where some experience major barriers to increase their source sorting of plastic waste.

The technical barriers are the most important ones in increasing the source sorting of plastic waste from the manufacturing industry

For all three plastic waste streams studied, the technical barriers were the most significant to overcome in order to increase the source sorting and recycling of plastic waste from the manufacturing industry. For plastic packaging, the most important technical obstacle was that plastic packaging was contaminated. For production waste, a complex material composition, contamination and the fact that a sufficiently high quality cannot be guaranteed, were the major obstacles. For other process materials, small amounts of waste were considered to be the most important barrier. Other technical barriers for other process materials containing plastics were the presence of contaminants and that a sufficiently high quality of the waste cannot be guaranteed.

▪ The incentives to increase the source sorting of plastic waste are small

Although the barriers to increased source sorting are relatively small, the incentives to increase source sorting for manufacturing companies are also small. Overall, the responses to the survey indicate that the costs related to waste management constitute a small proportion of the total production cost of manufacturing companies. This means that the financial incentives to reduce their production costs through better source sorting are small. Although several source sorted plastic fractions have a material value, the cost associated with the collection of the plastic waste is considerable and may also exceed the revenue a manufacturing company receives for the material itself. A significant proportion (21 percent) of respondents also stated that the cost of source sorted plastics is in the same order of magnitude as for combustible and sorted waste fractions.

▪ A large proportion of manufacturing companies use secondary plastic raw materials in their production

Of the respondents, around half of them use secondary plastic raw material in their production. Although a majority of these use smaller quantities (<10%), reported figures indicate that there is a demand for recycled plastic raw materials in the manufacturing industry. Limitations in quality as well as large variations in the quality of recycled plastic raw materials are considered to be the main reasons why manufacturing companies use more secondary plastics in their production. The quality aspect and that secondary raw material does not meet the set quality requirements is the major reason why half of the responding companies do not use any secondary plastic raw material in their production. This shows the importance of high quality of the source sorted plastics but also sorting and recycling techniques which can handle quality deviations in collected plastic waste.

Recommendations for increasing the source sorting and recycling of the generated plastic waste from the manufacturing industry can be summarized as follows:

▪ Utilize conventional goods transport for reverse logistics of plastic waste to a greater extent

Plastic waste is often bulky, which means that costs associated with collection are significant in relation to the material value of the plastic waste and can also exceed the revenue generated for the material. Since conventional goods transport often goes back empty after delivery, there is a potential to transport the generated plastic waste to a greater extent. In a future project, the opportunities and barriers exist should be explored to realize this on a large scale, where differences between different industries also exist.

Increased collaboration between waste and recycling actors in the collection of plastic waste

Waste and recycling companies which collect waste from businesses and industries operate in a competitive market. This can hamper an efficient collection of plastic waste from industries as several waste and recycling companies have customers located in the same geographical area. Through increased collaboration, improved logistics could be obtained together with a reduced environmental impact at the collection. If the costs of collection can be reduced, the manufacturing companies can be offered a higher price for source sorted plastics and thus increase the financial incentives of source sorting.

▪ Increased collaboration between actors in the value chain

Increased collaboration, communication and transparency between actors in the value chain (manufacturing industry, waste and recycling companies, material manufacturers to suppliers), are also necessary to achieve increased source sorting and recycling of plastic waste. Material recycling is a much more sensitive process in terms of contamination, quality, etc. compared to energy recycling which today receives large amounts of plastic waste. Therefore, it is important that quality requirements and measures to achieve these are stated and communicated by each actor in the value chain in order to enable high quality of recycled plastic raw material. Requirements and measures to reach sufficiently high quality is something the actors in the value chain have great experience and know-how in the manufacture of products, why much of this could be applied to the plastic waste generated from the production.

▪ Utilize the possibilities of chemical recycling of plastic waste

A limitation with the mechanical recycling that exists today is that it is relatively sensitive to contaminants, lack of quality and when materials other than plastic are present. These aggravating circumstances can be mitigated by chemical and/or thermal recycling processes which are significantly less sensitive compared to the mechanical recycling processes. These technologies are not fully developed but have great potential to be alternatives for recycling the plastic waste that is not possible to be recycled mechanically.

▪ Reduce the number of plastic types for plastic packaging and other process materials

A significant barrier is the large number of types of plastics used, which makes source sorting difficult and expensive. For plastic packaging but also other process materials containing plastics, the possibilities of reducing the number of different types of plastic are considerably easier compared to plastic production waste whose content and quality are affected by the industry and product being manufactured. One tool to achieve this is to develop guidelines and set requirements for material content in packaging and recyclability at procurement. By reducing the number of plastic types, the source sorting process is simplified and larger quantities of different types of plastic waste are obtained.

▪ Continuous information efforts and feedback to production personnel

Providing employees with continuous feedback through KPIs etc. is fundamental and something that many manufacturing companies use as a tool for their continuous improvement. This is also something that should be applied when handling waste, where production personnel should receive continuous feedback on waste sorting and the importance of source sorting. There is still a widespread perception that source sorted plastics are still being incinerated, which is important to prevent to get a motivated production staff. In this work, it is also important to highlight why a source sorting of plastics is important from a global and environmental perspective that extends beyond the business economic perspective.

▪ Goal monitoring of the company's waste management

Although the two barriers lack of target follow-up and feedback on source sorting of plastic waste and the absence of directives from the management were considered to be of minor importance overall, there were individual manufacturing companies that considered these barriers to be significant. A recommendation is therefore to set up recycling targets within organizations, follow up, revise these and communicate these to employees.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2020. , p. 85
Series
RISE Rapport ; 2020:28
Keywords [en]
material recycling, plastic waste, production waste, process waste, other process material, manufacturing, plastic packaging, survey
National Category
Natural Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ri:diva-44704ISBN: 978-91-89167-10-0 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ri-44704DiVA, id: diva2:1422409
Note

Innehåller även bilagor.

Available from: 2020-04-07 Created: 2020-04-07 Last updated: 2023-05-25Bibliographically approved

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Jensen, CarlEdo, MarLindberg, SivLindström, Annika

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