Our position

Complete elimination of plastic and transition to biodegradable packaging? Increased use of recycling material, with no impact on quality? And what about the use of PVC in construction products?

Finding answers to complex challenges requires interdisciplinary expertise and fundamental discussions. With Cradle to Cradle®, we follow a holistic design concept, which not only considers the constituents used, but also scenarios for their use. Our EPEA position on selected topics is presented below:   

 

Mechanical and chemical recycling of plastics

We consider the recycling hierarchy of the European Waste Framework as not detailed enough. The Directive merely considers the recycling of material, while the possibilities for the further use of the recycled material is neglected. As a consequence, plastic resins with a considerably lower quality after recycling are favoured in the design phase.

You can find out more about this in our position paper on the mechanical and chemical recycling of plastics.

Plastic: Which strategy for which scenario?

Plastic is omnipresent in our daily lives. The recent Chinese import ban for plastic waste and the plastics strategy paper of the European Commission make clear that a rethinking process is necessary and has already been initiated in parts. But what could such strategies look like?

The article published on our partner website Fairplanet gives an overview of the most relevant plastics strategies (including phaseout, substitution, bio-plastics).

Paper products as valuable resources

Magazines, packaging, printing inks and office paper enrich our daily lives. But how beneficial are these products for humans and the environment? What about recyclability? The joint report by B.A.U.M. and EPEAin the frame of the Healthy Printing Initiative show how healthy printing products can be designed to bring recycling to a higher quality level and optimally utilise the valuable resource, paper.

You can learn more in the report on “How to design sustainable printing products” or in the Fairplanet article on toilet paper.

PVC und chlorine management

Worldwide, approximately 45 million tonnes of PVC are produced for various applications every year. PVC is problematic both during production, use and after the use of products and is therefore viewed critically by many, including us. In our opinion, chorine should only be used in PVC applications with a positively defined composition. In addition, such products must be properly managed within a take-back and recycling system.

You can learn more about this in our position paper.

The use of phosphorus

Phosphorus (P) is essential for life. Without phosphorus in its phosphate form, there would be no bones, no DNA, not even food and its associated conversion into energy. Next to nitrogen and potassium, phosphorus is often the limiting factor for plant growth. Current environmental regulations restricting the use of sewage sludge and dung in agriculture should be questioned, as they also thereby restrict the agricultural access to the contained phosphorus.

You can learn more about this in our position papers.

Recycled does not always mean recyclable!

As a result of the environmental discussions about limited resources and the increasing pollution of our earth with waste , the objective of achieving the highest possible recycled content in products is becoming more and more prominent. As the chemical composition of the recycled materials used is often largely undefined, this objective should be questioned in the various certification systems as well as in people's mindsets. Instead of only starting to think about recycling after the service life of a product, a defined and necessary recyclability should be valued during material selection and product design.

Future: climate protection and composting

How can people be beneficial? Because we are too many people living on the earth simply to aim for solutions that are “less bad”.

The EPEA study strives to answer the following questions: How can we as humans be beneficial for nature – like bees and ants? How can our positive ecological footprint be big – as we are all important?

With the Cradle to Cradle® design principles we will be able to succeed in achieving this in the long term. However, only if we start transforming all our economic activities here and now.

You can learn more on this in our study.