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Published on May 7, 2010
Plastics have changed the world, and they continue to do so but the innovative potential of plastics is far from exhausted.
Plastics are eco-efficient in many ways. For example, they efficiently insulate buildings, they provide light-weight and safe packaging, they reduce the weight of cars and make them quieter; and they help us to harness the sun and wind as energy sources. But at some point, every product comes to the end of its useful life. Energy recovery is the incineration of plastic waste, while simultaneously using the energy for generating electricity or steam or for providing process heat. Energy recovery is particularly suitable for mixed or contaminated fractions of plastic waste.
The high calorific value of plastics is actually similar to that of fuel oil. Therefore, plastics can partly substitute fuel oil as primary raw material, immediately conserving primary resources.
In the early years of the European Packaging Directive entering into force, the primary goal of the plastics industry was its contribution to ensuring the recovery of used plastics and creating the necessary recovery capacities. Today's goal is eco-efficiency, which means recovery that is efficient both in ecological and economic terms.