Table of contents:
- Recycling starts with product planning
- Implement recycling or raw material recycling
- What is material and raw material recycling?
- Circular added value saves raw material costs by 25 percent
- Consumers are also in demand
- Substitution quotas could help
Video: Recycling Starts With Product Planning
2023 Author: Hannah Pearcy | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 11:39
The mountains of garbage are growing, primary raw materials are decreasing and becoming increasingly difficult to mine. One way out is to recycle the raw materials, the so-called circular added value. According to the VDI, the responsibility to better enable this recycling also lies with engineers. The association has now drawn up a recommendation for action.
Recycling starts with product planning
Better recycling of raw materials should not only be considered at the end of a product's life. The rethinking begins with product development and use. "Products have to be designed in such a way that they can be economically and ecologically separated into their material components again after their use," says Prof. Heinz F. Voggenreiter, Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board at the VDI.
In addition, there is a need for suitable infrastructures and business models, by means of which these substances are collected, sorted according to type or by fractions and made available to the manufacturing companies again as raw materials.
Implement recycling or raw material recycling
The VDI demands that products be designed in such a way that they meet both the requirements of use, but also the disassembly into their components and the separation into recyclable material fractions. At the end of a product's life, it should be returned to the material cycle as simply as possible. A rethink is necessary: If material use is not efficient, raw material recycling should take place.
The VDI defines a product that is largely recyclable, as follows: It
- contains material-recyclable components,
- consists of durable materials,
- contains detachable fasteners,
- allows easy disassembly and interchangeability of its components,
- consists of as few different materials as possible and
- is provided with standardized component components if possible.
The advantages of the circular economy
Recycling is particularly problematic with composite materials, as they can generally not be efficiently recycled. Here is the feedstock recycling necessary, which is already established in some raw materials such as ferrous metals, aluminum and copper. In contrast, there is still a great need for development in the case of mixed plastics and other wastes that arise as complex mixtures.
The paradox is that complex composite materials are used primarily in climate-friendly lightweight construction. According to the VDI, it is crucial here whether the product as a whole is beneficial for the climate and the environment in its life cycle and whether valuable resources can be efficiently recovered through raw material recycling.
What is material and raw material recycling?
The material recycling is a multistep process (sorting, shredding, cleaning, drying, re-granulation), in which the polymeric structure of the plastic is not only slightly influenced or.
If material recycling is not possible, raw material recycling remains, which breaks down the polymer structure into monomeric building blocks. These are then rebuilt into a polymer by a synthesis process.
Circular added value saves raw material costs by 25 percent
In Germany, according to a Kienbaum study, in the mobility, food and housing sectors alone, circular added value could reduce the cost of raw material consumption by up to 25 percent and generate an additional growth effect of up to 12 percent by 2050.
Consumers are also in demand
The consumer must also be informed how their own behavior can contribute to circular added value, according to the VDI. Easy labeling of products can also help to identify which products can be recycled well.
The authors of the publication recommend an additional waste bin that can be used to collect batteries and electrical devices. In this way, the disposal of electronic waste in the black bin can be effectively prevented.
Substitution quotas could help
With regard to politics, the authors see the setting of concrete substitution quotas as an effective tool for promoting circular value creation. The substitution rate is defined as the ratio of the recycling raw materials used to the total raw materials used. This quota could be implemented nationally, sectorally or at the product level. By developing roadmaps, politicians should set binding economic targets, promote networks, set up support programs and create targeted financial relief for sustainable business.
VDI publication "Circular Value Creation"
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