III Conference on Plastics, Recycling and Sustainability

November 14th 2016

Inaugurated by Julià Àlvaro, Regional Secretary for the Environment and Climate Change of the Generalitat Valenciana, and the presidents of AIMPLAS (José Luis Yusá) and Cicloplast (Marcelo Miranda), the 3rd edition of the Conference-Debate on Plastics, Recycling and Sustainability, organized by AIMPLAS y Cycloplast brought together leading national and international experts in plastic recycling and sustainability.

Every Valencian recycles in all plastic applications almost twice as much as the rest of the Spanish (28 kg / inhab compared to 15kg / inhab.). Specifically, the Valencian Community accumulates 19% of the total recycling of plastics in Spain (733.000 tons) and brings together 23% of the recycling companies (114 entities), according to data from the annual reports carried out by Cicloplast.

Pierre Henry, from the Directorate General for the Environment of the European Commission, highlighted the role of plastics as a priority area in the new Circular Economy and spoke of a “new plastics industry”. According to Henry, "plastics should be considered a very valuable resource that cannot be diverted to landfills." Improving recyclability from the design of products, reuse and recycle thanks to R + D + i, as well as legislation that supports it, and raise awareness among users, are some of the keys pointed out yesterday by the representative of the European Commission .

After his intervention, four discussion tables addressed the major issues related to plastic recycling and its sustainability. In the first one, on Circular Economy and plastics, María José Delgado, from the Ministry of the Environment, explained that the main novelty of the State Waste Framework Plan consists of the territorialization of waste management at the regional level.

For her part, Teresa Martínez, General Director of Cicloplast assured: “There are limits to the recycling of plastics but also opportunities. To reach the 55% objective in 2025, it is essential to intensify the dialogue between the Public Administrations and the industrial sector, only in this way will it be possible to overcome the barriers and meet future challenges. We must continue to invest in research projects that provide eco-efficient, sustainable and high value-added solutions ”.

In the second table dedicated to the marine litter it was highlighted that although work is done from different areas to remove plastic waste from the sea, the key lies on the one hand in prevention and environmental education and on the other, in the joint work of all those involved because the responsibility is shared.

Another of the projects presented was that of Enrique Montero from the University of Cádiz: “Ecopuertos” consisting of the collection of waste from the sea by fishermen from Motril.

An initiative also in this field is the European Day for Cleaning Public Spaces "Let's Clean-Up Europe!" developed in 30 regions of Europe, including Catalonia, with the coordination of the Catalan Waste Agency, and in which some 500.000 volunteers participate who have collected 12.240 tons of waste between 2014 and 2016.

Design of sustainable products with recycled and recyclable plastic is the topic that was discussed in the third table. In this, Enrique Moliner, Researcher at the AIMPLAS Department of Sustainability and Industrial Valorisation, presented various environmental management tools that allow quantifying the environmental impacts of processes and products.

More and more industries are putting sustainable products on the market. Plásticos Romero is one of them. It is the first non-German company to be certified to produce recycled plastic bags under the Blue Angel ecolabel, essential to expand in northern Europe. PVC joinery is another example of a sustainable material due to its excellent thermal and acoustic insulation properties. Its recycling is "as old as its own invention" in 1931, recalled the ASOVEN association.

At the last table, on Innovative Initiatives to divert plastics from landfills, Eva Verdejo, responsible for Sustainability and Industrial Valorisation at AIMPLAS, presented a project - developed by this technology center and the Barpimo company - on chemical recycling. It consists of obtaining polyester resins and varnishes from complex PET waste that today has low recyclability. Complementary solution to other recovery processes such as mechanical recycling.

New technologies were also presented in the energy recovery of plastics, such as BluePlasmaPower, developed by a technological SME from Castellón that is used to obtain electricity and biofuel. In addition, technologies applied to mechanical recycling were seen, such as the one presented by ECOFRAG.

The day closed with the presentation of the company Zicla, which manufactures key elements for our cities, where recycled asphalt, precast concrete, bike lane dividers, gardening products or parts for cars are beginning to appear.

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