Plastics have become an indispensable component in our everyday lives. But the omnipresent use of plastics also causes waste management issues at an unprecedented scale. Quite often, plastics end up in landfills, incineration, or even worse, in our nature. Reusing, repurposing and reprocessing plastics over a recycling loop until the end of the material life cycle could reduce waste and keep valuable resources from the plastic waste within a “circle.”
On 25 October, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) presented three industry pilot projects under the EU-funded SwitchMed programme that, until end of 2023, will demonstrate how plastic waste from the agriculture and the packaging sector can be repurposed back into the resource cycle.
The presentation took place at the Israeli Resource Efficiency Center in Rehovot, with over 60 representatives from Israel’s plastic industry, government institutions and stakeholders from the plastic value chain taking part.
“Today, the environmental costs of plastics exceed their benefits, and we need to find ways to better design, use, and reuse plastics,” said Roberta De Palma, Chief Technical Advisor, UNIDO.
In Israel, too little plastic waste is recycled, and much is disposed of incorrectly and inefficiently. Under the SwitchMed/MED TEST III project, UNIDO has, together with the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, undertaken a mapping study of the plastic streams along the value chain and assessed the potential for synergies among local plastic industrials to increase the amount of plastic recyclate into various applications in Israel.
The waste mapping study indicated that the agriculture sector in Israel generates about 35,000 – 50,000 tons of plastic waste each year, while only about 7% is recycled.
Based on the waste mapping study, a pilot project will design and put into practice a small-scale system to recover used plastic films from the agricultural sector and convert them into recycled resins and products with recycled content.
In Israel, plastic packaging generates 200,000 tons of plastic waste each year. Two pilot projects will follow a two-fold approach to demonstrate business models that can reduce this amount and bring more plastics back into the loop. Pilot B will demonstrate how to convert existing plastic packaging applications into products with a recyclable design, while Pilot C will look into alternative solutions to recycle flexible packaging, which has the shortest life cycle of all packaging options available in Israel.
The pilots will collaborate with different actors along the plastic waste value chain, e.g., farmers, plastic converters, recyclers, logistic companies, regulators and business associations, to demonstrate innovative business models that can be upscaled in Israel and the region.
“Including actors along the plastics value chain can help create a better functioning market for plastic applications that can be reused and recycled.”
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