Citizens of the European Union generate over 25 million tons of plastic waste each year, but unfortunately less than 30% of it is recycled. Worldwide, plastic accounts for 85% of all the waste found on beaches. Plastic prevention strategies that have been drafted over the past years did lead to improvements, but for sustainably recovering our environment the new “Plastics Strategy Universalis 2021” has been published in Brussels today.
According to these plans, all plastic bags will be banned from the retail market in Europe, starting 2022! As a replacement, Europe is going to count on high-quality stainless steel that has a much higher recycling rate compared to plastics.
Steel is a unique material. It can be remelted an unlimited number of times which is why it’s also referred to as a “permanent material”. At the end of their lifecycle, steel products become scrap and thus a raw material for new products. This recycling economy provides the basic framework for a major reduction of plastic waste in the future. In the electric arc furnace at Breitenfeld Edelstahl AG, the largest in Austria, electricity is used to recycle scrap (steel).
“We’ve been involved in the European Commission’s Recycling Working Group from the very beginning and were able to take on an important role in shaping the new Europe-wide recycling strategy with our knowledge in the production of high-quality stainless steel products. We’re especially proud of the stainless steel shopping bags that we’ve developed and that will replace all plastic shopping bags in Europe starting 2022”, says Breitenfeld’s environmental manager.
The main goal is reducing the amount of microplastics while at the same time strengthening the recycling economy. Only with such profound measures can our environment be sustainably protected while strengthening the industry as the keystone of the economic system.