Thinking about the future of plastics in Australia's circular economy

What is the future of plastics in Australia? And how can Australian plastics manufacturers and engineers best navigate the issues of responsible waste management and environmental sustainability? On November 15 2018, these issues took centre stage at The Australian Society of Plastic’s Engineers annual conference in Melbourne.

The conference, which aimed to address the future of plastics in a circular economy, cemented two major themes. Firstly, the Australian Government is truly on board in its support of Product Stewardship as a driver for solutions, and secondly there is a need to find realistic circular economy solutions within the overall supply chain.

As a global plastics manufacturer, Covestro has both a sustained interest and corporate responsibility to contribute to thought leadership in this space. In 2015 we committed to upholding the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and we’ve been actively researching, creating and promoting initiatives which support our ‘People, Planet, Profit’ agenda ever since.

One way that we do this is through strongly supporting Australian product stewardship initiatives such as Paint Back, and Soft Landing, which aim to keep unwanted paint and mattress products out of landfill.

As part of Covestro’s commitment to ensuring a circular economy around plastics, we’ve also done a great deal of work and research around creating products which help to close the loop on resource and energy wastage. In addition to contributing to initiatives which support sustainable end-of-life solutions, we’ve also invested significant time and talent into creating ‘start-of-life’ alternatives which further reduce energy wastage and minimise environmental impact at the point of production.

The future of plastics in Australia - Covestro

In discussing this topic, Covestro Australia’s Managing Director, Rebecca recently outlined the sustainability benefits of our cardyon® product as one such ‘start-of-life’ product. Made from up to 20% carbon dioxide, the product is an excellent example of how manufacturers can look at using alternative and sustainable raw materials while reducing their reliance on fossil fuels.

“By partly substituting oil-based raw materials with carbon dioxide, we’ve been able to demonstrate that plastic products can be made from carbon dioxide. This helps us to close the carbon loop by brining carbon dioxide back into the value chain. It also reduces the use of scarce fossil resources such as crude oil, which helps to ease the pressure on our plant’s resources” she said.

As part of our ongoing commitment to sustainability, the Covestro team will continue to support product stewardship initiatives and manufacturing processes that help us to create a future in which plastic manufacturing becomes smarter, more agile and more sustainable.