In our interview with K-MAG, Huafeng Zhao talks about how the R-Cycle system is going to achieve the zero-waste target in the future circular economy.
Mr. Zhao, you are part of the R-Cycle initiative. What goals are being pursued there?
Huafeng Zhao: R-Cycle enables high-quality plastics recycling by identifying recyclable packaging as such and then separating it. In the past, we didn’t have a proper data management system like R-Cycle to support the plastic circular economy. Therefore, about 19 percent of plastic waste worldwide go into incineration, 50 percent ends up in landfills, and even 22 percent has been found directly in our environment. Only about 9 percent is recycled und reused for second-life product. For us, plastic is the new gold, we must help to educate the people to understand the values behind plastic products and also to understand how we should treat plastic in a right way.
How can this goal be achieved?
Zhao: We are working on an open and globally applicable tracing standard to ensure the traceability of recyclable packaging along the entire value chain. All recycling-relevant information – like material type, color, MFR, food or non-food, PCR/PIR content and so on – can be recorded by the machine control system during the production and transferred all these information in the form of the digital product passport. The tracing technology behind R-Cycle is based on GS1 standards. It is accessible to any production facility, from plastic film injection molding or extrusion blow molding machines through to converting, printing, filling, sorting and recycling machines. To retrieve the stored information, a marker – for example a QR or digital watermark code – is applied to the packaging. At the end, R-Cycle will improve the efficiency of the entire value chain, so that we will get more and more high qualified recycling materials in the future and ensure the traceability of plastic packaging along their whole life cycle.