ISO: Rethinking the future of plastics
February 16, 2023

ISO: Rethinking the future of plastics

On 2 March, at the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya, senior representatives from 175 countries backed a ground-breaking resolution to stop plastic pollution. This will result in a legally binding, international agreement by the end of 2024, aiming to make all plastics sustainable.

Calls for a more circular plastics economy, for instance, include proposals for improved standards on issues ranging from recyclability and recycled content of plastics to biodegradability and reusability. Achim Ilzhöfer, the Global Circular Economy Manager for Covestro AG and Chair of the group of standards developers in ISO responsible for the environmental aspects of plastics can point to numerous ISO standards that have fostered sustainability in plastics. ISO 15270:2008, Plastics – Guidelines for the recovery and recycling of plastics waste, is one example. This standard sets the framework for the development of further standards and specifications on plastics waste recovery, including recycling – a way to close the loop,” he explains.

Ilzhöfer and his peers within ISO working groups also aim to develop further standards to catalyse sustainable plastics development and use. To increase recycling rates, we need to improve the collection and separation of plastics, and hence the identification of plastics in products arriving on the waste markets,” describes Ilzhöfer.  

Standards in the area of design for recycling, track-and-trace solutions and waste management are the basis for an ecologically and economically viable recycling phase. Additionally, Ilzhöfer is also certain that the standardization of waste-based feedstocks for different recycling technologies will immediately support the global market development for increasing the rate of recycling.

“Since the first recovery and recycling standard in 2008, new, more efficient chemical recycling processes have been developed. From here onwards, further standardization will support the global implementation of recycling facilities to increase the recycling rate of plastics,” he concludes.

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