Düsseldorf, Germany — Time is running out for companies to meet their 2025 recycled-content goals. And not everyone is going to make it.
But for those who do, collaboration along the entire plastics recycling value chain will be a key component to success, the folks at Baerlocher GmbH believe.
The additives company sees success in a world where companies throughout the recycling and processing segments work together and reject the idea of moving alone to keep company secrets close to the vest and away from competitors.
The entire industry needs to collaborate to not only meet stated goals by consumer packaged goods firms but also keep legitimacy with the public and regulators.
"If the industry is not collaborating, we're not going to be successful," said Edward Hall, president and CEO of Baerlocher's North American operations headquartered near Cincinnati.
Hall made the trip to K 2022 in Düsseldorf to help spread the message that collaboration will not only lead to overall industry success but also individual company success.
"The whole industry is going to have to collaborate to meet our objectives. If we don't do that, it's absolutely impossible," he said, to meet upcoming recycled-content goals tied to 2025 and 2030.
There's simply just not enough time at this point to go it alone, he believes. That means better collection, better processing, better packaging design, for example — all in a collaborative atmosphere.
Roberto Nunez is the director of sustainable additives working out of the company's U.S. offices, and he has a stark message: "The industry is in trouble right now. … The need for change has a time frame."
And that time frame is quickly coming to an end, he said about 2025 fast approaching.
Companies deciding to go it alone require more time and more energy to meet their environmental goals compared with those who decide to collaborate with others and share information that can move everybody along. Those who fail to joint together will pay for that in the end, he believes.
"Somebody is going to be left behind," Hall said. "You're putting yourself at a disadvantage."
Creating recycling solutions to meet company goals, societal expectations and governmental regulations is both a short-term and long-term play, Nunez said.
"We're sprinting right now," he said, toward 2025. "But it's a marathon" as well.
That's why Munich-based Baerlocher is putting so much emphasis on working with other firms all along plastics manufacturing and recycling to understand others' needs and explain what the company can do to help in success.
"We're not collaborating to be happy or hold hands or kumbaya, as much as I like that," Nunez said.
Collaboration, he said, will spur success across the board and help Baerlocher sell products and make money. This is, after all, a business that is in business.
"We're here to make money. We're here to be successful in this," Hall said.
And while the concept of collaboration is universal in Baerlocher's eyes, the actual implementation of the approach boils down to custom work between companies to find solutions that meet specific scenarios.
Plastics recycling and product manufacturing has so many variables from resin type to cycle times to ultimate product performance that one size does not fit all, Nunez said.
Baerlocher has a family of stabilizers under the firm's Baeropol T-Blends line of business designed to address performance and processing issues with both post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.
With company 2025 and 2030 recycled-content goals looming, Hall believes there is no time to waste when it comes to collaboration. "This is not going to be years long to solve the problem. It's going to happen quickly," he said.