The use of recycled plastics is assessed as one of the core elements for a functioning circular economy, effective climate protection and the achievement of the (especially ecological) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.
The European Commission has placed an emphasis on maximizing the share of recycled materials, and not just with the publication of its New Circular Economy Action Plan, as one component of the European Green Deal. As a global framework, the SDGs summarize the most important challenges of sustainable development and experience a great support from governments and organizations of all kinds. In the context of the SDGs, goal 12 "Sustainable Consumption and Production" in particular appears relevant for the developments towards an increased use of recycled plastics.
The guideline developed in the ZVEI SDGs & Sustainability Task Force is to be understood as an aid for approaching the topic of plastic recyclates. This paper discusses current challenges posed by increased use of plastic recyclates and examines the environmental, economic and social sustainability of their use in electrical products. It also highlights what companies should look for when addressing the issue of plastic recyclates in practice.
In terms of achieving the SDGs, the guideline notes that the use of plastic recyclates in the electrical industry can make some contributions. For the goals 7 (especially in the context of energy-efficient technologies), 8 (value creation, jobs), 9 (innovation, research), 12 (resource efficiency) and 17 (partnerships), a high leverage effect is possible through various measures. However, potential conflicts of objectives must also be taken into account, such as the partly unknown environmental / climate balance of recyclates currently available on the market. Therefore, a holistic assessment is always recommended.
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