Magazine: ‘A waste-free economy is still a long way away’

By: Tisza Andrea Date: 2019. 11. 21. 07:47

Miklós Nagy, secretary general of the Hungarian Association of Packaging and Materials Handling (CSAOSZ) talked to our magazine about changing trends and the efforts to improve waste utilisation technologies. In his view this development work is speeding up. Many people have high hopes about chemical recycling.

Nagy Miklós

In comparison with 2017, CSAOSZ recorded a 9-percent sales increase in 2018 with a turnover of HUF 628 billion. This sum represents 1.6 percent of the country’s GDP. The two leading packaging materials are paper and plastic. In terms of value, paper packaging sales were worth HUF 235 billion last year, while plastic produced a value of HUF 243 billion. These two packaging materials were responsible for 76 percent of the total turnover.

Mr Nagy opines that a ‘zero waste’ economy is still a utopian idea and the situation will stay so for quite a while. The secretary general thinks that there will always be products that leave a trace of their material in the packaging, making it impossible to recycle it. From the petroleum extracted at world level, 80 percent is used in heating and transportation and only 4-6 percent are utilised in plastic production – from the latter 40 percent is plastic packaging. These numbers show that burning the plastic packaging that isn’t recycled to produce energy wouldn’t make a big difference.

In the last few years plastic has become something like a swear word. CSAOSZ’s secretary general made it clear that this attitude indicates how little people know about material use. For instance it would be impossible to fly from London to Sydney without stopping en route if plastics weren’t used in planes. Miklós Nagy reckons that there is no alternative to plastic use yet. In connection with the spreading of compostable plastic use, he told that these materials are beneficial from a CO2 emission perspective, but it requires an industrial environment and controlled technology to get rid of them – not to mention the large quantity that can make the whole process economical.

Per capita packaging material use in Hungary is approximately 100kg/year; in the European Union this rate is 168kg/year. This year three major investment projects were announced in the Hungarian packaging industry, e.g. a multinational company will build a packaging plant in Debrecen, an Indian company will open a plastic wrap factory near Balassagyarmat. The circular economy is a topical issue nowadays, and Mr Nagy agrees that less packaging material should be produced, plus the generated packaging waste must be managed more effectively.

CSAOSZ organised the HUNGAROPACK Hungarian Packaging Competition for the 36th time this year. This time there were 58 competition entries submitted by 31 companies. As a reaction to the latest trends, some of the entries were degradable packaging solutions. The winners will represent Hungary in the international WorldStar competition of the World Packaging Organisation (WPO), where Hungarian packaging designs traditionally perform very well. //

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