The average Upper Austrian creates 34 kilograms of packaging waste per person per year. 20 kilograms of this go into the yellow bin. The rest ends up in residual waste, is burned unsorted and is lost as raw material. However, many people are unsure what happens to the plastic waste in the yellow bin (in Vöcklabruck: yellow bag). “Everything will be burned anyway” is one of the most common pieces of false information that waste consultants from the District Waste Association (BAV) in the Gmunden district are confronted with.
The fact is: the yellow bin is at the beginning of a recycling process. After collection, the contents of the yellow bin are taken to a sorting facility. Non-plastic waste is sorted out there and the different types of plastic are separated using infrared technology. This separation works mostly automatically, but partly also manually.
All materials that are suitable for reuse are pressed into bales according to type and taken to processing companies. There they are shredded, washed, melted, processed into granules and returned to the cycle as new raw materials. Contaminants and those materials that cannot be separated according to type are used as substitute fuels (instead of natural gas or petroleum) in industry.
Currently, around 30 percent of plastic packaging waste can be recycled. “This proportion has potential for improvement,” says Stefanie Holy from BAV Gmunden. “Products could be made more recyclable through better design.” Modern sorting systems can also increase the quality of materials for recycling. Such a state-of-the-art facility is currently being built in Ennshafen, Upper Austria.
According to BAV Gmunden, it is primarily up to consumers to avoid plastic packaging and thus plastic waste.
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