Environmentally friendly plastic recycling: The Swiss technology company enespa ag, provider of a unique recycling loop solution, calls for a uniform plastic collection system

15 March 2023

The Global Recycling Day on March 18 focuses on the global handling of plastic waste, which is anything but exemplary, especially in Switzerland. 80% of plastic waste is still incinerated, so the CO2 pollution is correspondingly high. There is no lack of technology to recycle plastic waste in an environmentally friendly way. According to enespa ag, the problem is the inadequate collection system in Switzerland: The provider of a globally unique and sustainable recycling process is demanding a change in the law.

With Global Recycling Day, the Global Recycling Foundation reminds of the important role that recycling plays in the fight against global warming. Recycling already saves 700 million tons of CO2 per year, and by 2030 savings of up to 1,000 million tons of CO2 are expected. Switzerland makes an important contribution to this in many areas – the big exception, however, is the use of plastic.

According to the Federal Office for the Environment, around one million tonnes of plastic are used in Switzerland every year: a quarter goes into durable products, the rest becomes plastic waste after a single use. Only a fraction of this waste is recycled, around 80% ends up in waste incineration plants. There they cause high CO2 emissions, because the combustion of 1 kg of plastic causes CO2 emissions of 3 kg.

Worldwide unique and efficient plastic recycling process

For Cyrill Hugi , CEO of enespa ag, a developer of green recycling technologies, this is an intolerable situation. "The fact that the majority of plastic waste in Switzerland is incinerated is not only harmful to the environment, but also unnecessary," says Hugi. “With the thermolysis process we have developed, we can process waste plastic into high-quality product oil. This in turn can be used to produce plastics.” The Swiss company's process is highly efficient and unique in the world: around 1000 liters of product oil are obtained from one ton of plastic waste, and up to 85 percent of the chemical energy of the plastic waste is retained thanks to the thermolysis process.

The gas produced during the condensation process is also reused. "We use this to generate energy that we use to operate our systems," says Hugi. What also distinguishes the technology from enespa ag is the high quality of the sorting machines. It makes it possible to receive and recycle mixed plastic waste. enespa is the only company in the world that uses chemical recycling economically. According to Hugi, the fact that there are still no corresponding systems in Switzerland is not due to economic reasons, but to the legal situation.

Rapid change in the law required - acceptance of the circular initiative

"In the current situation, a plastic recycling plant is not worthwhile. Although there are many recycling companies in Switzerland that offer plastic collection bags for a fee, they are organized on a cantonal basis and are therefore quite small. With this volume, our systems cannot be operated economically,” says Hugi. A nationwide, uniform regulation for the collection of plastic is needed.

A more sustainable way of dealing with waste, especially with plastic, is also increasingly an issue in politics. In Zurich, the circular initiative was accepted with 89% in 2022, and a parliamentary initiative to promote the circular economy is pending at national level. “These are encouraging signs, but it may take time for these initiatives to have an impact in practice. We need faster solutions», demands Hugi.

Plastic recycling in Germany

The example of Germany shows that changes in the waste system can lead to success. “A collection bag for plastic and packaging that is free of charge for consumers, such as that given to households in Germany, is a step in the right direction. In addition, there should be locations in the vicinity of the recycling centers that are equipped with our plastic-to-oil systems. With this we can take a step towards overcoming our enormous plastic problem,” says Hugi. Distributing bags alone is not enough. In order for these to be used consistently and correctly, awareness of the collection of plastic waste must take place at the same time. Three major projects with plastic-to-oil plants are currently planned in Germany, which will go into operation in 2023.

More information on enespa's thermolysis process can be found here .

About enespa ag                

As a global "first mover" in the processing and recycling of mixed plastic waste, enespa ag develops, builds and operates economical, industrial and sustainable recycling systems. In addition to activities in industrial oil refinement, the 50-strong green tech company is researching other energy-efficient technologies such as hydrogen production. enespa ag, domiciled in Appenzell, Switzerland , with several production sites in Germany, contributes through innovation and research to the fact that the implemented circular economy has a positive and ecological effect. More information at www.enespa.eu

Contact enespa ag
Dominik Widmer , E-Mail d.widmer@enespa.ch Tel. +41 71 788 33 88

Contact media inquiries
Brigitte Kaps for enespa ag mail@rentapr.ch   Tel. +41 79 289 2042

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