German high-tech polymer manufacturer Covestro plans to focus on the circular economy and be a creative force for the entire plastics industry.
The company aims to use raw materials from sustainable sources such as waste, plants and CO2 as much as possible in production. The goal is a departure from fossil resources such as crude oil.
Speaking at the world's largest plastics trade fair, K 2019 in Duesseldorf, Covestro chief executive Markus Steilemann insisted that used plastics must be recycled systematically and to the greatest possible extent.
"The great challenges of our time, such as climate change and the rising consumption of resources by the growing world population, make truly sustainable ways of living and economies an indispensable necessity. The linear patterns in consumption and production based on one-time use have become obsolete -- we must rather strengthen the idea of recycling and consistently align our actions accordingly," he said.
Mr Steilemann said the plastics industry in particular can and must drive the change to achieve a circular economy.
"Our company wants to be a pioneer in this process, for the benefit of the environment and society," he said.
Covestro recently started using alternative raw materials instead of crude oil in production, among other changes to adhere to the circular economy model.
The company also designs plastics from the outset so they can be effectively recycled. Plastic products must last as long as possible and waste should be avoided, said Mr Steilemann.
"Society, but also industry, must produce less waste. Above all, waste has to be disposed of systematically and must no longer end up uncontrolled in the environment," he said. "Plastic waste in our oceans is essentially the result of inadequate waste management. Plastic in itself is not the problem and should not be prohibited. On the contrary, high-quality plastics are a problem solver and are urgently needed -- for renewable energies, new forms of mobility and sustainable construction, for instance."
To stop the flow of plastic waste into bodies of water, Covestro is participating in the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, a worldwide company network that has been active since early 2019. In the new Circular Plastics Alliance, the company is also working with numerous other businesses and organisations to promote the recycling of plastics in Europe.
Covestro is among the world's largest polymer companies, with 2018 sales of €14.6 billion.