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Closing a recycling loop in Germany

DUAL Recycling service is a sustainable closed loop approach to recycling in Germany that demonstrates our end-to-end sustainability commitment.

“For most companies it is a burden to collect and responsibly dispose of their own packaging. We saw it as an opportunity to achieve our sustainability goals, as well as to close our gap in raw material supplies,” says Henri Vermeulen VP of Smurfit Kappa’s European Recycling operations.

In 2019, as part of Germany's commitment to the European Green Deal, they made producers legally responsible for their own packaging waste. Henri’s team saw this as an opportunity to close an open loop where other suppliers saw a problem.

The team developed the DUAL Recycling service, using our sustainable closed loop approach to become an even more convenient supplier for our customers. They buy packaging from us, use it, return it, and we convert it back into a valuable raw material: recycled paper fibre. This not only makes life easier for our customers, it forms part of our end-to-end sustainability commitment.

“In fact,” says Henri, “it helps solve the imbalance we have in Germany in supply and demand for recovered paper: currently in Germany around 15 million tonnes of recovered paper is collected, but 17.4 tonnes are needed. The new law helps us close this gap.”

No other packaging supplier in Germany is able to do this. Our product is eminently recyclable, and our end-of-life product stewardship goals mean we have available capacity for collection and recycling. Since we use the collected product, customer fees are low, and the paper is recycled in German paper mills. This cuts down on transport miles, helping achieve our ultimate Net Zero emissions goal.

However, even with our tremendous advantages there are still challenges to overcome. 

“It’s now that our work really begins,” says Henri, “we have to negotiate a licence to do this with all the regional authorities. But it helps that we’re poised and ready to do it. Meanwhile we’re assisting other producers with their DUAL schemes, as it helps everyone to use scarce natural resources efficiently and keep the valuable paper fibre in a sustainable closed-loop.”

Recycling Duel 

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