3 min

Global Recycling Day — Towards a Sustainable Future

March 18th is Global Recycling Day, a special day that marks our universal awareness of recycling for a better earth. This is not just another day but one that serves as a powerful reminder for us all to continue taking action when it comes to recycling—no matter what. 

And the statistics are simply alarming and demonstrate that we still have a long way to go. According to Recycling Inside, only 9% of plastic is recycled globally. This means that 91% of plastic produced ends up in landfills or the environment. Globally, we may have become more aware of waste and the challenges of recycling, but what are we actually doing to mitigate environmental waste? 

Key figures at Kiwa who are at the forefront of such questions, Mara del Grosso, Linda Doekes-Boogaard, Giordano Marini, and Jose Zaragoza, tell us more about our company’s contributions to the global recycling landscape.  

A Future of Certifying Recycled Content Worldwide

With a commitment to diverse recycling streams such as plastics, e-waste, textiles, metals, and old paper, our company prioritizes compliance with international standards to advocate for responsible recycling practices.

Mara del Grosso and Giordano Marini, who oversee Kiwa's Plastic Recycling Service Lines in the Netherlands and Italy, tell us more about these services: “Kiwa offers various recycling-focused services worldwide, such as Recyclass and PSV, which assist companies in certifying the recycled content in their products. We also participate in the Technical Committee of Polycert Europe to standardize certification schemes for using circular raw materials in polymer conversion across Europe, promoting sustainable practices and shared responsibility among companies, public administrations, and citizens. In addition, we have developed complementary certification schemes to assess the recycled content and reusability of certain types of products.”

Tackling E-Waste Together

Linda Doekes-Boogaard, who spearheads initiatives encompassing e-waste, textiles, metals, and old paper, tells us what Kiwa does to actively address the issue of e-waste specifically: “We closely monitor policy developments and provide feedback when we believe certain policies are impractical, explaining our reasoning. During our interactions with client companies, we discuss e-waste challenges to stay informed about market dynamics. Additionally, if we observe companies engaging in e-waste dismantling, we suggest they obtain a WEEELABEX certificate, which focuses on dismantling electronics for reuse. We also ensure that companies handling e-waste comply with relevant policies. Additionally, twice a year, we convene harmonization meetings with auditors to discuss observations made at client companies and review and adapt to new policies and documents to remain current.”

“We deem it crucial to work together, and we maintain close relationships with industry organizations in the paper, textile, and metal sectors, who inform us about new standards,” furthers Linda. “We stay updated on recycling news and international regulations through various sources to ensure we have comprehensive information for our work.”

Audits for a Better World

As a company, we ensure the quality and reliability of recycling electronics and textiles, for instance, meeting market standards and consumer expectations. Compliance with laws and regulations is integral to our audits and further our sustainable actions. We conduct comprehensive audits at recycling plants to assess management practices, adhering to standards such as WEEELABEX for electronics and UPV for textiles in the Netherlands.

Jose Zaragoza, Technical Manager at Kiwa Spain, states, “Kiwa verifies proper management of recycled plastics and adherence to legislation, including non-reusable scrap laws, while guiding businesses in adopting sustainable practices. We also oversee measures to minimize pellet loss through schemes like Operation Clean Sweep certification and ensure compliance with regulations through thorough audits, including Recyclass assessments, promoting a circular economy from waste to finished products.”

Promoting Advances in Plastic Technology

Advances in plastic technology and recycling have also made great strides and are pushing our sustainability efforts in the right direction. We collaborate with industry partners to promote sustainable plastic recycling and certify products to meet market standards, offering benefits such as tax incentives in Spain, Italy, and the UK. Moreover, Kiwa Spain has actively contributed to certification schemes like KiPlas-C and KiPlas-T, which were developed in collaboration with leading plastic technology institutes and manufacturers' associations, facilitating compliance with legislation and tax reductions for recycled materials.



Making a Difference Starts at Home

There is a lot we can do as a company. But we also need to consider what we can do as individuals at home,” advises Mara. Before resorting to recycling, it's best to follow the principles of Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, and Rot (for organic waste), known as the five R's. Recycling prevents valuable resources from ending up in landfills or incinerators by returning them to their raw materials.”

Instead of throwing away damaged clothes in the general waste, we should place them in designated containers for old clothes,” adds Linda. “This ensures they are recycled rather than incinerated. Similarly, we should separate electronic waste and take it to appropriate collection points. It's important to dispose of batteries separately, too. Investing in higher-quality clothing may seem more expensive initially, but it lasts longer and reduces waste. We must all think about the next generation. By adopting these practices, we normalize sustainable behavior for our children, ensuring they grow up with environmentally conscious habits.”

Linda also believes there is a need for clearer explanations regarding certain waste streams for the public and that this will significantly help the general public to make better recycling decisions: “Understanding the proper disposal of materials is crucial. Removing batteries from products prevents fires, and clean, dry paper ensures effective recycling. Embracing the 'End of Waste' concept for metals turns waste into valuable resources. When people know how to dispose of waste correctly, they're more likely to follow proper procedures.”

Stepping Up To The Plate

“As a company, we are constantly adapting our services to meet the challenges posed by the European Green Deal and subsequent directives on plastic recycling,” states Mara. “We are expanding our global plastic recycling services to assist companies in meeting these new criteria. To ensure sustainability, we train auditors worldwide to assess companies locally, considering European targets and national differences. Meeting the evolving demands of the sector requires a skilled team with global and national expertise to provide tailored solutions.”

Mara concludes: “Global Recycling Day reminds us to be mindful of our daily choices and their impact on the health of our planet. It encourages individuals and companies to adopt responsible consumption practices and reduce waste. Seemingly small changes can have a big impact.”