Turning waste to landfill generated by the packaging industry into raw materials of inherent value
The world has a waste problem. In the previous century, the world population grew substantially. At the same time, the world was changed by urbanisation, industrialisation and increased levels of affluence. Consequently, waste production has increased tenfold and landfill sites are closing more quickly than previously expected. The human population generates about 1.3 billion tonnes of waste per year, and this can lead to environmental tragedies like ocean plastic pollution and geopolitical tensions as Western countries seek new places to dispose of their waste. Globally, US$205 billion was spent in 2010 on waste related challenges, and this figure could rise to an estimated US$375 billion per year by 2025. It is furthermore estimated that the total generation of solid waste worldwide will have tripled by 2100.
The production of fibre and plastic-based packaging generates high amounts of waste, which currently, cannot be fully recycled/reused. A portion of it is still sent to landfill. Governments first introduced measures on the management of packaging waste in the early 1980s and set rules for production, marketing, use, and recycling. Over the years, targets for recovery and recycling of packaging waste have been set.
Waste from plastic-based packaging material is an increasing problem with negative impact on our environment (eg marine debris), society, human health and the global economy. Responsible consumption and production are key elements in finding a solution to this challenge, but there are further initiatives required for a sustainable solution.
As one of the biggest packaging companies globally, Mondi generates about 1.1 million tonnes of production waste annually. Mondi has set challenging commitments to reduce its waste, particularly waste sent to landfill (e.g. ash and residues from the recycled pulp process). Nevertheless, about 200,000 tonnes of waste is still sent to landfill annually. In line with the principles of a circular economy, Mondi is looking for alternative routes to re-introduce those currently landfilled waste streams into the value chain.
The project does not need to be limited to production waste from Mondi’s operations - it may also include general packaging waste that is being landfilled or incinerated and hence lost for further reuse/recycling.
Mondi is proud to support the Lead 2030 Challenge for SDG 12. The Challenge seeks solutions that address necessary changes (social, technological, economic, political, infrastructural, consumer behaviour and others) required to avoid waste to be landfilled.
This requires not only an adaptation of processes, raw material selection/preparation and waste collection/sorting, but also the cooperation on all levels involved, including government, industry, retail, end consumer. The project is working towards a zero waste future with currently landfilled or incinerated waste being reintroduced into the value chain, preferably as a secondary raw material.
- Find alternative solutions for waste streams from the packaging industry or after-use of packaging material to avoid landfilling
- Investigate decision structures and propose mechanisms with no obstacles (including legal) for successful implementation of the project
- Demonstrate how current retail, collection, sorting and recycling infrastructure shall be adapted to generate raw materials of inherent value
- Demonstrate how consumers can be incentivised and encouraged to improve sorting and collection of packaging waste
- Demonstrate how cross-industry collaboration can make reuse/recycling mechanisms efficient and widely used
The winning solution will receive
- A $50,000 grant from Mondi
- 12 months of mentorship from a team of Mondi employees and partners. The mentorship team will work to accelerate your solution by assisting with aspects such as:
- Business strategy
- Best practices for data collection
- Monitoring and evaluation
- Product design