Recycling, Circular Economy

For Greiner, the future lies in the circular economy

14/03/2024 | 4 min read
Jörg Sabo

For plastics and foam company Greiner, the future lies in the circular economy. Greiner's vision in this area does not just include recycling but also developing re-usable products and generally conserving resources along the entire value chain.

The circular economy is the opposite of a throw-away society. It does not see waste as garbage but as a valuable raw material. This is where our future lies. This is why circular business models are also a central pillar of the Group-wide corporate strategy that has been devised for the period up to 2028.

Manfred Stanek, member of the Executive Board of Greiner AG

A key theme here is "Design For Recycling," a guideline for product development. Products are designed and produced so that, ideally, they are 100% recyclable. This involves looking at how products have to be designed so that they can be collected, separated and, finally, recycled as easily as possible.

We want to drastically reduce our emissions and be a fully circular business by 2030. The production of packaging made from r-PET generates significantly fewer CO2 emissions than when new PET is used. So, the circular economy also offers enormous opportunities to achieve our climate targets.

Stefan Grafenhorst, Vice President of People & Sustainability at Greiner AG and
a member of the Austrian federal government's circular economy task force

Subsidiary Greiner Recycling produces its own r-PET flakes

Greiner is already working directly with recycling plants and other companies along the value chain to better close the loop. Greiner Packaging reached a milestone one and half years ago when it purchased the first recycling plant of its own in Serbia. The r-PET flakes produced there are reused in the manufacture of new food packaging, among other things. The entry into the recyclables business has helped Greiner place an even heavier focus on cycles.

For more on Greiner Recycling, see the interview with Peter Fessl, Director of Operations Recycling at Greiner Packaging.

In line with the Group-wide "Blue Plan" sustainability strategy, Greiner is not afraid to blaze its own trail and pursue completely new approaches. For example, Greiner Innoventures, Greiner's start-up hub, is constantly on the lookout for innovative ideas for circular business models. Strategic partnerships also play a major role for Greiner when it comes to the circular economy.

Many circular projects with partner companies

The NEVEON foam division, for example, is a founding member of the recently initiated Austrian Mattress Alliance, which is focusing on "circular mattresses." In addition, NEVEON launched a partner project with BASF back in 2021 to close the cycle for mattresses through chemical recycling. The project has succeeded in returning discarded mattresses to the materials cycle and producing new, high-quality mattresses from recycled materials.

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In the state of Upper Austria, Greiner Packaging is collaborating with local farmers that produce milk for schools and two other companies (Starlinger viscotec and PET-MAN) in a joint project in which the school milk is packaged in cups made of r-PET. This cooperation model along the regional value chain has al-ready been awarded the TRIGOS sustainability prize.

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In addition, the idea of reuse is playing an increasingly important role in products. Here, Greiner Packaging is producing reusable drinking cups that can be used at concerts, for example, and then remain in the cycle thanks to a deposit system.

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