What is the terminological difference between recovery and recycling?
Waste is generated during the production and consumption of goods. The returning of this waste to the material cycle through reprocessing is called recycling. The term "material recovery" has the same meaning.
However, waste can also be "recovered" in other ways, e.g. by energy or thermal processing. In this process, the waste is gasified or burned and used to generate Energy.
What is better - recycling or recovery by burning the waste?
Recycling and energy recovery are not contradictory. The waste is used to extract what can be recycled and reprocessed into raw materials. Even with all the recycling, there is still waste that has to be used in other ways. Generating energy through combustion or gasification is therefore a useful way of utilizing it, because it saves the use of primary fuels such as coal, oil or gas.
What is the difference between post-industrial and post-consumer recyclate?
The standard DIN EN ISO 14021 serves as a basis for the definition of recycling material. According to specific criteria of this standard, plastic material can be labelled as so-called "recyclate" once it has been obtained from plastic waste "after its use as a consumer good" (post-consumer) or also as collected plastic waste from other branches of industry (post-industrial) and is used for new, different products.
A recycled PET bottle is a typical example of post-consumer recycling. Unmixed and unavoidable waste from branches of industry such as plastic packaging for components for further processing in medical engineering are an example of post-industrial recycling.
The products recovered through appropriate waste systems are processed for recycling using suitable processes (e.g. for injection moulding).
Material which is generated in the course of a technical manufacturing process by scrap components or sprues and reused by reprocessing or returning it in the same process is not considered as 'recyclate'. This waste can be avoided and its reuse is not to be called or labelled as Recycling.
Why is a distinction made at all between post-industrial and post-consumer recyclate?
According to the DIN EN ISO 14021 standard, both types of recycling are allowed to be called "recycling". Post-industrial recyclate is usually obtained from plastic waste of a pure type and colour, which was generated during the production process in the industry and was unavoidable. This can be used to manufacture new products with higher technical or optical requirements. The raw material purity of the recyclate is often significant and can have a massive influence on the product's target characteristics.
Post-consumer recyclate is produced from collected used and discarded products, packaging, films, etc. A major problem is the wide variety of different plastic types and colours, which often cannot be separated properly. This reduces the possibilities for the usage of new technically demanding products or their properties.
How much "recycling" must there be in a product made of recycled plastic?
There are no exact specifications for this. If, however, a statement is made about "recycling", the percentage of recycled material must be stated (according to DIN EN ISO 14021). There are certification bodies that independently check the percentage of recycled content. The DIN EN ISO 14021 standard also regulates the term "recycling" and separates genuine recycling from re-use in the process.
What is the difference between bio-based plastic and recycled plastic?
A biobased plastic comes from renewable resources such as sugar cane, corn or lactic acids from plant fermentation processes.
A recycled plastic, on the other hand, usually has a petrochemical origin and always a "first life". In other words, in their
first life, recycling products were already products or packaging materials before being sent into the waste disposal system for reprocessing into the recycled plastic granulates. By taking it back and processing it can be awakened to a "Second Life" and thus become a new product.
What makes more sense? The use of recycled or bio-based plastics?
Both are perfectly reasonable. The two ways of conserving resources must not be put in competition, because each of them is legitimate. The choice of the material depends strongly on the requirements of the resulting product. Products made of bio-based plastic and thus renewable resources can also be recycled in the end. Furthermore, infinite recycling is not possible because the quality of the plastic decreases after each recycling.
Can recycled plastic products be recycled a second time?
There is no general answer to this question. The loss of quality caused by recycling and the further loss of quality to be expected from repeated recycling are the decision criteria.
Is recycled plastic cheaper than new material?
Not for our purposes. Because our maxim is to use recyclates that are of high quality and tested for harmful substances, we have to select specially suitable recyclates from certified sources. Recycled plastics require preparation processes and are therefore not cheaper than new material. To avoid as much waste as possible or even not to generate it at all reflects our philosophy and is a matter we hold close to our heart. That's why we use recycled plastic out of conviction and offer it to our customers at no extra cost.
Are there any standards for recycling?
Yes, there is the DIN EN ISO 14021, which links clear regulations to the term "recycling". It also describes what constitutes "genuine recycling" and what may and may not be classified as such. For example, the re-introduction of sprues from the injection moulding which are shredded and returned to production process, may not be called recycling. Unfortunately, we observe again and again that in the advertising statements of other manufacturers this issue is not correctly represented.
Isn' t the CO2 footprint for recycled plastics worse than for new plastics?
No, because the processing of a recyclate requires far less energy than the extraction of crude oil, which is the raw material for plastics.
Schneider pens made of recycled plastic
Why does Schneider manufacture writing instruments made of plastic?
Plastic is a highly versatile material that enables user-specific solutions. For writing instruments, for example, high density and stability are important for a long service life, as are surfaces that are comfortable to hold, mechanical properties, a variety of colours, etc. Last but not least, plastic is a lightweight and cost-effective material that makes the pens affordable for everyone.The simple and clean refill options that we offer for many of our products guarantee the unlimited usability of our writing instruments for several years.
Why does Schneider now use recycled plastics?
We have always reintroduced production waste from our own injection moulding operations into the production process by re-grinding it. The proportion of our recovered waste is over 85 %. By definition, however, this is not supposed to be called recycling, but re-using in the same process and thus an avoidable waste.
By using recycled material, we are actively helping to conserve the increasingly scarce sources of raw materials and energy. The use of recycled materials depends strongly on the requirements of the resulting product. Recycled plastics are not suitable for every technical and aesthetic requirement. Furthermore, it must be ensured that the recycled material is permanently available in sufficient quantity and Quality.
Do writing instruments made of recycled plastic have disadvantages?
We make no compromises when it comes to the quality of our recycled plastic products. We set the same high quality standards for these products as those generally applied at Schneider. Only if we can guarantee this beyond doubt we can switch over established products and model ranges to series production. For example, many of our marker barrels have recently been converted to recycled plastic. These have the same high qualitative properties and thus service life as their predecessors made of conventional plastics.
How is the recycling percentage measured at Schneider?
We have carried out independent certifications for all recycling plastics used by accredited certification bodies, which confirm the recyclate content.
What were Schneider's recycled products in their "first life"?
e.g. PET bottles, cosmetic packaging, hygiene articles, films, refrigerator parts, medical products, electronic devices or waste from the households. These are selected from the waste stream according to their type and reconditioned for further processing.
How does Schneider verify the use of recycled plastics?
Through the certification of independent certification bodies such as DIN Certco and / or EUCert-Plast.
Why don't the recycling products from Schneider have the typical recycling look?
The recycled plastics used for our products are in some cases pure in colour and can therefore be dyed brilliantly (e.g. PET). However, there are also recyclate types that are only available in black. Of course, we endeavour to use as pure and colour-neutral sources of recyclate as possible in order to create serial products from them that are in no way inferior to conventional plastic products. We thus satisfy the preferences of a broad target group and do not promote separate "eco-lines".
How should Schneider pens made of recycled plastic be disposed of?
The disposal of writing instruments in amounts which are normal for households can be done within the domestic waste. The plastic is then either recycled or used to generate thermal energy.
What does the percentage value indicated in the three-arrow symbol for recycling at Schneider refer to?
The percentage of recycled content always refers to the visible body parts of the pen. This means that the percentage decreases if conventional plastics are also integrated in any part of the pen body. But even if all body parts were made of recycled material, a 100% indication would be misleading because auxiliary materials or small amounts of colorants are always included in the processing.
What are bio-based plastics?
Examples of bio-based plastics are BioPE, BioPET, cellulose acetate and PLA.
Bio-based plastics are derived from renewable raw materials (RRM). These include corn starch, sugar cane or beet, vegetable oils such as castor oil and cellulose from cotton or wood.
What is the terminological difference between bioplastics and bio-based plastics?
Bioplastics include both bio-based plastics and biodegradable plastics. The formulation 'bio-based' is specifically applied to plastics derived from renewable raw materials.
How much 'bio' is needed to make a bio-based material?
There are no precise specifications. Certification systems exist based on the proportions of bio-based plastics in a material.
Are products made of bio-based plastic biodegradable?
Both biodegradable and non-degradable plastics exist. Biodegradability is neither a necessary nor an exclusive feature of bio-based plastics - certain fossil-fuel plastics may also be formulated to be biodegradable. It is technically impracticable to create products with a long-service life, designed to remain resistant over periods of use under all climatic conditions, that are subsequently biodegradable after their useful life.
What does biodegradable mean?
Biodegradable means that a material can be broken down by natural, biological processes within a reasonable period of time. This is, however, a rather general statement. When speaking of the biodegradable properties of a material or product, it is essential to give additional information regarding the duration and the necessary environmental conditions. For instance, a material can biodegrade in the human body (surgical sutures), at the surface of the ocean, on the beach or at the bottom of the sea, in the soil on a field, or in a biogas or composting plant. Accordingly, there are various test standards and associated certification systems that distinguish, for instance, between industrial and domestic composting.
Is bio-based plastic more environmentally friendly than fossil-fuel plastic?
The use of renewable raw materials conserves our limited mineral oil resources and reduces CO2 emissions, in an average comparison with conventional fossil-fuel-based raw materials.
Is it true that the land needed to grow bio-based plastic source materials is in competition with farmland used for growing foodstuffs?
The worldwide production volume of bio-based plastics for 2017 is estimated at six million tonnes. Less than 0.1 percent of the world's agricultural land is used for growing the required raw materials. In comparison: all the fossil-fuel-based plastics needed in the world could theoretically be replaced by bio-based plastics, whose raw material corresponds with only 10 percent of the agricultural land used to grow food which is subsequently thrown away.
Naturally, in a growing market, it is important that there is no competition with the cultivation of foodstuffs, both now and in the future. For this reason, researchers are making great efforts in looking into the use of wood or agricultural waste materials as well as municipal green waste and even straw as raw materials for producing bio-based plastics.
What are the damaging effects of cultivating renewable raw materials for making plastic?
We are monitoring the use of soil fertilisers, pesticides and genetic engineering as well as the amount of water consumed in growing renewable raw materials. The goal for the future is to ensure that the raw materials used in producing bio-based plastics comes from sustainable agricultural production that is carried out in accordance with ecological criteria. However, it is also necessary to realise that ever since the onset of industrialisation, there has been a general continual intensification of agriculture to maximise yields when growing renewable raw materials for all areas of use, such as consumed and non-consumed foodstuffs, feed, energy sources, textiles, etc.
How are bio-based plastics disposed of by means of composting?
Only biodegradably formulated plastics can be composted. Controlled industrial composting necessitates standard conditions in accordance with EN 13432 that do not occur in nature. Biodegradable plastic only decomposes slowly under natural conditions. The duration of the process varies according to the material thicknesses and climatic conditions.
Can bio-based plastics be recycled?
BioPE and BioPET made from renewable raw materials can be detected in the recycling stream, recycled and reused in the same way as conventional PE and PET made from fossil-fuel-based raw materials.
Recycling systems for new types of bio-based plastics, such as PLA, are already under development. Schneider is also working on the sustainable reuse of PLA in a research association with the Institute for Bioplastics and Biocomposites (IfBB) of the Hochschule Hannover - University of Applied Sciences and Arts and other partners. A recycling company already exists in Germany that is able to separate the waste PLA from other materials collected in the dual waste disposal system.
Schneider pens made of bio-based plastic
Why does Schneider produce writing instruments made of plastic?
Plastic is a highly versatile material that lends itself well to creating user-specific solutions. Important aspects of writing instruments are high impermeability and good stability to ensure a long product service life, as well as outer surfaces that are pleasant to the touch. Moreover, plastic is a light, cheap material that can be used to make pens that anyone can afford. The simple and clean refilling methods that we offer for many of our products ensure their unlimited usability for years to come.
Why does Schneider use bio-based plastics?
Bio-based plastic is hardly a new invention. The first industrially produced plastic was a bioplastic - celluloid - first made in 1869. The first fossil-fuel-based plastics, which we still use today, were only invented in the early twentieth century. However, as they were cheaper, subsequent developments concentrated on them.
This is a situation that will - and must - change in the coming years. Mineral oil is a finite resource and frequently subject to speculation and crisis. Moreover, mineral oil production harbours a serious risk to the environment, for example through fracking. Our primary objective is for bio-based plastics to achieve all the familiar and outstanding characteristics of fossil-fuel plastics, so as to protect our finite resources.
Do writing instruments made of bio-based plastics have any disadvantages?
No, not at all. Our bio-based plastic writing instruments display no disadvantages when compared with similar products made from conventional fossil-fuel based plastic. This is because the bio-based plastics we use are specially developed and modified for our applications.
How is the proportion of bio-based material determined?
Since 2010, independent certification of bio-based products has been available in Germany. The certifying body DIN CERTCO introduced its 'DIN-proven biobased mark' for this purpose. Bio-based carbon content is determined by means of the standardised and internationally recognised C14 Method (EU Standard CEN/TS 17137, US Standard ASTM 6866). We have conducted this independent certification for all writing instruments made of bio-based plastic.
Why is it not possible to produce writing instruments made of 100% bio-based plastic?
The development of bio-based plastics is still ongoing. It is not yet possible to produce all the raw materials required for their production by renewable means. This is why some bio-based plastics are only partially made from renewable raw materials. One of the goals of our ongoing developments is to increase the bio-based content of the plastics employed in our production.
How can our bio-based pens have such vibrant colours despite being bio products?
Despite their high RRM content, the bio-based plastics configured for our applications can be dyed in brilliant colours. The dyes we use have been specially formulated for our purposes and they cover a broad colour spectrum. Our bio-based plastic products are not niche products and reflect the tastes of the broad public.
Why are not all of Schneider's writing instruments bio-based?
We use a large number of different types of plastic. The changeover to bio-based plastics requires an intensive development process. Not all types of bio-based plastic possess the properties that are required for writing instruments, such as providing a barrier to stop inks from drying out. We are currently working on further writing instruments made of bio-based plastic and will add them to our product range accordingly.
Why do we use bio-based plastic and not recycled plastic?
The two methods of conserving resources should not be placed in competition with each other, as they both have their own advantages. Which method is used depends on the demands placed on the ultimate product. Besides bio-based plastics, we also employ production waste from our injection moulding plant in the components of our writing instruments. Moreover, bio-based plastics can ultimately be recycled just as well as conventional plastics.
How should pens made of bio-based plastic be disposed of?
Writing instruments can be disposed of in normal household quantities in the regular domestic refuse. It makes no difference whether the barrel is made of bio-based plastic or not. Following its disposal, the plastic is either recycled or used for recovering heat energy. Only naturally stored CO2 is released, i.e. CO2-neutral energy is produced.
How are developments set to continue at Schneider?
Bio-based plastics offer great potential. We are already using the bio-based plastics that are available today and are helping to develop optimum production processes for them. We work in close coordination with researchers, for instance the Institute for Bioplastics and Biocomposites (IfBB) of the Hochschule Hannover - University of Applied Sciences and Arts.
What does climate neutrality mean?
The principle of climate neutrality
Companies, products and processes can be called carbon neutral if the CO2 emissions they cause have been calculated and offset by supporting internationally recognized and certified carbon offset projects. Offsetting CO2 emissions is, alongside avoidance and reduction of emissions, another important step in holistic climate protection. Greenhouse gases such as CO2 are evenly distributed in the atmosphere, so the greenhouse gas concentration is roughly the same throughout the world. Since regionally generated greenhouse gases disperse evenly throughout the atmosphere, it is equally beneficial to the climate whether CO2 is saved at the site where it is emitted or elsewhere. Emissions that can not be avoided or reduced locally can therefore be mathematically offset through climate protection measures at another location by supporting the certified climate protection projects.
What is a climate protection project?
How does a climate protection project work?
Climate protection projects demonstrably save greenhouse gases, for example through afforestation or renewable energies. Independent organizations such as TÜV, SGS, PwC and others verify the exact amount of emissions which are being saved. The project operator finances the project by selling certified emission reduction certificates. Only projects requiring financial support are recognized as climate protection projects.
Criteria for climate protection projects
Climate protection projects must meet internationally recognized standards. The most important criteria are:
It must be ensured that a project is implemented only because it receives additional financing through emission trading. The project must therefore rely on revenues from emissions trading to cover its financing needs.
b) Exclusion of double counting
It must be ensured that CO2 emissions that are offset are credited only once to the owner of the certificates. This means in particular that certificates may only be sold once and then have to be decommissioned.
The offset of emissions must be durable and sustainable, for example, the binding of CO2 in forests must be long-term. Afforestation, which after a few years is transformed by slash and burn back into pastures for livestock, must not be recognized as a climate protection project.
d) Regular review by independent third parties
Climate protection projects must be regularly examined in all of these criteria by independent third parties such as TÜV, SGS or PwC. In the examination review, the actual amounts of CO2 which are offset are determined retroactively.
Climate protection at Schneider?
How does Schneider actively contribute to climate protection?
As part of our EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) validation process and our continuous efforts which come along with it, we have consistently improved our environmental performance since 1998 with a large number of measures documented in our sustainability report. The reduction of CO2 emissions is one of these measures taken.
CO2 emissions that occur during the production of a product are determined by the so-called "Product Carbon Footprint". They therefore represent the ecological footprint of the product. This footprint also includes the CO2-relevant factors that arise during the production or processing of the raw materials at our suppliers production sites including their transport to our company. These CO2 emissions, which we have no direct influence over or have no means to avoid are offset by investing in recognized climate protection projects.
Schneider offers its popular Slider series, the ballpen K3, the fineliner and fibrepen series Link-It, the fineliner Line-Up and the promotional ballpoint pen Like as climate neutral without any extra costs. In addition, individual orders for (printed) promotional merchandise can be offered carbon-neutral on customer request.
Schneider supports a certified climate protection project for forest conservation in the Amazon Rain Forest (Link)