A "plastic tax" is to be introduced in Europe from 2021. This was decided at the EU summit on Corona aid. All EU countries are to transfer 80 cents to Brussels for every kilo of non-recycled plastic packaging waste from January on Another incentive for companies to improve the recycling balance of packaging materials. The principle of the Circular Economy helps to deal competently with this challenge. In the following, we present the model of a circular economy and go into detail about one of the leading standards that supports companies in implementing a circular system: ISCC PLUS.

Slowly but surely, politicians and society are becoming aware that there is no way back when it comes to sustainability. After all, the consequences of our throwaway mentality ultimately end up back with us, in the form of environmental pollution, climate change, and dwindling resources. It is becoming increasingly clear how urgently we need a new industrial model.

The European Union also sees it that way and has now introduced a so-called plastic tax, which is to come into force as early as January of next year. Companies now have a choice: Either they pass on the costs to their customers - or, they take the opportunity and align themselves to meet social and regulatory requirements in the future.

One promising approach to realizing the second option is the so-called circular economy. The model is concerned with handling resources prudently so that nothing is wasted. This means that products and materials are kept in the product cycle and reused, re-manufactured and recycled for as long as possible. This regenerative approach is intended to create a closed-loop supply chain that, through its system design, simply allows for no waste.

The benefits of such an economic system are obvious: Maximizing economic, natural, and social capital. In this way, environmental goals can be achieved and economic growth stimulated. So much for the theory. The practice, of course, is much more complicated. But there are standards that help companies make the transition to a circular economy. ISCC PLUS is one of them.

The certification system allows producers to take full responsibility for the sustainability impacts of their raw materials. Here you can learn about the principles of ISCC PLUS and view examples of the many ways the ISCC PLUS standard can be applied.

ISCC Plus Certification
for the Circular Economy

ISCC PLUS certification for the circular economy can be applied to all raw materials that can be recycled. For these materials, the standard offers two options:

The source material can either be 1., physically separated or 2., mixed but separately accounted for using the mass balance method.

For example, mixed plastic waste can find its way directly back into the supply chain. The mass balance method not only gives the material an economic value, but also reduces the risk of plastic waste entering the environment in an uncontrolled way. ISCC PLUS certification guarantees that the material is actually recycled, and that the consumption of virgin raw material is reduced.

The certification is of particular interest to manufacturers of biopolymer packaging made from the biodegradable material PLA (polylactic acid), for example, or to companies that process household waste, landfill gases or used car tires into valuable products.

The advantages

ISCC PLUS certification helps companies meet existing and future sustainability requirements. Consumer demands are met, employee retention is supported through sustainable business management, and future regulatory requirements can be preemptively prevented.

Constanze Illner

Constanze Illner (she/her) is Research and Communications Officer in the area of sustainability and food safety. In this position, she keeps an eye on all important developments in this context and informs our clientele in a monthly newsletter. She also moderates the annual Sustainability Heroes conference.