13.04.2023 - Sustainability
WEPA has been committed to the circular economy for years, playing its part in conserving resources and the environment through recycling. But what exactly is the circular economy? Why is it so important? And what does the circular economy at WEPA look like in detail? You will find the answers to these questions here.
The circular economy is a model the aim of which is for existing materials and products to be maintained for as long as possible by being reused, repaired, processed and recycled. This extends product life cycles and reduces waste to a minimum.
In practice, this means resources and materials can be kept in the loop for as long as possible and can be sustainably reused again and again. In contrast, the traditional, linear economic model, which is based on a take-make-consume-throw away pattern, relies on large volumes of cheap, easily accessible materials. Fortunately, the EU has called for measures designed to reduce the premature wear and failure of, for example, devices.
A circular economy is important for a number of reasons. These include, in particular, environmental protection, reducing our dependence on raw materials and strengthening the economy.
The circular economy offers numerous advantages in the area of protecting the environment. Reusing and recycling products conserves natural resources and reduces landscape and habitat disruption. It also helps to limit biodiversity loss. The circular economy additionally plays a part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions as waste management accounts for only a small proportion of these – compared with the emissions caused by industrial processes and product use. Designing more efficient and more sustainable products from the outset can further reduce energy and resource consumption. The volume of waste can also be reduced by switching to more reliable products which can be reused, upgraded and repaired.
The circular economy has always been a very important topic for WEPA in order to conserve resources and the environment. It guides all of WEPA’s strategies. Our actions revolve around conserving valuable resources by making long and efficient use of them and using them as sustainably as possible. We consider the entire process here, from purchasing the fibres for our products to water cycles, packaging made of recycled materials and the recycling of residual materials.
We focus here, among other things, on the following areas:
1. Recycled fibres for our hygiene paper products
2. Conserving resources with innovative packaging solutions
3. Sustainable waste management
4. Efficient and resource-conserving production processes
A key component of our circular economy is the recycling of recovered paper and used cardboard in order to further reduce the use of virgin fibres in our hygiene paper products. We see this as an important step with respect to land use, biodiversity and climate protection.
Once the paper fibres have been extracted, residues remain which are not suitable for hygiene paper production. These include paper clips, plastic film residues and inorganic fillers. Paper fibres which are too short are likewise removed as they do not meet the high quality standards applied to WEPA products. These materials are separated into material fractions, allowing single-material waste to then be recycled. For example, plastics producers can use packaging material waste as a raw material. During the de-inking process, paper sludge accumulates which comprises washed-out printing inks and fibres. In some cases, these can be put to use in other industries, for example as raw materials for brick manufacture. Residues which cannot be recycled are used for energy generation. Only small volumes end up as landfill if there is no other means of disposal.