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Austrian Plastic Pipe Recycling Workgroup (ÖAKR) offers sustainable benefits

The savings in 2009 due to the ÖAKR system amounted to 1,600 tonnes of CO2 and 70,000 gigajoules of primary energy

This impressive result, which is equivalent to eliminating the CO2 from 7.4 million kilometres of car travel and the energy required to produce hot water for 27,000 people (roughly a city the size of Bregenz), was achieved with the current 2009 collection quantity of 1,338 tonnes.

Vienna. Austria’s leading manufacturer of plastic pipes has worked with the ÖAKR since 1991 to operate the successful, comprehensive collection and recycling system for used pipes, fittings and pipe scrap arising during installation, setting an example for all of Europe to follow. Pipelife Austria, part of the international Pipelife Group, was established in 1989 and operates via 20 sales offices with its head office being close to Vienna.

The important contributions of the ÖAKR system to sustainability can be seen in a new study by denkstatt GmbH (formerly GUA): “Plastic Pipe Recycling: Contributions of ÖAKR to Sustainability” (May 2010). Study author Harald Pilz and the ÖAKR chairperson presented the results in a press conference on 21 May 2010.
Pilz, who works on carbon footprint calculations, life cycle analyses and sustainability assessments for products and services as a project manager at denkstatt GmbH: “The system is well developed. The annual improvement of ÖAKR with regard to collections and costs is impressive. The carbon footprint of plastic pipes that are recycled improves on average by about 40 per cent.”

Environmentally friendly, economical and socially responsible
The use of recycled material in new products reduces the production of primary material. ÖAKR makes important contributions to the environmental factor of sustainability thanks to the resulting resource conservation, reductions in energy use and CO2 footprint, longer service lives and the development of “anthropogenic stores” (long-lasting products in use) as a raw materials source.  The inexpensive provision of valuable secondary raw materials and fuels makes it economical, the creation of jobs makes it socially responsible.

Significance of ÖAKR activities for climate protection:
In the year 2009, 1,600 tonnes of CO2 were eliminated. This corresponds to roughly 7.4 million kilometres of car travel or 220,000 operating hours of 1,000 low-energy bulbs (11 watts). ÖAKR previously reduced the CO2 emissions of all plastic pipe waste by 40%. The current EU goal for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is 20% by 2020.

Relevance of the energy carrier saved:
ÖAKR saved 70,000 gigajoules of primary energy in 2009. This corresponds to the annual energy required to produce hot water for about 27,000 people or a city the size of Bregenz, the capital of Vorarlberg. Or the energy content of roughly 30 tank trucks filled with heating oil.

The activities of ÖAKR contribute to employment in Austria by creating jobs associated with the recycling of plastic pipes in all sub-areas: collection, sorting, material and thermal recycling.

Extension of the value creation chain by decades
ÖAKR’s system partner, Reststofftechnik, produces recycled material of high quality, which is used in turn for long-lasting, high-quality products such as cable conduit, cable protector plates, pallets and construction profiles.

Unrecyclable material is used as fuel in special industrial plants with high efficiency, where it replaces coal and heavy oil. 

In 2009, ÖAKR collected 1,338 tonnes of material, which breaks down as follows: 31% PVC, 34% polyethylene, 12% polypropylene, 16% various plastic types, 7% waste. 

The economic efficiency of the ÖAKR system is continuously optimised. As a result, the required additional payment has been reduced by a factor of 5 since the start of collection in the year 1991. The system is financed exclusively by the ÖAKR member companies Agru, Dietzel Univolt, Geberit, Ke Kelit, Kontinentale, Glynwed, Martoni, Pipelife, Poloplast, Rehau and Uponor.

 Presentation of the study: “Plastic Pipe Recycling: Contributions of ÖAKR to Sustainability”
Left to right: ÖAKR Chair Gerda Aichinger, Karl Aigner, Elmar Ratschmann with study author Harald Pilz, denkstatt.
Left to right: ÖAKR Chair Gerda Aichinger, Karl Aigner, Elmar Ratschmann with study author Harald Pilz, denkstatt