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The RIGK history

Over 30 years of innovative plastics recycling

RIGK’s work began over 30 years ago, when huge landfill sites formed part of the landscape in Germany – and today continues in an age in which the concept of plastic recycling and recycling products has finally established itself in people’s minds. Find out which successes we have achieved!

1991 – Challenging the mountains of rubbish

In 1991, the German Packaging Ordinance was approved: for the first time, the industry was obligated to take back packaging and to participate in recycling.

1992 – Foundation of RIGK GmbH

In industry and commerce, the packaging and plastics producers decided to found the “Gesellschaft zur Rückführung industrieller und gewerblicher Kunststoffverpackungen mbH” (Society for the recovery of industrial and commercial plastic packaging) – or RIGK for short.

1992 – The starting signal for the RIGK-SYSTEM 

At the end of 1992, it all got started: RIGK – at the time still based in the Bad Homburg location – commenced their operative work with the RIGK-SYSTEM for packaging of non-hazardous products. Further recovery systems followed– and, after the industry and commerce sectors, the agricultural sector also affiliated themselves with the services provided by the RIGK. 

The 90‘s – persuasive efforts and milestones

In the early years, RIGK mainly performed persuasive efforts: the license fees were relatively high at the time compared to today; the infrastructure of collection points and recycling plants was still poor, and the returned quantities of packaging were low. Yet as the technologies connected with plastic recycling developed, packaging materials became more widely available, and the acceptance for recycling grew, as well as the number of users and the collection point network – and the license prices dropped. The recovery systems also became increasingly more diverse, and soon comprised the recovery of empty used packaging and films from industry, commerce and agriculture across the whole of Germany.

2000 - Taking back hazardous packaging thanks to the RIGK-G-SYSTEM

After RIGK had gained experience in the take-back of packaging over the past eight years, the range of services was extended at the turn of the millennium by the RIGK-G(hazardous substance)-SYSTEM for the safe take-back of packaging for hazardous goods. Since then, it has been ensured that packaging containing hazardous materials is energetically recovered.

2003 - RIGK expands its service in the agricultural sector with PAMIRA®

In the past 10 years, RIGK has gained a very good reputation as a reliable partner in packaging take-back and recovery. This has not gone unnoticed by the Industrieverband Agrar e.V. (German Agricultural Industry Association), which has henceforth appointed RIGK as the system operator of the take-back system for empty used plant protection products and liquid fertilizer packaging. A decision that has paid off. PAMIRA® has grown steadily and currently comprises almost 400 collection points. This ensures nationwide take-back throughout Germany.

2005 – License costs remain at the same low level

Because the RIGK does not have to orientate itself on the maximisation of profits, price reductions are always forwarded on to the customers. In this way, the license fees for some packaging could already be halved in the first ten years, and achieved a low level in 2005, which has been maintained until today. 

2006 – Membership of the European Association of Recovery Systems

RIGK is increasingly building up its international network, and becomes a member of a Pan European Association – the European Association of Plastics Recycling & Recovery Organisations (EPRO), which concerns itself with the organisation and promotion of plastics recycling.

2007 - RIGK PICKUP-SYSTEM - the first collection system of RIGK GmbH

Since 2007 RIGK enables together with the participating producers an all-round carefree service for end consumers, whose used packaging is collected directly on site and recycled in accordance with the packaging law.

2008 – RIGK Romania for the Eastern European market

RIGK Romania (RIGK S.R.L.) is founded and now brings RIGK know-how onto the Eastern European market.

2011 – Formation of the Product Responsibility Branch Initiative (BiPv) 

Together with three further operators of producer-supported systems for the return of packaging, RIGK forms the Brancheninitiative Produktverantwortung (Product Responsibility Branch Initiative BiPv). The members are the Gebinde-Verwertungsgesellschaft der Mineralölwirtschaft mbH (packaging recycling association of the mineral oil economy mbH GVÖ), Hamburg, the Kreislaufsystem Blechverpackungen Stahl GmbH (Circulatory system for lead and steel packaging KBS) Düsseldorf and Partslife GmbH, Neu-Isenburg. All four companies began their work shortly after the Packaging Ordinance came into force in the year 1991. At the moment the BiPv consists of GVÖ, KBS and RIGK.

2012 – Climate protection certificates for RIGK customers

RIGK starts to issue climate protection certificates in accordance with the ISO standards 14040 and 14044 to participating trademark users from the fields of industry, commerce and agriculture. In this way, the companies have their individual reduction of CO2 emissions officially confirmed through ecologically-efficient recycling.

2013 – Pesticide take-back and disposal ®

RIGK provides with the PRE-SYSTEM the solution for an extra sensitive issue and relieves end users from the agricultural sector of the safe, environmentally friendly disposal of unusable crop protection products and other chemicals.

2014 - ERDE Recycling for agriculture

In the past 22 years since the company was founded, RIGK has developed into the disposal specialist for the agricultural sector. The Crop Plastics Recycling Germany (ERDE) combines RIGK's sector solutions and the commitment of the producing companies of crop plastics under the umbrella of the IK Industrievereinigung Kunststoffverpackungen (Industrial Association for Plastic Packaging) e.V.

2015 – First international recycling forum

In cooperation with EPRO, RIGK successfully organised the first International Recycling Forum in Wiesbaden. For the first time, international representatives of the branch meet together to exchange information on recycling topics.  

2016 – Pioneer work in Chile

The subsidiary RIGK Chile SpA accompanies Chile with consultancy projects on its path to being the first South American country with an effective closed loop recycling management. The focus is placed on the introduction of disposal systems.  

2018 - Closing the loop with the subsidiary plastship

The subsidiary plastship brings plastic distributors and plastic processors together via an online platform. In addition, plastship evaluates the recyclability of plastic packaging as a certification body of RecyClass, uses the network to build closed loops and advises on the use of regranulates.

2019 - Cooperation with Spanish recycling specialist SINTAC

For years, RIGK cooperates with the company SINTAC from Spain. SINTAC advises Spanish companies exporting packed goods to Germany on their legal obligations and supports them in joining the RIGK systems.

2021 - Foundation of ERDE Switzerland

The success story of ERDE is now also being continued in Switzerland. RIGK ensures together with the Swiss sector association the take-back and recycling of films, yarns and nets from the agricultural sector through ERDE Switzerland.

2022 - VerenA: Big Bag take-back from the agricultural sector

As the youngest take-back system, VerenA (Packaging disposal agriculture) provides for the nationwide and efficient take-back of big bags from the agricultural sector via the agricultural trade.

2022 – Anniversary year and new impulses

75 employees and a total of eight recovery systems located across Germany - since its foundation 30 years ago, RIGK has developed into a successful and innovative service provider. The objectives for RIGK have been set: to successfully fulfil increasing demand, to develop the good economic situation of the company, to expand digitalisation, to further increase customer satisfaction and to develop the existing recovery systems and the company’s international activities!

2023 - RIGK Closes the Loop Entirely

RIGK continually expands its efforts to promote an efficient circular economy for packaging and plastic products. The introduction of the PlastCert department, specializing in the certification of recyclability, recycled content, recycling processes, and the testing of recyclates with tailored guidance, along with the acquisition of the long-standing partner and recycling company, Hannawald Plastik GmbH, which focuses on the sorting and refinement of packaging materials made from PE and PP, are recent examples of RIGK's commitment to sustainable plastic management. RIGK is now involved in all stages of the circular process, from packaging licensing to the collection and recycling of raw materials, to the commercialisation of recyclates, thus contributing to the conservation of valuable resources.


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Facts & figures

Discover the most important facts and figures on companies, services and successes – clearly laid out and at a glance.

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How does recycling work?

New products and new energy – material and energetic recycling is the RIGK solution for the sustainable recycling of packaging and plastics.

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Do you have any questions?

Then simply call us, or send us an email! Your contact is happy to assist you personally with additional information, and will advise you on all recovery and recycling topics.

Claudia Hoese
Claudia HoeseCustomer Relationship Manager / Public Relations Manager