Members of The European Plastic Pipes and Fittings Association (Teppfa) have pledged to increase their recycling targets to 250,000 tonnes a year by 2020 but have warned they are being held back by European Union (EU) legislation.
Despite a significant existing voluntary target for the plastic pipes industry to recycle 120,000 tonnes of plastic a year within the next four years, as outlined by the VinylPlus initiative, Teppfa members believe they can achieve more than double this level providing obstacles in current European and national legislation are addressed.
The association said that under the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (Reach) Legislation and the Waste Framework Directive (WFD) some additives found in a number of the end of life plastic materials suitable for recycling will be classified as hazardous or harmful to human health or the environment resulting in them being consigned to incineration or landfill.
However Teppfa has insisted that recent research reports have shown that, under specified conditions, there is no health, safety or environmental risk associated with recycling end of life products containing ‘legacy substances'.
Teppfa general manager, Tony Calton said: “The problem posed under Reach and WFD is that without amendments being made more plastic waste will be incinerated and sent to landfill when it can safely be recycled without risk to human health or the environment.
“Research has shown that none of the potentially harmful additives are released during the recycling and pipe manufacturing processes, or during the use phase of the products as they are locked into the matrix of the material.
“For this reason Teppfa is currently campaigning at EU level for a special status for the recyclable material containing additives which may now or in the future be covered under Reach and WFD to allow it to be recycled and not consigned to incineration or landfill – second and third choices as outlined in the Circular Economy Package.”
Teppfa members have pledged a new recycling target which incorporates PVC-u, polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP). The commitment is supported by advances in recycling technology, eco-design and the wider availability of suitable recycled material to incorporate into high quality products.