PlasticsEurope, the Brussels-based pan-European association of plastics manufacturers, supports the European Commission’s proposal for a mandatory EU recycled content target for plastics packaging. In a statement issued early this morning, the association calls for a target of 30% for plastics packaging by 2030.
According to its figures, some 17.8 Mt of plastic post-consumer packaging waste were collected in 2018. 42% were sent to recycling, 39.5% to energy recovery and 18.5% to landfills - figures that clearly show room for improvement.
A mandatory EU recycled content target in packaging would drive the market for recycled content and help to make a true circular economy happen.
As PlasticsEurope notes, using recycled content in plastic packaging would offer several advantages: it would allow the recycling of plastic waste which would otherwise be incinerated or sent to landfill as well as further reduce the carbon footprint of packaging. By reducing the amount of virgin material needed, it would also help conserve natural resources.
However, a lack of regulatory authorisation for polymers , e.g. food contact legislation, combined with inconsistent batch qualities and lack of supply security are all still factors which must be tackled if true progress is to be made. The efficiency of the supply chain and having the right infrastructure in place also need to be taken into account. Achieving this goal requires action from all partners involved.
The European Commission’s Circular Plastics Alliance is a good example of the type of concerted collaboration that is necessary. The alliance, in which PlasticsEurope plays a leading role, brings together over 290 value chain members striving towards the delivery of 10 million tonnes of recycled content in products by 2025.
Furthermore, PlasticsEurope members are already working towards the proposed 2030 target and are investing billions of Euros in among others, new technology solutions, such as chemical recycling. Planned investments in this technology and infrastructure range from 2.6 billion Euros by 2025 to 7.2 billion Euros by 2030 in Europe.
As PlasticsEurope says: “Chemical recycling is the missing link necessary to achieve a truly circular economy for plastics. As a promising technology, chemical recycling complements other plastic recycling options like mechanical and dissolution recycling.”
Ramping up chemical recycling is essential to achieve such a mandatory target, the association warns.