Let’s recycle! Ambitious recycling goals are set by the Circular Plastics Alliance

Too many recy­clable mate­ri­als are not re-used across the EU. From glass to Expand­ed Poly­styrene (EPS), there is an over­ar­ch­ing prob­lem that needs to be fixed in the con­ti­nent. To fix this issue, many stake­hold­ers involved in the plas­tics val­ue chains have joined the Cir­cu­lar Plas­tics Alliance (CPA), includ­ing mem­bers of Smart Pack­ag­ing Europe. The Alliance exists to pro­mote the use of more recy­cled plas­tics in Europe, and it very recent­ly put for­ward new indus­try com­mit­ments to fur­ther the recy­cla­bil­i­ty of plas­tics in the EU.

Mem­bers com­mit­ted to boost­ing the EU mar­ket for recy­cled plas­tics to at least 10 mil­lion tonnes of recy­cled plas­tics that should find their way into prod­ucts and pack­ag­ing in Europe each year, help­ing to deliv­er the cir­cu­lar econ­o­my with a life cycle approach. To achieve this ambi­tious goal, almost 3.5 mil­lion tonnes of plas­tics would need to be recy­cled by 2025. This cor­re­sponds to esti­mat­ed invest­ment needs between € 7.6 bil­lion and € 9.1 billion.

The Alliance will now step-up efforts by ensur­ing recy­cla­bil­i­ty of 26 top pri­or­i­ty plas­tic prod­ucts in pack­ag­ing, con­struc­tion, agri­cul­ture, and home appli­ances that alto­geth­er account for over 60% of plas­tic waste col­lect­ed in Europe. EPS food and elec­tron­ic pack­ag­ing are among these top pri­or­i­ty prod­ucts. The plan for the recy­cling of these mate­ri­als is shown on the new roadmap pub­lished by the CPA. The guid­ance shows the method­ol­o­gy and rules for a new EU-wide mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem of recy­cled plas­tics- the first-ever EU-wide mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem on recy­cled plastics.

This new ambi­tious goal was dis­cussed in the lat­est meet­ing of the CPA on the 26th of Novem­ber 2021, and the meth­ods to achieve it have been wel­comed by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. When hear­ing about the news, Thier­ry Bre­ton, Euro­pean Com­mis­sion­er for the Inter­nal Mar­ket, embraced these efforts and not­ed that through the CPA, the plas­tics val­ue chain shows ‘great coop­er­a­tion towards the tran­si­tion to cir­cu­lar plas­tics.’ He fur­ther added that the mobil­i­sa­tion of all actors along the val­ue chain and across key plas­tics-using sec­tors is ‘improv­ing Europe’s resilience by max­imis­ing the use of plas­tic waste as a valu­able resource.’ It was clear from the Commissioner’s com­ments that the Com­mis­sion counts on the CPA’s con­tin­ued engage­ment with the environment.

Look­ing for­ward, by 2022, the CPA will pub­lish a new report on the require­ments and solu­tions to increase the uptake of recy­cled plas­tics in prod­ucts to 10 mil­lion tonnes by 2025. The CPA will reg­u­lar­ly update the roadmap to 10 mil­lion tonnes and accel­er­ate dia­logue and exchange with inter­est­ed nation­al stakeholders.

This new tar­get demon­strates the industry’s push­es to the fur­ther and incre­men­tal recy­cla­bil­i­ty of plas­tics. Smart Pack­ag­ing Europe is glad that EPS will be a key pri­or­i­ty prod­uct to tar­get in Europe for its fur­ther recy­cla­bil­i­ty. The EPS indus­try will nonethe­less keep on press­ing for bet­ter tech­nolo­gies and recy­cling meth­ods for this ver­sa­tile material.


AuthorDaniel Costa