Circular Plastics Alliance commits to 10 million tonnes of recycled plastic by 2025

The Circular Plastics Alliance, a group of public bodies, businesses and trade organisations supported by the European Commission, has published a declaration committing to increasing the use of recycled plastic over the next six years.

The declaration commits to using 10 million tonnes of recycled plastic in new products by 2025.

A plastic recycling conveyor belt

To reach this target, the declaration lays out a series of actions to be taken, including improving the design of plastic packaging, investing in collection and sorting facilities and building a research and development agenda on circular plastics.

Commenting on the Alliance, European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans, responsible for Sustainable Development, said: “I welcome the industry’s commitments to rethink the way we produce and use plastics. By efficiently recycling plastics, we will clean up the planet and fight climate change, by substituting fossil fuels with plastic waste in the production cycle.”

Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, added: “We have the opportunity to make our industry a world leader in recycled plastics. We should fully seize it to protect the environment, to create new jobs in this sector and remain competitive.”

The Circular Plastics Alliance held its first meeting in February and has been calling on stakeholders to make voluntary pledges to use or produce more recycled plastics.

More than 100 partners across the plastics value chain have signed the declaration, including FEAD, the European Federation of Waste Management and Environmental Services.

Responding to the declaration, FEAD has called for an even stronger commitment towards improving plastic waste recycling, advocating measures such as mandatory green public procurement, binding recycled content in certain products, reduced VAT for products composed of recycled content and eco-design.

According to Jean-Marc Boursier, FEAD’s President: “Such instruments are able to deliver strong market signals, as demonstrated by the adoption of mandatory recycled content in plastic bottles in the recently adopted Single-Use Plastics Directive, even if the latter has not come into force yet!

“At a time where exports of sorted materials are questioned, a shock on demand in Europe is still needed for all plastic waste streams to ensure a high collection and plastic recycling rate.”

However, the declaration has attracted criticism from the NGO sector, with Zero Waste Europe (ZWE) claiming that NGOs were not consulted in the process. Justine Maillot, ZWE Consumption and Production Campaigner, said: "The Circular Plastics Alliance could have been an opportunity to bring together industry players from across the plastic supply chain, together with other stakeholders, to design systematic solutions.

"However, the declaration's general lack of ambition and sole focus on recycling is regrettable, so we call the Circular Plastics Alliance to clarify its targets and the measures to achieve them, as well as to establish monitoring and reporting mechanisms.

"NGOs were involved very late in the process and it seems will now remain excluded from the next steps unless they except the late invitation to sign the declaration – that was written without consulting them.

"This lack of NGO involvement is disappointing, given their ability to bring expertise into these discussions, both on recycling, including chemical recycling, and on upstream systematic solutions focused on prevention, toxic-free eco-design and reuse systems."

EU action on plastics

The Circular Plastics Alliance declaration comes as part of the EU Plastics Strategy – a Europe-wide strategy, launched in January 2018, which aims to make all plastic packaging on the EU market recyclable or reusable by 2030.

The Single-Use Plastics Directive is also part of the EU’s Plastics Strategy, and will prevent the sale and use of 10 problematic single-use plastic products, including cotton bud sticks, plastic cutlery and straws. The Directive will also implement extended producer responsibility (EPR) for fishing equipment, reduce the consumption of food containers and beverage cups made from plastic, and introduce a 90 per cent separate collection target for plastic bottles by 2029. Targets to incorporate 25 per cent recycled plastic in PET bottles from 2025 and 30 per cent in all plastic bottles from 2030 also come as part of the Directive.

The Plastics Strategy constitutes a key aspect of the EU’s Circular Economy Package (CEP), which intends to improve resource efficiency and reduce dependence on raw materials. As part of the CEP, member states are required to achieve a municipal recycling rate of 60 per cent by 2030.

You can read the Declaration of the Circular Plastics Alliance on the European Commission’s website.

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