PlasticsEurope welcomes mandatory EU recycled content target

PlasticsEurope yesterday (9 September) announced its support for the European Commission’s (EC) proposal for a mandatory EU recycled content target for plastics packaging, and called for the target to be set at 30 per cent by 2030.

EU flags in BrusselsThe trade association said that it ‘welcomed’ the proposed revision of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD), EU legislation which it asserts is ‘key’ to the transition to a circular economy for plastics.

According to PlasticsEurope, the organisation’s members are already working towards this target by investing in an increased high-quality supply of recycled plastics and new technology solutions. Scaling up chemical recycling, it says, is ‘essential’ to achieving the proposed target.

PlasticsEurope has also emphasised that an enabling policy framework and collaboration with the value chain would be essential to reaching targets, highlighting the need for new systems thinking, mindset and behavioural changes, higher-performing products, eco-design innovation and new infrastructure.

The organisation cites the EC’s Circular Plastics Alliance as a ‘prime example’ of the kind of collaboration that is necessary. The alliance, of which PlasticsEurope is a part, brings together over 290 value chain members, aiming to deliver 10 million tonnes of recycled content in products by 2025.

Plans to revise the PPWD were outlined in the EC’s work programme for 2021, released in October 2020, with the Commission indicating that it would propose revisions to the Directive as part of its European Green New Deal and new Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP).

In February 2021, the European Parliament published a resolution of the new CEAP, reiterating the objective to make all packaging reusable or recyclable in an economically viable way by 2030, and calling on the Commission to present a legislative proposal without delay.

First published in March 2020, the CEAP outlines measures to ensure that products are designed to last longer and are easier to reuse, repair and recycle, aiming to decouple economic growth from resource use.

The CEAP followed, and is at the centre of, the European Green New Deal, which was described in a strategy document as ‘a new growth strategy that aims to transform the EU into a fair and prosperous society, with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy where there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050 and where economic growth is decoupled from resource use’.

Commenting on the EC’s proposed revision, Dr Markus Steilemann, President of PlasticsEurope and CEO of Covestro, said: “The world must embrace the circular economy concept as the key to climate neutrality, resource conservation and environmental protection. The call for a regulated recycled content target for plastics packaging in the EU demonstrates our commitment to accelerate the transformation to a circular economy, helping implement the EU Green Deal and Circular Economy Action Plan.”

Virginia Janssens, Managing Director of PlasticsEurope, added: “We need a harmonised EU policy framework that provides certainty and incentivises further investment in collection, sorting and recycling infrastructure and technologies, including chemical recycling. We must harness the power of the single market.

“However, systemic change requires concerted collaboration. It is only by working together with the EU institutions and the value chain that we can deliver on this target. With the right enabling conditions in place, this will be a very different industry 10 years from now.”

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