Technological watch

EU urged to prepare for mounting piles of engineering plastics waste

Europe will be facing a growing amount of waste from technical plastic parts in the coming years, a recent white paper has warned.
Driven by digitalision and lightweighting trends, demand for technical plastic parts is increasing “very fast”, making them the third most widely used material, after “[plastics designed for] packaging and building & construction applications,” Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE) said in its latest strategy paper on technical plastic parts recycling.
Currently representing 16% of the total EU plastics demand, engineering plastics are extensively employed in both the automotive and the E&E sector as they are lighter, more durable and safer compared to other materials. 
According to PRE, by 2020, the EU is expected generate an additional 46% of plastic waste coming from the electrical & electronic (E&E) sector compared to the year 2000.
Recycling rates for engineering materials, however, remain low, despite industrial scale facilities and technologies available in Europe, PRE noted.
In 2017, only 300,000 tonnes, out of 3 million tonnes of waste from electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), were destined for recycling at specialised European facilities, PRE figures suggest. 
In its strategy blueprint, Plastics Recyclers Europe has called for improved collection system and sorting infrastructure and an overhaul of “the obsolete waste management practices.” 
Additionally, PRE called for a “consistent and stable legislative framework” to boost investors’ confidence and increase legal certainty.
“Today we need to reach for the untapped material which is not fully exploited yet. This will require extra effort to guarantee the conditions necessary for the recyclers of technical plastic to boost further investment with the goal of transforming this material into a high-quality product,” said Antonino Furfari, PRE managing director.

This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2020-07-14