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PlasticsEurope seeks mandatory 30% recycled content target for plastics

PlasticsEurope, the Brussels-based pan-European association of plastics resin suppliers, said it supports the European Commission's proposal for a mandatory recycled content target for plastics packaging in the European Union.

In a Sept. 9 statement, the association called for a target of 30 percent recycled content for plastics packaging by 2030.

According to its figures, some 17.8 metric tons of post-consumer packaging waste were collected in 2018, with 42 percent sent to recycling, 39.5 percent to energy recovery and 18.5 percent to landfills. Those figures, the group said, 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 noted, 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; further reduce the carbon footprint of packaging; and by reducing the amount of virgin material needed, it would also help conserve natural resources.

However, a lack of regulatory authorization for polymers, such as for 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 group said.

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.

Another pan-European trade group, the European Plastics Converters, noted the complications to the entire supply chain in response to PlasticsEurope's target.

While 30 percent is a good goal, EuPC said in a statement, without a sufficient base to acquire more recycled material, converters will suffer in trying to reach an impossible number.

"As long as recyclates required by the market are not yet available in sufficient quantities and qualities, there is a big risk of quality impairments and marketing bans for our plastic packaging," EuPC President Renato Zelcher said in a news release.

"This would seriously jeopardize the economic existence of thousands of medium-sized plastics processors and packaging users in Europe and their investments into circularity," Zelcher said. "Circular Economy is a shared responsibility."

EuPC represents plastics processors, while PlasticsEurope represents resin suppliers.

Publication date: 09/09/2021

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Last update: 2022-01-31