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Event summary report – Plastics and circularity: closing the plastics loop, December 9th 2021

Key takeawaysAmbitious targets have been set for recycled content in plastic products. Achieving them will depend on multi-stakeholder collaboration and enabling regulation.

The information for product life-cycle analysis is available. Interpreting it and taking action reduces those products’ environmental impact.

Chemical recycling complements but does not replace mechanical recycling. Achieving a circular economy for plastics will take a holistic approach involving multiple stakeholders and tools.

Designing for recyclability is crucial. Optimising the design of products and packaging can reduce waste and harm while enabling increased recycling and reuse.

Circularity goes beyond the value chain. Manufacturers, retailers, brand owners, policymakers, consumers, NGOs, academia, converters, waste collectors and recyclers must work together to ensure plastics return to the start of the loop.

European plastics producers are committed to the Circular Plastics Alliance target of using 10m tonnes of recycled plastics in European products by 2025. They support the European Commission’s intention to set up a mandatory recycled content target for plastics packaging and have recently called for a 30% target by 2030. Reaching these targets will take collaboration between policymakers and the value chain, along with an enabling policy framework.

Given the importance to the health of our oceans of reducing waste from discarded plastics, on December 9th 2021, as part of the lead-up to the 9th World Ocean Summit next March, Economist Impact convened a panel of leaders in the making, consumption, recycling and regulation of plastics to discuss how a circular economy for this material can be achieved. Moderated by Melanie Noronha, a senior editor at Economist Impact, and sponsored by Plastics Europe, “Plastics and Circularity: Closing the Plastics Loop” examined how new technologies and practices can transform recycling and speed progress towards ambitious targets.

“Plastics and circularity – closing the plastics loop” highlights video

Delivering the benefits of plastics without the environmental impactBenny Mermans, vice-president of Plastics Europe and vice-president for sustainability at Chevron Phillips Chemical, began by observing that the plastics industry is committed to reducing both waste and its carbon footprint. To support the transformations involved, “we need policy and regulation which promotes and incentivises investment in innovation and infrastructure along the value chain,” he said.

In March 2020 the European Commission (EC) adopted the new Circular Economy Action Plan as part of the European Green Deal. This follows the European Union (EU) The event summary is available hereDownloadVirginia Janssens, Managing Director of Plastics Europe and Patricia Vangheluwe, Circularity Director, Plastics Europe recently contributed to the Economist Plastics Management Index Report, a project of the Economist Intelligence Unit in collaboration with The Nippon Foundation.

Publication date: 21/12/2021

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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: 2022-01-31