European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy

21 Jun European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy

EU strategy for plastics

Every year, Europeans generate 25 million tonnes of plastic waste, but less than 30% is collected for recycling. According to estimates, only 5% of the value of plastic packaging material retains in the economy, the rest is lost after a very short first-use.

 

The European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy was adopted on January 16, 2018. It will transform the way plastic products are designed, used, produced and recycled in the EU. Better design of plastic products, higher plastic waste recycling rates, more and better quality recyclates will help boosting the market for recycled plastics.

 

This will have a great effect on the FMCG and the packaging industry. The industries need to pay more attention to the recyclability of their packaging as well as the packaging materials chosen. More attention needs to be given to the environmental impacts on the course of the entire life cycle of the packaging including the recycling after use. The new recycling targets are high and there is a lot to be done before being able to meet the targets.

 

Amerplast has being keeping a close eye on the development in the EU level and has been preparing for this new era of plastic packaging by developing new packaging solutions that are either made from renewable or recycled raw materials and are fully recyclable in a single waste stream.

 

Under the new strategy, the European Union will:

 

  • Make recycling profitable for business: New rules on packaging will be developed to improve the recyclability of plastics used on the market and increase the demand for recycled plastic content. With more plastic being collected, improved and scaled up recycling facilities should be set up, alongside a better and standardised system for the separate collection and sorting of waste across the EU. This will save around a hundred euros per tonne collected. It will also deliver greater added value for a more competitive, resilient plastics industry.
  • Make recycling profitable for business: New rules on packaging will be developed to improve the recyclability of plastics used on the market and increase the demand for recycled plastic content. With more plastic being collected, improved and scaled up recycling facilities should be set up, alongside a better and standardised system for the separate collection and sorting of waste across the EU. This will save around a hundred euros per tonne collected. It will also deliver greater added value for a more competitive, resilient plastics industry.
  • Curb plastic waste: European legislation has already led to a significant reduction in plastic bag use in several Member States. The new plans will now turn to other single-use plastics and fishing gear, supporting national awareness campaigns and determining the scope of new EU-wide rules to be proposed in 2018 based on stakeholder consultation and evidence. The Commission will also take measures to restrict the use of microplastics in products, and fix labels for biodegradable and compostable plastics.
  • Stop littering at sea: New rules on port reception facilities will tackle sea-based marine litter, with measures to ensure that waste generated on ships or gathered at sea is not left behind but returned to land and adequately managed there. Also included are measures to reduce the administrative burden on ports, ships and competent authorities.
  • Drive investment and innovation: The Commission will provide guidance for national authorities and European businesses on how to minimise plastic waste at source. Support for innovation will be scaled up, with an additional €100 million financing the development of smarter and more recyclable plastics materials, making recycling processes more efficient, and tracing and removing hazardous substances and contaminants from recycled plastics.
  • Spur change across the world: As the European Union does its own homework, we will also work with partners from around the world to come up with global solutions and develop international standards. We will also continue to support others, as we have done with the clean-up of the Ganga River in India.

 

What will change for the plastics packaging and FMCG industry?

 

By 2030 all plastic packaging should be designed to be recyclable or reusable. To achieve this, the Commission will work on a revision of the legislative requirements for placing packaging on the market. The revision process will focus on defining the concept of design for recyclability. The goal is to decrease the quantity of waste generated and to avoid that these materials end up as litter, are incinerated or are landfilled where can be recycled. This also includes the issue of over-packaging.

 

One of the reasons for the low use of recycled plastics is the misgivings of many product brands and manufacturers, who fear that recycled plastics will not meet their needs for a reliable, high-volume supply of materials with constant quality specifications. The Commission will work with the European Committee for Standardisation and with the industry to develop quality standards for sorted plastic waste and recycled plastics.

 

The Commission will work with packaging producers to help them be more sustainable and circular (e.g. life cycle assessment methodology) and to incentivise and award innovation and smart design choices (e.g. through more harmonised and efficient Extended Producer Responsibility schemes).

 

The Commission invites the plastics industry to take an active part in the process and to continue to further support innovation in this domain through a pledging exercise which is being launched by the strategy and aims to see 10 million tonnes of recycled plastics in new products by 2025.

 

What is changing for the recycling?

 

About two-thirds of plastic waste comes from packaging. The Commission aims to increase plastic recycling and for all plastic packaging to be reusable or recyclable by 2030.

 

Today’s situation where 31% of plastic waste goes to landfill and 39% to incineration means loss of precious resources and is not acceptable. This will require investment in collection, sorting and recycling infrastructure; and improving the traceability of materials and substances in materials so that the correct recycling technology can be applied.

 

Recycling targets for plastic packaging

EU's recycling targets

Meeting these targets in practice will need improvements in the way plastics are designed and produced, increased cooperation between all actors involved in their life cycle. The systems for waste management need to modernise too.

 

Changes in the calculation methods have being introduced: Recycling rejects in other words waste that has been returned to a recycling point but is unrecyclable in the existing recycling processes can no longer be included to the recycling rate figures.

 

The targets laid down in Directive 94/62/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council 13 for the recovery and recycling of packaging and packaging waste should be amended by increasing the preparing for re-use and recycling of packaging waste in order to better reflect the Union’s ambition to move towards a circular economy. Such other measures may consist of national programmes, incentives through extended producer responsibility schemes to minimise the environmental impact of packaging or similar actions adopted, if appropriate, in consultation with economic operators, and designed to bring together and take advantage of the many initiatives taken within Member States as regards prevention.

 

Further information about the strategy >>

 

Source: European Comission (http://ec.europa.eu/) 2018