DS Smith warn that EU reuse proposals could lead to much more plastic use

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UK mill group DS Smith has warned that European Union proposals to have reuse targets on all materials could lead to more plastic being used.

According to independent, peer-reviewed analysis commissioned by the European Federation of Corrugated Board Manufacturers, mandatory reuse targets applied to all materials would increase the amount of plastic packaging in circulation and establish a monopoly in some market segments.

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DS Smith gave the example of the transport and e-commerce corrugated cardboard packaging categories where reuse targets would lead to 8.1 billion new plastic crates weighing 12 million tonnes would be needed to meet a reuse target of 90% by 2040. This would then require 16 billion litres of water to wash these.

The company warned that this would penalise cardboard packaging, which is currently the most widely recycled packaging material.

DS Smith group head of strategy & innovation Alex Manisty said: “We support the aims of the Green Deal and the new legislation, but amendments that mandate reuse targets for paper & cardboard would compromise the EU corrugated cardboard industry, embed a plastic economy into the market, and hold us back on climate change.

“Recycling and reuse both have a role to play in packaging circularity and should be complementary. Reuse systems should be used where beneficial for the environment, economy and society.

“Imposing mandatory reuse targets would only benefit the plastic industry. The Commission recognised this by deliberately excluding corrugated cardboard from most of the mandatory reuse targets. We call on the European Parliament and member states to do the same.”