The European Commission (EC) has given a preliminary assessment following an EU-wide pledging campaign, which has shown that EU industry is committed to recycling plastics.
According to the EC, this commitment could lead to at least 10 million tonnes of recycled plastics being supplied by 2025 if the pledges are fully delivered.
However, it said that on the demand side, only five million tonnes are expected so far, showing that more will be needed to achieve the objective of a well-functioning EU market of recycled plastics.
EC First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “To get to a circular plastics economy, it is essential that more recycled plastics find their way into new products. While we are very grateful for the variety of contributions, we received from different industry representatives, more needs to be done. We will now analyse which should be the next steps to further boost the uptake of recycled plastics and close the gap between supply and demand. This is not only necessary for safeguarding our natural environment but also good for our economy as Europe leads the way.”
By the end of October, the Commission received over 60 pledges and is now reviewing them in more detail to identify their impact per plastic types on supply and demand aspects.
The main pledges received came from plastics recyclers, industry associations for expanded polystyrene and brand owners mainly for PET packaging, said the EC.
Preliminary analysis showed that pledges from recyclers would give enough recycled plastics to reach the EU target by 2025
However, as the demand for recycled plastics may increase if high-quality material becomes available in stable amounts and at competitive prices, the EU said that this demand needs developing, and further actions should be established to support it.
EC Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said: “The pledging exercise clearly shows that a big part of the European industry is committed to use plastics in a more sustainable manner. Rethinking plastics is seen as potentially beneficial by all participants of the value chain, from waste collectors and recyclers to producers and converters to brand-owners. To be able to reap benefits in full, we need to develop a well-functioning market for recycled plastics. To this end we invite all relevant stakeholders to continue our joint work.”
From this, the Commission will analyse the pledges in more detail and publish the results in the first quarter of 2019, with the hope that it will help find any gaps between supply and demand for the various plastic types, and guide future actions.
The European Federation of Waste Management and Environmental Services, FEAD, has added that the five million tonnes on the demand side are expected, and proves that pledges are not enough, with more concrete action needed in the form of legislation.
It stated that “it is now more important than ever for a target of 35% recycled plastic in beverage bottles to become mandatory by 2025”.