Global recycling trade organisation Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) has said that plastic recycling is an under-used waste management solution.
In a new report unveiled during its virtual convention week, called Recycling Plastics: Facts, Data and Policy Recommendations, BIR shows how recycling can play a major role in resolving the problems associated with plastics reaching the end of their useful lives.
With just 10% of the plastics ever produced ever having been recycled, BIR noted that even developed economies have plastic recycling rates only as high as 30%.
But the report shows that recycling is more environmentally efficient than landfill or incineration with energy recovery.
Researchers calculated that recycling uses up to 76% less energy compared to sending the same materials to landfill or incineration and making new products from scratch.
The report describes recycling as “a systematically under-used form of waste management” and calls on governments to set up favourable environments for plastic recycling and to increase the quantity of recyclables collected.
It also wants to see greater use of extended producer responsibility schemes, banning the use of prohibited chemicals in plastics, enforcing mandatory recycled content quotas and establishing clear end-of-waste criteria for recycled plastics to set high quality standards.
BIR Plastics Committee chair Henk Alssema said: “At BIR, we are very happy and proud to present this report to you. In a very clear and accessible way, it provides insight into how plastics recycling is organised.
“It also invites industry, manufacturers and governments to work together with the aim of closing the loops and propelling the recycling of plastics to an even higher level.”