European plastics trade associations have said they welcome the publication of the European Commission’s (EC) new Circular Economy package as a “step closer” to resource efficiency, however, more needs to be done.
The EC proposal introduces a gradual limitation of the landfilling of municipal waste to 10 percent by 2030 of total municipal waste generated.
“The European plastics industry has been calling for a legally binding landfill restriction on all recyclable as well as other recoverable post-consumer waste by 2025. Although a 10 percent target constitutes a step in the right direction, it remains a timid attempt to put an end to the landfilling of all waste which can be used a resource,” explained Karl-H. Foerster, Executive Director of PlasticsEurope.
PlasticsEurope considers the new 2025 recycling and preparation for re-use target of 55 percent for plastic packaging waste as an “extremely ambitious objective” since the average plastics packaging recycling rate in Europe was under 40 percent in 2014 – according to the latest data.
It says the implications of a combined target, as well as the new calculation method, are currently unclear. According to a recent study carried out by the Denkstatt Group, the optimum level for plastic packaging recycling, using today’s technology as well as the current calculation method, lies between 35 percent and 50 percent, depending on the country’s collection, sorting and recycling capacities.
Speaking on the proposal, EuPC Managing Director, Alexandre Dangis, stated: “EuPC was hoping for more clarity and harmonisation of the EU waste acquis across EU 28 Member States, however, we fail to see a harmonised approach in the package and we therefore question the level of ambition of this new proposal on provisions on landfilling, EPR schemes and end‐of‐waste criteria.”
The proposal, EuPC said, needs more clarity on the difference between recycling and reuse and the calculation methodology, which “remains ambiguous”.
Agreeing, Director General of the British Plastics Federation, Philip Law, said: “The EU proposals certainly raise detailed issues which will need serious debate with the regulators before they settle into a final form, such as the integration of targets for re-use and recycling, and the precise point at which recycling is measured. We also fear that the provision on extended producer responsibility could introduce a new cost for manufacturers.”
Law said he welcomed the Commission’s intention to adopt a Strategy on Plastics, due for completion in 2017.
“We hope that the strategy for plastics, which is due for completion by 2017, recognises the full benefits of which plastics bring to society and the absolutely essential role plastics will play in innovative manufacture in the 21st century. This is an industry which the EU needs to encourage and not deflate,” Law concluded.