Coalition Calls For Binding Recycled Content Targets in Beverage Bottles

A coalition (see below) of industry organisations and environmental NGOs are urging the European Council to support the binding target of at least 35% recycled plastic in beverage bottles by 2025.

This target, voted by the European Parliament on 24 October, is “instrumental” in the achievement of the objectives of the Single Use Plastics (SUP) Directive and in igniting the “much supported” transition towards a more circular economy, the coalition says.

It also says it would be a “historical step”,correcting a “muchoverdue market failure” to not value recycled material more while unlocking much needed investment in collection and recycling.

In July 2018, a broad coalition of 34 industry organisations, local authorities and environmental NGOs released a statement, underlining the necessity to introduce requirements for mandatory minimum recycled content targets for plastics. Under the framework of the SUP Directive, the a mend ment adopted by the European Parliament setting a 35% target of recycled plastic content in beverage bottles by 2025 is a vital, and absolutely achievable, step towardscircularity.

“Until now, no measures have been taken at the EU level to pull the demand for recycled materials and complete the second half of the cycle in a more  circular economy, unfortunately an unfulfilled ambition of the revised waste package.”

In a statement, it said: “Of the 25.8m tonnes  of  plastic waste  generated in Europe every year, less than 30% of such  waste  is collected  for  recycling. Demand  for recycled  plastics  today accounts  for only around 6% of plastics demand in Europe. Among the numerous negative impacts, failing to collect plastic waste directly contributes to the loss of valuable resources, leaving Europe in a vulnerable position, unable to meet demand without sufficient flows of input materials.

This is the case for recyclers of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) drinking bottles in Europe, whose recycling capacity exceeds the amount of waste currently processed. There is – looking at the material wasted/dumped/littered today – substantial room for capacity increase provided the regulatory framework offers the certainty needed for recyclers toinvest.

“Setting a mandatory recycled plastic target for beverage bottles, where food safety considerations are fully complied with, will immediately have positive knock-on effects on improving and increasing the collection rate of these SUP and is hence vital in achieving the 90% collection target set by the Proposal.”

The minimum target of 35% for recycled plastic in beverage bottles voted by the European Parliament is a key contributor, as acknowledged in the report, for the creation of a steady market for recyclates, and will ensure a more circular use of plastics.

According to the coalition, together with the need to better design packaging items so that they are fully recyclable, this recycled content target will send the strong signal needed:

  • To boost the offer of recyclable plastics and the demand of recycled
  • To provide operators with the necessary certainty they need to make significant investments in recycling technologies. Indeed, up to € 10 billion worth of investments will be needed in the waste management and recycling sector to innovate and expand the separate collection, sorting and recycling capacity for all plastics at EU
  • To take advantage of China’s import restrictions on plastic waste by making Europe the leader in fighting marine litter from SUP thanks to measures closing the entire plastics loop, namely: prevention, propermanagement, recycling and use of recycled content in plastic beverage.

The joint statement says: “Until now, no measures have been taken at the EU level to pull the demand for recycled materials and complete the second half of the cycle in a more  circular economy, unfortunately an unfulfilled ambition of the revised waste package.

“Over the last decades, European legislation has predominantly focused on the (waste) supply side by setting collection and recycling targets, if we aim to increase plastics recycling further that will not be enough going forward.

“This proposal is a monumental change and is vital in the making of a more circular EU legislation. Please do not waste it!”

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  1. I think the main issue is that the EU market is structurally deficient and too culturally diverse to accept these disciplines. Recycling plastics is inhernatly a very dirty and labour intensiive process. Nobody wants recycling in their neighbourhood or wishes to work in these dirty environments at low pay.
    It would be much more logical for these investments to be effected in those 3rd party countries where EU is already comfortable to send their mixed plastics wastes,and allow these countries to work on behalf of EU to clean and reprocess these plastics, provide employment and enhance their commercial activiites with EU partners in a more sustainable way.

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