Plastics Strategy Still Has “Room for Improvement”

In light of the ENVI Committee’s upcoming vote on the Plastics Strategy, due tomorrow, FEAD – the EU private waste and resource management industry organisation – has welcomed MEP Mark Demesmaeker’s draft own-initiative report.

However, FEAD would like to highlight crucial points that need to be touched upon in order for the Plastics Strategy to be fully effective. It says that transforming the vision of a new plastics economy into reality will require joined efforts throughout the entire plastics value chain. Plastic products need to be designed for recycling; this will not only improve the economics, but also the quality of plastics recycling.

Up to €10bn worth of investments will be needed to innovate and expand the separate collection, sorting and recycling capacity at EU level, FEAD stated, adding: “Our industry is prepared to make the necessary investments if there are legislative measures ensuring a significant uptake of plastic recyclates; which is becoming even more necessary by the minute in view of the Chinese ban on imports of certain waste streams”.

“A strong demand for recycled plastics will only result from concrete binding actions accompanied by economic measures to bridge the price gap detrimental to plastics from recyclates,” it said. FEAD members welcome the amendments calling for mandatory rules on recycled content which will stimulate the demand for secondary materials and therefore help drive the necessary investment in collection, sorting and recycling. From this perspective, FEAD supports the idea of a reduced VAT for products with recycled content, which will allow recycled plastics to compete with virgin polymers.

Quality standards, as an additional tool to further build trust and demand for the use of recycled plastics, should only be introduced in parallel with binding recycled content measures. This would ensure that investments for achieving higher quality standards will be economically justified.

Ultimately, accelerating work on the interface between chemicals, waste and product policies is necessary to build confidence in recycled plastics in view of manufacturers’ needs for reliable quality and supply. Moreover, design for recycling and better-quality information on the presence of substances of concern will optimise the work of waste operators and ensure safe recycling.

For further information please find attached a more detailed report and/or please contact the FEAD Secretariat at info@fead.be.

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  1. From a UK consumer perspective, recycling is rarely if ever based on the plastics categorisation, i.e. the 1,2,3,4,5, or 6 labelling each plastic comes with. Improving consumer awareness and utilising this labelling can help the quality of plastics recycling. Manufacturers must respond too, by producing only plastics which can be recycled.

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