A new study by Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE) shows that a 65 per cent recycling target for plastic packaging is achievable by 2025. The study determines a set of measures and necessary tools through which the increased rates can be attained.
High recycling targets are essential in driving plastics towards circularity. The study gives a clear indication that an ambitious target is within reach.
However, an ambitious target needs to be further strengthened via specific measures to drive quality. Separate collection, enhanced sorting and design for recycling are among the key factors to enable transition.
The study also identifies measures required to achieve this target. These are linked to different stages of the plastics value chain and concern: product design phase, waste collection, waste exports, sorting and recycling and end-use.
Blueprint for plastics packaging waste: Quality sorting & recycling
Among other aspects, the importance of design for recycling at the manufacturing stage is emphasised. Harmonised guidelines would improve recyclability of plastics packaging put on the market and at the same time reduce sorting and recycling costs.
In addition, enhanced collection and sorting schemes of plastic packaging waste across the EU are imperative to drive quality recycling.
All the measures outlined in the study need to be further complemented with strong communication across the entire plastics value chain and a firm legislative push.
With the implementation and fulfilment of the proposed actions, quality of input materials and recyclates would be improved, supplies stabilised, and higher uptake of recycled materials assured. Increased quality of recycled material would consequently raise consumers’ confidence.
Achieving the 65 per cent plastic packaging recycling target would translate into an additional 12 million tonnes of recyclates.
"Growing awareness of consumers, engagement of brand owners and positive environmental effects induced by circular economy model have already created an environment, capable of accelerating plastics recycling"
In order to sustain these supplies, the use of recycled materials in the production of new products must increase in all applications. Conclusively, new as well as niche sectors will need to be further penetrated.
In parallel, substantial environmental, social and economic benefits would derive from the increased plastic packaging recycling rates, as illustrated by the study. Substitution of virgin by recycled plastics would result in savings of CO2 emissions of 80 per cent.
Furthermore, 115.400 new jobs would be created, and an extra one billion euros of economic benefit generated.
Growing awareness of consumers, engagement of brand owners and positive environmental effects induced by circular economy model have already created an environment, capable of accelerating plastics recycling. Different stakeholders have to make sure these efforts are continued.
Findings of the study and the entailed environmental, economic and societal benefits are clear indicators as to why the legislators should strongly pursue the ambitious target, encouraging circularity of plastics.