The European Commission has welcomed “significant” voluntary commitments from the industry to advance plastics recycling, but said more that will be needed in the future.
The pledges have been made by players across the plastics value chain in response to the EU Plastics Strategy adopted early this year, which targets 100% recycling of all plastics packaging by 2030.
Giving its preliminary assessment of the voluntary pledge campaigns, the European Commission said 20 Nov that the commitments, if fully delivered, could supply over 10 million tonnes of recycled plastics by 2025.
However, on the demand side, only 5 million tonnes are expected so far, the Commission noted.
"To get to a circular plastics economy, it is essential that more recycled plastics find their way into new products,” added first vice-president Frans Timmermans, responsible for sustainable development.
At this stage, the EC will analyse what the next steps should be to boost the uptake of recycled plastics and close the gap between supply and demand, according to Timmermans.
Preliminary analysis also indicated that the pledges from recyclers should result in enough recycled plastics to reach the EU target by 2025.
A reliable supply of good quality material at competitive prices is, however, essential, to achieving a robust growth in demand.
“Further actions should therefore be envisaged to support an increased demand for recycled plastics,” the Commission advised.
Also welcoming the industry-wide commitments, vice-president Jyrki Katainen, responsible for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness, said the exercise showed that all parts of the value chain saw potential benefits in “rethinking plastics”.
To develop a well-functioning market for recycled plastics, the European Commission VP invited all relevant stakeholders to continue working with the EU.
The EC says it received over 60 voluntary pledges by the end of October and is now reviewing them to analyse their impact per plastic types on supply and demand aspects. The results of the detailed assessment will be published in the first quarter of 2019.
The main pledges received, according to the EC, came from plastics recyclers, industry associations for expanded polystyrene and brand owners mainly for PET packaging. The official pledging exercise announced in the Plastics Strategy is now closed.