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 European Union's Plastics Strategy, adopted early this year, which targets 100 percent recycling of all plastics packaging by 2030.
In its preliminary assessment of the voluntary pledge campaigns, the European Commission said Nov. 20 that the commitments, if fully delivered, could supply over 10 million metric tons of recycled plastics by 2025.
But 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 Frans Timmermans, the EC's first vice president, responsible for sustainable development.
At this stage, the EC will analyze 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 essential, to achieving a robust growth in demand.
“Further actions should therefore be envisaged to support an increased demand for recycled plastics,” the EC advised in its report.
Also welcoming the industrywide 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, Katainen invited all relevant stakeholders to continue working with the EU.
The commission says it received more than 60 voluntary pledges by the end of October and is now reviewing them to assess 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 bulk of the pledges came from plastics recyclers, industry associations for expanded polystyrene and brand owners for PET packaging.