The brand-new, highly ambitious European Plastics Pact — the first regional pact to join the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's global Plastic Pact network — cannot count the European Plastics Converters association among its supporters.
In a statement, EuPC announced it would not sign the pact "for many reasons."
Launched March 6 in Brussels, the pact was initiated by the French Ministry of the Ecological and Solidary Transition, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food, in consultation with more than 80 organizations from across Europe and with the support of WRAP.
A EuPC spokesperson told Sustainable Plastics, a sister publication of Plastics News, that the pact, as an initiative, is a "duplication of work." EuPC has many members who have already joined the Circular Plastics Alliance launched by the European Commission in December 2018. That initiative, undertaken within the scope of the 2018 European Strategy for plastics, was aimed at helping plastics value chains boost the EU market for recycled plastics to 10 million metric tons by 2025.
The European Plastics Pact is far too focused on single-use plastics packaging issues, according to EuPC. Dutch authorities are especially keen to advance efforts to tackle that issue at a faster pace and with more ambitious goals than existing European initiatives, perhaps even at the expense of other problems, such as landfilling.
While this new pact provides a list of objectives concerning reduction targets, minimum recycled content and increased recycling targets, it fails to include any commitment to solve the ever-present landfill problem, the association said.
In Europe, there is a ban in place, but it is not being correctly implemented or enforced by the member states. It would have been "good" had the pact included a reference to this issue, the spokesperson stressed.
Hence, calling the signatories of the pact "pioneers" of the industry and the "most committed governments" amounts more or less to a cheap shot.
Alexandre Dangis, EuPC managing director, said "pioneering countries are countries that have abandoned landfilling plastics waste that can be recycled, and this is not the case for certain signatories of this new pact. A direct link with Industry Ministries to assess the impacts on the competitiveness of the plastics industry in Europe threatening many jobs is missing, but maybe the Circular Plastics Alliance will help to create this assessment."
EuPC completely understands that plastic waste and marine litter must be addressed, but "quick fixes cannot give long-term solutions. Reducing plastic single-use items or increasing recycling targets cannot resolve the issues such as mismanagement of waste or bad behaviors," Dangis argued.
In view of these considerations, EuPC decided it would not sign the European Plastics Pact. The association attended the official launch of the pact and will keep on monitoring its evolution over the years to come to ensure that "there is no duplication of efforts," pointedly expressing the wish for "real industrial pioneers to lead the way in a constructive manner for Europe."