The last meeting of the European Council ended with decisions that will have major implications for the plastics processing industry, writes Tomasz Mikulski, of ML Polyolefins.
In his view, the new tax of € 0.80 per kilogram of non-recyclable plastic packaging waste provides a significant impulse for many manufacturers to adjust their policies. Implementing the new tax on 1 January 2021 will make it necessary to quickly adapt to new realities.
The decision of the European Council clearly indicates the direction of the EU's policy: to maximize the recovery of plastics already in circulation, says Tomasz Mikulski, president of ML Polyolefins. The decision forces processors to make rational decisions regarding packaging designs, and will certainly contribute to the elimination of those that process non-recyclable ones.
This tax aims to mobilize EU Member States to take more decisive actions to implement the concept of the Circular Economy.
For some industries, such a short deadline for implementing the new levy may be a significant complication. While some companies have already taken major steps in terms of redefining their product portfolio, others have shrugged the problem aside. For these companies, time is running out.
ML Polyolefins, a producer of polyolefin regranulates based in Poland that has a processing capacity of 25,000 metric tons per year, has for some time observed that interest in its services is on the rise. The company receives many inquiries about the verification of individual products in terms of their recyclability.
Especially for large companies with a wide assortment, switching and minimizing the amount of unprocessed raw materials can be a big challenge. ML Polymers conduct audits on an ongoing basis at the request of its contractors to verify the possibilities of rational plastics resource management.
The new tax is expected to help reduce the amount of single-use plastic waste. Yet the problems may easily lie elsewhere.
As Mikulski writes: “I have been active in this market for two decades and I can see that the problem of wrong sorting is still a big issue. Better sorting is vital to ensure a secure supply of recyclable plastic waste. Contaminated non-recyclable waste is an obstacle to the production of high-quality recyclates.
We suffer from a lack of institutional support or development for the implementation of a Circular Economy project. For some time now, we've heard about plans to implement the EPR, but such initiatives must be taken together with new legislation, such as the latest conclusions of the European Council.
A second issue is demand: there are many who are still doubtful about the suitability of secondary materials for production.
Generally, we are better prepared for recycling in Poland. Today's technology is also our ally, because it allows the production of really high-quality recyclates with stable parameters. Today, we can compete with original material in many fields, where recyclate is a realistic alternative.
On the other hand, the issue of throughput capacity and the market's ability to absorb the increased amount of waste are quite another topic.
One thing is certain — the demand for good quality regranulate remains at a high level and the most technologically advanced companies will have no problems with marketing and distribution.”