EU says industry’s plastic recycling pledges fall short

While the Commission welcomed the voluntary pledges made so far, it believes more needs to be done

The Big Zero report

Picture of a facility with plastics ready to be recycled.

The European Commission says businesses should be doing more to boost the market for recycled plastics.

While it welcomed the voluntary pledges made by industry so far, the Commission believes the commitments fall short.

More than 60 pledges were made under the European Plastics Strategy launched in January this year – the EU’s preliminary assessment found at least 10 million tons of recycled plastics could be supplied by 2025 if the pledges are fully delivered.

However, on the demand side, which covers retailers using recycled material, there have been pledges to use only five million tonnes of recycled plastic.

The main pledges came from plastics recyclers, industry associations for expanded polystyrene and brand owners mainly for PET (polyethylene terephthalate) packaging.

The analysis indicates the commitments from recyclers would give enough recycled plastics to reach the EU target by 2025, however, as demand for recycled plastics may increase quickly if good quality material becomes available, the demand for recycled plastics needs developing based on the current pledges.

First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, responsible for sustainable development said: “To get to a circular plastics economy, it is essential that more recycled plastics find their way into new products. While we are very grateful for the variety of contributions we received from different industry representations, more needs to be done.

“We will now analyse which should be the next steps to further boost the uptake of recycled plastics and close the gap between supply and demand. This is not only necessary for safeguarding our natural environment but also good for our economy as Europe leads the way.”

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