BRUSSELS, Sept. 20, 2019 (Press Release) -Today, more than 100 public and private partners covering the whole plastics value chain will sign the declaration of the Circular Plastics Alliance, which promotes voluntary actions for a well-functioning EU market in recycled plastics.
The declaration lays out how the alliance will reach the target of 10 million tons of recycled plastic used to make new products every year in Europe, by 2025. This target was set by the European Commission in its 2018 Plastics Strategy, as part of its efforts to boost plastics recycling in Europe.
First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, responsible for sustainable development, said: “I welcome the industry's commitments to rethink the way we produce and use plastics. By efficiently recycling plastics, we will clean up the planet and fight climate change, by substituting fossil fuels with plastic waste in the production cycle.”
Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: “We have the opportunity to make our industry a world leader in recycled plastics. We should fully seize it to protect the environment, to create new jobs in this sector and remain competitive.”
The declaration, signed by small and medium businesses, large corporations, business associations, standardisers, research organisations, and local and national authorities endorses the 10 million tons target and calls for a shift to zero plastic waste in nature and zero landfilling. It lays out concrete actions to reach the target, including:
- improving the design of plastic products to make them more recyclable and integrate more recycled plastics;
- identifying untapped potential for more plastic waste collection, sorting and recycling across the EU, as well as the investment gaps;
- building a Research & Development agenda for circular plastics;
- establishing a transparent and reliable monitoring system to track all flows of plastic waste in the EU.
The declaration of the Alliance will remain open for signature on the Commission's website for more signatories to join over time, in particular public authorities from all across Europe.
In the EU, the potential for recycling plastic waste is still largely unexploited, particularly in comparison with other materials like paper, glass or metals. Out of over 27 million tons of plastic waste collected in Europe every year, less than one third goes to recycling plants. As a result, in 2016, less than 4 million tons of recycled plastics were sold in Europe, accounting for barely 8% of the EU market for plastics. By endorsing the EU target of 10 million tons of recycled plastics sold in the EU by 2025, the Circular Plastics Alliance commits to helping boost the EU market for recycled plastics by more than 150%.
The European Commission announced the launch of the Circular Plastics Alliance on 11 December 2018.The launch of the Alliance followed the preliminary assessment of industry voluntary pledges for more recycled plastics. It showed that pledges from suppliers of recycled plastics were sufficient to reach and even exceed the EU target of 10 million tons of recycled plastics used in Europe by 2025. However, pledges received from users of recycled plastics (such as plastics converters and manufacturers) were not sufficient, and action was necessary to bridge the gap between the supply and demand.
The Circular Plastics Alliance held its first meeting on 5 February 2019 at the European Industry Days. The participants agreed to work together along the plastics value chains to reach the target that 10 million tons of recycled plastics are used in products in the EU by 2025. They agreed to work on five topics as a priority:
- collection and sorting of plastic waste;
- product design for recycling;
- recycled plastic content in products;
- R&D and investments, including chemical recycling; and
- monitoring of recycled plastics in the EU.
Working groups were set up immediately to work on concrete solutions and met during the spring of 2019 to draft the declaration signed today.