Plastics recycling industry ‘Wish List’ for a rapid transition to a Circular Economy

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Courtesy of Axion Group

The producers of automobiles and electronics across Europe have been given the responsibility for the end-of-life capture, collection and recycling or recovery of the products that they put on the market. Under this Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation the focus is placed upon ‘polluter pays’ by making branded manufacturers and importers share the financial burden of the cost of collection and recycling. The current legislative measures have already placed high and ambitious targets on the percentage of end-of-life products that must be recycled or recovered.

However, this ‘arms-length’ approach to ‘for end-of-life’ has failed to create a circular flow of recycled materials back into new products. The disconnect between the return flow of materials – take-back, collection and recycling - and the design, procurement and sales of new durable products can be seen as the “missing link” in the Circular Economy.

This is particularly hampering the development of the new industry of Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) plastics from complex wastes from durable products such as cars and electronics.

Technology is available to produce compliant PCR plastics. However, legal initiatives and thresholds for particular substances change continuously. The recycling industry therefore calls for REALISTIC THRESHOLDS for substances of concern and for a continuous exchange of views between the legislator and the recycling industry if changes are planned, enabling the further development of the Circular Economy for PCR plastics in Europe.

Key players in the recycling sector have shared the following points as a ‘wish list’ of principles that are requested to be included in any new set of measures and legislative instruments put in place to help deliver a true circular economy.

The Recycling Industry Wish-List (For the Full Wish List Paper: https://goo.gl/nnyPPZ )

Procedures for the procurement and transboundary shipment of complex mixes of raw materials for the production of secondary raw materials by compliant recyclers should be made easier, quicker and cheaper. FAST-TRACK NOTIFICATION procedures should be developed to allow these compliant recyclers to get better access to these complex input materials from other countries within the EU.

Focus of any new measures should AIM AT PULLING THE DEMAND FOR Post-Consumer Recycled Plastics in order to convert the linear supply chain to a circular material flow model. This could take the form of:

  • Public Green Procurement rules to enforce a change towards products that contain well-defined quantities of PCR content.
  • Reward based incentives in the private sector – drive Member states to implement positive, reward-based drivers to make product manufacturers specify and use PCR plastics.

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