Report says EU can meet target of 55% recyclable packaging by 2030

plastic packaging

Philanthropic organisation Minderoo Foundation and multinational advisory firm KPMG have released new analysis that “raises hope” that the EU can still meet the target of 55% recyclable packaging by 2030 but to do so will require a 20bn EUR upgrade of the whole waste-to-material value chain.

Minderoo Foundation says the value chain requires infrastructure for mixed waste sorting, high-quality sorting, advanced mechanical recycling and chemical recycling. It continues that the EU is set to underperform on plastics recycling, where currently only 11% of postconsumer plastics are recycled.

Meanwhile, ‘on-par’ (product-to-product) plastic recycling is limited to 2-3%. Minderoo Foundation says that current industry efforts to develop a circular plastics economy are “woefully insufficient” due mainly to long-standing structural challenges throughout the value chain.

The report recommends that systems that enable the collection, separation, and recycling of different types of plastic must be established at scale to reach EU targets. It also says the resulting increase in capacity would be enough to produce a “more significant” amount of high-quality recycled plastic but only if an end-to-end system upgrade happens.

Changing how we produce and use plastics and manage plastic materials after use must be the focus of effort right now.

Among the key issues identified in the report are only half of the post-consumer plastic waste is being collected for recycling; two-thirds of the plastic waste collected and sorted is not recycled in Europe, instead, it is incinerated, landfilled, or exported; and plastic that is recycled in the EU, is often limited in quality and quantity.

The co-authors estimate that this will require EUR 20 billion in additional funding. The report recommends that EU and national policies must level the playing field for mixed waste sorting and that Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes must compensate mixed waste sorting for plastics by default, as shown in the examples of Denmark and the Netherlands.

Chairman of Sea The Future, pioneered by Minderoo Foundation, Mark Barnaba, said: “Smarter infrastructure needs to be built, investments need to be made, and policies introduced to set the conditions for the entire value chain to act.

“Changing how we produce and use plastics and manage plastic materials after use must be the focus of effort right now. We urgently need to reduce dependency on virgin plastic and re-imagine plastic ‘waste’ as a valuable commodity.”

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