ZWE calls for proportional allocation of recycled content plastics



A new study by Zero Waste Europe (ZWE) claims that proportional allocation of recycled content plastics has the lowest impact on the “level-playing field” and the largest potential environmental benefits.

Officially launched and presented during a webinar, the “Impacts of allocation rules chemical recycling – impact on environment and maximum circularity of plastics” study calculated the impact of the different allocation rules regarding the “environment, material circularity and level playing field” in the recycling landscape.

The study found that proportional allocation leads to greater transparency in the plastic recycling market by reducing ambiguity about recycled content in plastic outputs. It also stated that proportional allocation reduces the risk of long-loop chemical recycling dominating the market.

According to the study, a larger share of thermo-chemical technologies results in lower environmental benefits and reduced maximum recycling rates.

The study also suggests that, in the event the European Commission chooses polymers-only or fuel-exempt allocation, a cap of 12.5% to 25% on chemical recycling may be “necessary” to prevent it from outcompeting mechanical recycling.

Using the mass-balance chain of custody for recycled content claims must always be a last resort.

ZWE has urged the European Commission to take into account the study’s findings on allocation rules and recycled content targets for plastics in their upcoming files.

The organisation wants the Commission to use “batch level” mass balance to determine recycled content, use proportional allocation to evenly allocate the recycled content to output products when using mass balance, consider capping chemical recovery and enact regulation to ensure that mechanical recycling remains the primary option.

Lauriane Veillard, ZWE’s Chemical Recycling and Plastic-to-Fuel Policy Officer, commented: “Using the mass-balance chain of custody for recycled content claims must always be a last resort and based on proportional allocation.

“Otherwise, these claims will promote greenwashing, and undermine the circular economy and climate agenda. Chemical recovery technologies, i.e. pyrolysis and gasification, should be limited to the bare minimum to avoid a lock-in effect similar to incineration.”

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