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EU sets 2030 deadline for plastic recycling

January 17, 2018

The European Commission is taking a firm stance on the recycling of waste plastics and the recyclable nature of packaging.

According to the Financial Times, in order to encourage the implementation of a circular economy, “Brussels wants to create an EU market for waste plastic and make all such packaging in the bloc recyclable by 2030”.

The European Commission’s Vice President for Jobs and Growth, Jyrki Katainen, revealed that currently a mere 6 percent of plastics were being recycled, although “common quality standards would increase the amount of material that industry could reuse.”

“We don’t have well-functioning plastic waste markets, [because] the quality standards are different and the supply of recycled plastic is smaller than it could be,” he said.

In order to help meet its new targets, the Commission will channel €100 million into “new technologies and innovations”, and will implement restrictions on “so-called microplastics” of under 5mm, as well as proposing strategies to reduce single-use plastic items.  

Legally binding proposals are expected to be issued to the Parliament and member states in May.

According to Mr Katainen, Europe currently produces an annual total of 25 million tonnes of plastic waste, two-thirds of which come from packaging. Because a mere 5 percent of the “value of the output” is recovered, the economy suffers a yearly loss of between €70 billion and €105 billion.

The new binding target states that 55 percent of plastic packaging must be recycled by the bloc by 2030, a strategy “welcomed” by environmental organisations. However, Delphine Lévi Alvarès, from Rethink Plastic Alliance, explained that laws were needed “to drastically reduce the consumption of both single-use plastic items and packaging within this commission’s term”. 



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