Objective 30% recycled: threat or opportunity?
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle but also and above all Rethink and Redesign packaging
Since 2018, we in Eceplast have chosen to take this path, dedicating ourselves to the development of the RE//Liner range, aiming to be instigators and promoters of a necessary and urgent change.
Precisely from direct experience, we have learned that this is not an easy step to explain and communicate, much less to implement.
Suffice to look at how much uproar the PlasticsEurope press release has aroused in recent days at European level, in which the Association of European Plastics Manufacturers as well as underlining its clear position in favor of the EU Packaging Directive (PPWD), supporting the need to prevent and reduce excess packaging and packaging waste, also showed its willingness to promote the requirement of a minimum threshold of 30% recycled plastic in packaging by 2030.
Of course, PlasticsEurope tends to promote the actions of its members who have been planning for some time and making huge investments for the production of ever-increasing quantities of high-quality recycled plastic with cutting-edge technological solutions, especially chemical recycling, essential for achieving such a demanding objective. Over 2.6 billion Euros have already been allocated for up to 2025 and up to 7.2 billion Euros in 2030, but this is precisely one of the objectives of the European Green Deal, to activate private investments consistent with the vision of a sustainable economy.
However, while the industry leaders are adopting a behavior that is well orientated towards circularity, the intermediate industry, that of plastics transformers represented by the EUPC (European Plastic Converters) immediately expressed concern about the impact that this threshold of 30% can generate. The great difficulty reported is in finding high quality recycled raw materials. On closer inspection, this scarcity is induced by the presence of a still ineffective waste disposal and recycling system as well as by packaging that is not developed to be easily recycled and sometimes legislation that does not facilitate the task of those who would like to recycle: a dog chasing its tail.
The challenge of sustainability is global but also and above all shared. Each actor in the supply chain must, first of all, increase their own level of competency and pay attention to the entire life cycle of their products. The goal of 30% recycled materials in each new packaging can only really be achieved with a holistic approach. Europe is taking on the great burden of paving the way even in the knowledge that we are not the great polluter of the world; we hope, in the long run, that the effort of technological innovation and also the social and cultural ones that come from it, will be a real competitive advantage rather than an increase in direct costs for businesses and indirect costs for citizens.
Eceplast has embarked on this virtuous path early also thanks to the collaboration with some far-sighted clients who have accepted the challenge of key sustainability innovation. We were the first in the world to introduce Linerbags for containers made exclusively with PE, to be able to fully recycle them after use and generate new 30% recycled film without compromising the mechanical and food safety characteristics. ENI – Versalis was the first customer to tread this path with us and who is now already moving towards the threshold of 50% recycled.
There is no shortage of technical tools, legislative ones need to be refined and the culture of sharing objectives, values and results increased.
So, for us the answer to the question is clear: 30% recycled material is an opportunity but above all a bar to be raised to 50% as soon as possible!
We hope that the same awareness will grow in all our colleagues and in the legislator, who has the responsability to set goals but also to provide us with useful and consistent tools so that good intentions do not turn into heavy ballast benefitting unfair competition from outside the EU.
References and publications:
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