The European plastic recycling industry is at a crossroads, hard hit by dwindling demand for recycled polymers, European Recycling Industries’ Confederation (EuRIC) warns. The umbrella group considers "the lack of manufactures’ commitment to introduce recycled material in new products and the growing imports from third countries" to be the main obstacles to developing a circular economy for plastic waste in Europe. In what it describes as a "defining moment" for plastic recycling, EuRIC says policymakers must respond with "decisive and bold policy measures".
"European plastic recyclers are currently operating well below their full capacity due to insufficient demand. This situation calls into question investments made by European recyclers to meet carbon-neutrality and circularity targets, as well as recycler’s future ability to invest more," commented Sophie Sicard, president of EPRB, EuRIC’s Plastics Recycling Branch.
Among the measures EuRIC recommends are pragmatic mandatory EU recycled content targets for plastics, intended to stimulate or recycled materials and secure investments to scale up recycling capacity in Europe. The umbrella organisation also sees a need for strong mechanisms for verification and traceability of recycled polymers, to protect the European recycling industry from unfair competition and fraudulent imports. Mandatory third-party certifications of recycled plastic content were needed to preserve the transparency and credibility of the industry, the recycling industry group says.
To bridge the gap between virgin and recycled plastics, the group supports the us of any of several incentives, either market or tax-based. Mandatory collection targets and design-for-recycling criteria would enhance the quantity and quality of inputs to recycling processes, said EuRIC.
The industry association Plastics Recyclers Europe has also issued call for immediate action this week to keep European recycling capacity from being shuttered.