The European Recycling Industries’ Confederation (EuRIC) sees an imminent threat that mandatory recycled content targets and requirements on packaging recyclability could be "significantly watered down". The umbrella organisation is making an urgent plea to EU decision makers, asking them to ensure that the proposed Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) actually contributes to closing the loop.
The statement from EuRIC is a response to the Swedish EU Presidency's compromise text with amendments to the European Commission's original proposal for a Regulation. The text was discussed in the Council's Environment Working Group last week.
EuRIC supports amendments establishing mandatory collection targets for packaging waste and third-party verification of recycled content claims. However, the organisation is concerned about the impact it believes the compromise amendments would have on mandatory minimum recyclate content and recyclability requirements.
"Mandatory recycled content in all packaging polymers is essential for securing a constant demand for recycled materials against the up and downs of virgin polymers prices. Avoiding loopholes is paramount for ensuring R&D and investments in the EU”, said Sophie Sicard, president of the European Plastic Recycling Branch (EPRB) of EuRIC. "Derogations to the targets and accountability of biobased materials would not provide any solution to better manage the end-of-life of plastic packaging and must therefore be rejected," she added.
The organisation also raised concerns about measures under consideration that would grant privileged access to recyclates to manufacturers of packaging which is subject to minimum recycled content mandates. Such a right of first refussal would make the ability of recyclers to cover their costs and gain access to the feedstock uncertain, and as a result "would put a halt to recycling investment". Recyclers all had an environmental and economic interest in "closing the loop” because recycled materials suitable for closed-loop use are generally more valuable due to additional treatment steps, said EuRIC.
"The main obstacles for circularity still lie today in lack of commitment of producers to using recycled polymers, as well as in poor packaging design for recyclability and insufficient collection," said the umbrella group. EuRIC also underlined the need for flexibility at EU member state level on the improvement of collection.