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Significantly more plastic recycling needed by 2025

12.11.2020 − 

At least 15 million tonnes of plastic waste a year would be needed as input material by European recyclers if the EU plastics strategy target for recycled content is to be achieved, according to a new report released by the Circular Plastics Alliance. The EU strategy aims to have 10 million tonnes of recycled plastics a year incorporated in new products by 2025. The Circular Plastics Alliance works to implement this and the other objectives of the plastics strategy through voluntary commitments; its members consist of 245 public and private actors along the plastics value chain.

In their new report on the state of play for collected and sorted plastic waste, the alliance bases its estimate of required recycling inputs on an assumption of a yield rate of approximately 70 per cent. The assumed yield stems from an examination of waste plastic flows between 2016 and 2019. In that time frame, around 21 million tonnes of plastic waste were collected annually from the construction products, packaging, agriculture, electrical and electronic equipment and automotive sectors. Of this total, about 9.2 million tonnes were sorted and supplied to recyclers as input material. 7.5 million tonnes went to recyclers located in Europe, who in turn produced 5.2 million tonnes of recycled plastic, which corresponds to approximately 70 per cent of the input volume.

The Alliance now plans to investigate the areas in Europe where there is untapped potential for increasing sorting and recycling and to present the results of its work in early 2021. One reason for the difference between the volume of plastic collected and the amount ultimately incorporated in new products is that some of the waste is not recyclable. To address this issue, the Alliance plans to improve the design-for-recycling of 19 priority product categories as well as to identify further categories in 2021 where changes could be made to improve recyclability.

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