Today far too much plastic waste still escapes the European collection systems. Failing to collect plastic waste leads to a loss of valuable resources and at the same time poses a risk to the natural environment. The urgency of changing the status quo of waste collection in Europe was the focal point of the Annual Meeting of plastics recyclers, that took place on October 11 and 12 in Portugal. Under the heading: “Increased collection: cornerstone for higher recycling rates” invited guests including the two key speakers, Kestutis Sadauskas from the European Commission and José Inácio Faria from the European Parliament, were debating about the waste collection rates, current and best practices in waste collection as well as legislative measures to harmonize waste management.
“With the endorsement of the new recycling target and the Plastic Strategy, this year marked a turning point for our industry. Increasing recycling rates in Europe is a reality,” said Ton Emans, PRE President. He continued: “This, however, cannot be achieved without high collection rates and high quality of plastic waste.”
Quality of waste is indispensable in production of high-value raw materials to be used for new articles. European plastics recyclers who make high quality products complying with the highest requirements, EU regulation and standards suffer from unfair competition of imported low quality products resulting from poor quality of waste and inferior manufacturing conditions. Therefore, we need to overhaul the currently dominating practices including waste exports, landfilling, incineration, lack of transparency and absence of rules in waste trading practices which do not maintain the value of the waste and hamper sustainable management of plastic waste.
Higher collection of course needs to be further paired with other measures like design for recycling for new products, developing recycling & sorting standards as well as stimulating recyclates’ uptake which are all vital to an efficient management of plastic waste. Plastics Recyclers Europe urges the EU institutions to drive the transformation of waste management practices in Europe and welcomes any initiatives that could improve today’s perspective. Revamping our collection systems will help locking valuable resources and limit the negative environmental impacts.