14 December 2018

Waste firms back 35% recycled content requirement

The body representing waste management companies across Europe is seeking to drive support for potential new EU legislation mandating the use of recycled material in plastic drinks bottles.

FEAD – the European Federation of Waste Management – is pushing the measure as discussions take place between the European Parliament, EU Commission and Council of Ministers over a new single-use plastics directive.

European waste companies have given their support to measures intended to give manufacturers a requirement to put 35% recycled content in new plastic bottles

Among the issues up for discussion in the directive is a proposed 35% mandatory recycled content requirement for bottles, aimed at driving demand for recycled material.

Despite backing for the measure from the European Parliament, at a member state level ministers have been divided over their support for the issue, with some expressing reservations about how the 35% requirement could be implemented in practice.

Discussions

A final trilogue meeting will take place next week (December 18) when it is expected that the parties will reach agreement on the proposals with a view to them then becoming EU law.

FEAD, which represents Europe’s waste management companies, has claimed that the 35% recycled content requirement will drive demand for recycled plastic. The organisation claims that in 2016, the average recycled content in PET bottles stood at around 11% – with ‘very slow’ growth in the uptake of recycled polymers in new products.

In a statement ahead of the trilogue meeting, FEAD said that setting a 35% requirement in law would ‘immediately have a knock-on effect on collections of waste plastics’.

The organisation said it is urging member states and the European Commission ‘to be open to mandatory recycled content’ requirements ahead of the discussions.

It stated: “Setting a mandatory recycled plastic target for beverage bottles, where food safety considerations are fully complied with, will immediately have positive knock-on effects on improving and increasing the collection rate of these SUP [single use products] and is hence key to achieving the 90% collection target set by the Proposal, which is an important tool for preventing pollution from uncollected plastic bottles.

A 35% recycled content requirement will ‘drive demand’ for plastic, waste firms have claimed

“A mandatory recycled content target will send, through the waste and material value chain, a strong signal to boost the offer of, and the demand for recycled plastics, as well as provide operators with the necessary certainty they need to make significant investments in plastics recycling from packaging products. It would also send a strong signal to incentivise the production of recyclable bottles, rather than single-use ones.”

Plastic tax

While it is not clear whether the new legislation would apply to the UK – which reportedly backs a mandatory recycled content requirement – the UK government is putting in place measures aimed at improving the recycling of single-use plastic products.

This includes a tax on any plastic packaging which contains less than 30% recycled content, announced by the Chancellor Philip Hammond in his budget in November and expected to come into effect from April 2022 (see letsrecycle.com story).

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