Good examples and best practices in collection and recycling of agricultural film exist across Europe. In Ireland 74% of plastics are recycled thanks to a well-functioning collection scheme and value chain collaboration. In certain regions, like Andalusia, collection of agriculture plastics is already required by the legislation.
According to the proposal of the European Parliament on the Fertilisers Regulation conventional mulch film which is not degradable within 5 years should not be CE marked. This will de facto mean a serious market restriction for conventional and recyclable mulch film.
The report does not reflect any scientific study and was drafted without previous assessment as per economic or environmental impacts. If implemented, this will have serious implications for agricultural plastic converting, recycling and the free market.
Ton Emans, PRE president, commented: Agricultural plastic waste stream represents predominantly a mono-material consisting of LDPE and LLDPE so the final recycling process results in high quality recyclates.
He further elaborated that: Plastics waste is a hot topic for which the Commission is developing a Strategy. Agriculture film is one of the only plastics waste flows which is recycled without any legislation in place. It is certain that more should be done, however, this draft proposal will result in a halt of these positive developments and lower the overall plastics recycling rate which is already dramatically low.
Alexandre Dangis, EuPC Managing Director, underlined: The market of LDPE films in EU is over 86kt, the shift to the new imposed material will create market distortions as today only a handful of producers are able to provide the needed supply. Collection and recycling of PE mulch film is essential in Europe as it is contributing to a circular economy also in in the agricultural sector. Any initiative to enhance more collection and sorting of these mulching films needs to be stimulated and welcomed as a responsible behaviour of EU farmers.
It is necessary to review these amendments by taking into consideration economic and environmental implications in correspondence with Circular Economy and the Plastics Strategy.