To balance the push with pull measures, the right framework conditions along with economic instruments need to be put in place. A stronger demand for recycled materials resulting in resilient markets needs to be created, in other words, the circle needs to be closed.
FEAD President, Jean-Marc Boursier: “Market forces alone have not been sufficient to ensure sufficient uptake of certain recycled materials. We need a long term and ambitious policy framework to provide legal certainty, thereby encouraging investments by FEAD companies in more efficient waste and resource management techniques, in line with the waste hierarchy”.
Over recent years, falling oil prices have lowered the price for virgin plastics, creating a price gap with recycled materials leading to the closure of recycling plants and job losses. Furthermore, the recently announced ban by China on imports as from January 2018 on different waste streams has already dramatically affected recycled materials prices and offtakes. This wake-up call not only urgently requires the creation of more treatment capacity in Europe but also of additional local demand through concrete demand-side measures.
FEAD Secretary General, Nadine De Greef: “The eco-design of products incentivized by an extended producer responsibility will substantially reduce their environmental impact. A toolbox of legal and economic measures together with an intensified cooperation between all actors across the value chain are required to make the transition to a circular economy happen”:
- An optimized collection, sorting and recycling will not only increase the quantity but also the quality of recycled materials”.
- Levies should be put on non-recyclable materials.
- A minimum recycled content in selected products should become legally binding and part of public tenders (GPP at EU, Member States or local levels).
- Legislation should stimulate the uptake of secondary raw materials so as to make them competitive with virgin materials on the market (e.g. as in the Renewable Energy Directive which includes waste-based fossil fuels in the minimum share in the transport sector).
- Harmonised eco-labelling rules incorporating indications of recycled content and recyclability should be introduced to raise consumers’ awareness.
- Externalities associated with the extraction and processing of virgin raw materials should be factored into their price (e.g. via a carbon tax). Externalities avoided by the recycling sector (CO2 reduction, energy savings) should be recognized.
FEAD members are convinced that the right political framework together with economic incentives and an intensified dialogue between all actors of the value chain can lead to a sustainable production and consumption and an increased use of recycled materials.