In 2018, PCEP committed to strong voluntary action for the polyolefin value chain as part of the Circular Plastics Alliance and the European Commission’s campaign to reach 10 million tonnes of recycled plastic in new products on the EU market by 2025. The results from PCEP 2021 polyolefin material flow study1 showed it has already reached its pledge to increase the amount of recycled post-consumer polyolefin (PO) used in European products to 3M tonnes. As a result, the industry has now upgraded its level of ambition, increasing its target to 4M tonnes a year by 2025 – double the amount used in 2016.
Other long-term voluntary commitments approved by the PCEP General Assembly include:
- Increasing the share of post-consumer PO recyclates to 30% of total PO use by 2030 (estimated at 10.5% in 2021);
- Recycling 60% of collected PO packaging by 2030 (estimated at 28% in 2021 based on new calculation methodology);
- Recycling 50% of collected total PO waste by 2030 (estimated at 35.4% in 2021);
- Reviewing the industry’s level of ambition every two years.
Ton van der Giessen, interim Chair of PCEP Steering Board, said: “PCEP is all about action, not just words. Having achieved our target faster, by revising our pledge and our voluntary commitments we are demonstrating that PCEP is determined to be a major driving force in our industry’s transformation to circularity.”
To ensure the delivery of PCEP’s pledge and commitments, three key enabling conditions need to be achieved.
All post-consumer PO waste should be collected along with other dry recyclable materials and sorted to standards which PCEP will help to establish.
All PO products and packaging across the value chain should be designed according to PCEP’s Design Principles, maximising the potential use of recycled PO and promoting the purest possible polymer streams.
Product specifiers, such as brand owner procurement departments, should make increasing recycled PO content in their product mix a strategic objective, so driving acceptance of the material.
European policymakers will also need to provide support through EU legislation. This includes recognising all forms of recycling as counting towards recycling rates and recycled content targets. In addition, securing the full potential of plastics recycling by maintaining risk assessment as the decision-making basis.
Other EU measures should include dedicating resources to support the development and approval of technologies to enable recycled polyolefin content in food contact applications, without compromising food safety; implementing the EU waste directives across all member states by 2025; and ensuring the legal framework encourages investment in recycling innovations and allows time for that investment to be translated into on the ground capacity.