Alexis Van Maercke, Secretary General of APEAL, said: “Packaging plays an essential role in protecting and preserving resources such as food and reducing waste. But the value of this role can be obscured by the impact of poor recycleability and ineffective recycling. APEAL believes the European Commission has taken a bold step to address some of these issues through this revised PPWR legislation.
“The transition to a regulation that acknowledges, and rewards, real recycling is an important step in the drive to achieve a truly circular economy.”
APEAL welcomes the introduction of a set of so-called ‘recyclability performance grades’ based on design for recycling criteria. Depending on its recyclability, packaging would be awarded a grade ranging from “A” to “E”, whereby the “A”-grade is the best-performer and “E” the worst. When labelled as “E”, the packaging format would have to be phased out within a certain time limit.
However, more needs to be done to achieve the Commission’s objective that all packaging on the EU market be reusable or recyclable in an economically viable way by 2030, as stipulated by the Green Deal and the Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) 2.0.
Packaging should not only be designed so that it is recyclable in an economically viable way by 2030, but also be effectively and efficiently recycled at scale by that date. Furthermore, minimum recyclability criteria should be introduced for all packaging put on the market, ensuring a level-playing field across all materials.
APEAL welcomes the European Commission’s ambition to link the eco-modulation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) fees with the recyclability performance grades. It is the association’s firm belief that not all recycling contributes equally to a circular economy. Permanent materials, such as steel, that can be recycled again and again should be rewarded over those that cannot be recycled or can only be recycled a limited number of times.
APEAL is pleased that mandatory recycled content targets are proposed to boost the uptake of certain recyclates with low demand, and not for materials such as steel, which are already highly recycled, and significantly, where demand for scrap already exceeds supply.
But to fully close the loop, further action is still required. It is now essential to eliminate loopholes in the waste management process and set out an ambitious approach to phasing out the landfilling of recyclable resources in the forthcoming review of the Waste Framework and Landfill Directives. “Steel scrap is simply too valuable to end up in landfill,” said Mr Van Maercke.