However, European recyclers warn that the phasing out of non-recyclable packaging must be dramatically accelerated if the EU is to live up to its circular economy and climate ambitions.
Recyclers also regret the lack of ambition on recyclability targets arguing that design for recycling criteria – which enables packaging to be more easily recycled – must be fast-tracked for implementation before 2025, not 2035*. Moreover, requirements to ensure packaging is effectively collected, sorted, and recycled at scale should be implemented by 2030, not 2035.
“COP27 experts warn of record high emissions in 2022. Recycling offers solutions to this crisis by lowering our demand for extracted raw materials, thereby reducing CO2 emissions, energy, and water consumption. Yet, we need a regulatory environment that enables recyclers to thrive and re-invest in Europe,” says Emmanuel Katrakis, Secretary General of the European Recycling Industries’ Confederation. “The proposed Regulation is a step in the right direction but does not go far enough in eliminating the use of non-recyclable packaging,” he added.
While recyclers enthusiastically support rules that mandate the use of recycled materials in new packaging, they note the need for more ambitious targets for beverage bottles and non-contact sensitive packaging, including compostable packaging. The additional demand for recycled materials spurred by these targets will enable recyclers to reinvest in innovation and the upscaled recycling facilities necessary for realising the circular economy and tackling climate change.
Finally, while recyclers support targets that promote packaging reuse, it is of paramount importance to ensure consistency between targets and provide the certainty needed by the value chain to invest and scale-up capacities. In addition, a distinction must be made between those materials that are highly recyclable but not necessarily best fit for reuse e.g., paper and cardboard, and those that are better suited for reuse.