In 2020, the European Plastics Converters association and Plastics Europe jointly committed to developing a certification scheme by 2022 that would further formalise compliance with the requirements of the Operation Clean Sweep programme in Europe. Today, the associations announced the launch of the new certification scheme, that will be operational from February 2023.
OCS is an international programme designed to prevent resin pellet, flake and powder loss and to keep this from entering the marine environment. To date, the programme helped companies tackle pellet leakage by providing a set of tools, including a series of recommendations in the form of a manual based on collective learning.
Now, with the first ever European pellet loss prevention certification scheme in place, harmonised processes and procedures can be created for controlling and documenting pellet loss across the entire plastics supply chain, supporting an effective and quantifiable implementation of the OCS programme.
The scheme was developed in consultation with a multi-stakeholder committee composed of policymakers, certification bodies, and industry. An EU public consultation was also held, which gave stakeholders the opportunity to provide their views and comments on the founding principles and content of the certification scheme. This consultation yielded a number of additional recommendations. The implementation of the scheme will be monitored and further fine-tuned to ensure it achieves its purpose of reaching an overall decrease in plastics pellet losses.
All current OCS signatories - currently more than 1800 - and any other pellet handling entity along the supply chain, are eligible to participate and to assess and quantify their implementation of the OCS pledge. Common minimum requirements (based on the six pillars of the OCS pledge) will apply that will be audited regularly by accredited certification bodies. Certified companies will be listed in an online Public Register; annual reports on the company’s progress will be made, including pellet loss estimates and performance indicators.
“The launch of the OCS Europe certification scheme is an important step to further improve the impact of the Operation Clean Sweep programme and support our members and their value chains in preventing pellet loss,” said Hervé Millet, director of Climate and Production, Plastics Europe.
Geoffroy Tillieux, technical director, European Plastics Converters, added: “We can now tackle the issue of pellet loss with a practical toolbox. Preventing pellet loss is about culture and organisation change and companies in plastics masterbatching, compounding and converting may now demonstrate through concrete and transparent action how they prevent environmental pollution”.
The associations further stated that the plastics industry supports the European Commission’s objective of identifying policy options aimed at reducing unintentional releases of microplastics in the environment.
“It is only by working together as a united value chain that we can tackle pellets pollution. We call on all our partners to join the OCS programme, get certified and achieve our shared goal of systemic change,” they concluded.