This was the message of the first speakers at the conference running in parallel with the Plastics Recycling Show that opened this morning at the RAI, in Amsterdam. It is a message that echoes what a walk around the exhibition floor confirms: closed-loop recycling, infrastructure, sorting, circularity may be among the main themes, but a harmonised, regulated approach is the over-arching requirement to make these work.
Keynote speaker Mattia Pellegrini, head of the Waste Management & Secondary Materials unit, DG Environment, European Commission, who joined by video,set the scene with a deep dive into the EU’s new Circular Economy Action Plan, which also includes a review of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive. The aim is to decrease amount of packaging on the market, increase the volume of reusable packaging and increase amount of recycled content in packaging
Too much packaging can be avoided, he said. “Despite the fact that the weight of packaging is going down, the sheer amount - expressed in kilograms – is going up. The levels of avoidable and single-use packaging are high, while the market share of refillables has dropped dramatically in 20 years.”
He noted that it was crucial to overcome the current barriers to circularity: among others, the increasing use of design that inhibits recycling, the many inconsistencies and confusion when it comes to labelling, and issues such as hazardous substances and contamination.
The EU has therefore identified various areas of intervention to reduce packaging waste per capita by 2030 both by waste prevention activities and resusable activities, said Pelligrini. “We are clearly defining what is understood by recyclable and putting forward guidelines on design for recycling. All packaging on the market must comply by 2030.”