EU Plastics Strategy: Commission welcomes voluntary pledges from industry to boost the market for recycled plastics and encourages further action



Following an EU-wide pledging campaign as part of the European Plastics Strategy, today the European Commission has given a preliminary assessment which shows that EU industry is significantly committed to recycling plastics - at least 10 million tons of recycled plastics could be supplied by 2025 if the pledges are fully delivered. However, on the demand side, only 5 million tons are expected so far, demonstrating that more will be needed to achieve the objective of a well-functioning EU market of recycled plastics.

First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, responsible for sustainable development, said: "To get to a circular plastics economy, it is essential that more recycled plastics find their way into new products. While we are very grateful for the variety of contributions we received from different industry representatives, more needs to be done. We will now analyse which should be the next steps to further boost the uptake of recycled plastics and close the gap between supply and demand. This is not only necessary for safeguarding our natural environment but also good for our economy as Europe leads the way."

Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness, said: "The pledging exercise clearly shows that big part of the European industry is committed to use plastics in a more sustainable manner. Rethinking plastics is seen as potentially beneficial by all participants of the value chain, from waste collectors and recyclers to producers and converters to brand-owners. To be able to reap benefits in full, we need to develop a well-functioning market for recycled plastics. To this end we invite all relevant stakeholders to continue our joint work."

By the end of October the Commission received over 60 pledges and is now reviewing them in more detail to analyse their impact per plastic types on supply and demand aspects. The main pledges received came from plastics recyclers, industry associations for Expanded Polystyrene and brand owners mainly for PET packaging (see list of pledgers).While the official pledging exercise announced in the Plastics Strategy is now closed, we are well aware that more companies are preparing their commitments – which we strongly encourage.

Preliminary analysis indicates that pledges from recyclers would give enough recycled plastics to reach the EU target by 2025. However, as the demand for recycled plastics may increase quickly if good quality material becomes available in stable quantities and at competitive prices, based on the current pledges the demand for recycled plastics needs developing. Further actions should therefore be envisaged to support an increased demand for recycled plastics. 

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