EU’s ambitious PPWR targets should be matched by equally ambitious investment and innovation support measures

Industry calls for science-based, and material and technology neutral policy

Plastics Europe believes that the European Commission’s Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) proposal contains many positive elements and could serve as a catalyst to transform the plastics packaging industry.

Virginia Janssens, Managing Director of Plastics Europe, said: “EU policy and regulation must incentivise the billions of euros of public and private investments needed to develop a circular plastics economy in Europe. This proposal could ensure the recyclability of all plastics packaging, kick-start reuse in many applications, and increase recycled content, delivering on a truly circular economy for plastics packaging in Europe.”

Plastics Europe believes that the development of Design for Recycling Guidelines, and regulation that is science-based, fully material and technology neutral is the best way to allow the market to create the required new business models, and recycling, collection and sorting technologies.

Our members are already undertaking huge investments and a far-reaching reorganisation of their production and technology base, and accept that faster systemic change is essential to meet the EU’s 2050 climate and circularity goals. We are also advocating for ambitious and realistic reuse and recycled content targets, supported by the right enabling framework.

Plastics Europe is open minded regarding the Commission’s proposed reuse targets and needs to further assess their achievability (together with our value chain partners). Some of them will require a transformation of current business models. It is key that in developing these reuse targets, they are applied equally to all materials and a clear environmental benefit is demonstrated.

Plastics Europe proposed a 2030 mandatory recycled content target of an average of 30% across all types of plastics packaging (subject to an enabling policy framework). We continue to call for flexibility in meeting recycled content targets through setting them as averages rather than for every individual item of packaging, however our proposed targets go further than the Commission’s proposed 10% minimum target, per unit of contact sensitive packaging made from plastic materials other than PET.

We also fear the PPWR proposal is a missed opportunity for the Commission to boost the potential of bio-based plastics in contributing to circular feedstock targets while reducing emissions.

Janssens continued: “Ambitious targets need to be matched by an equally ambitious enabling policy framework. This must reward the supply of low-carbon and circular products, needs to harness the power of the EU Single Market through harmonised policy and regulation and ensure the competitiveness of the sector during this transition.

Recycled content targets for contact sensitive plastic packaging will require a significant contribution from chemical recycling, which is a key building block of the circular economy. To ramp-up investment in chemical recycling we need clear and urgent acceptance of mass balance in EU legislation. There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity for industry to make the necessary investments in chemical recycling in Europe, which must be seized. More intense and effective collaboration with our value chain partners and policymakers is essential if we are to drive demonstrable improvements in plastics circularity, and reductions in plastics waste and emissions. We remain an engaged and committed partner in furthering this transition.

Virginia Janssens – Managing Director of Plastics Europe

More about ReShaping Plastics report

In April 2022, Plastics Europe launched “ReShaping Plastics: Pathways to a Circular, Climate Neutral Plastics System in Europe”, an independent report analysing the European plastics industry’s best transition pathways and levers towards net zero by 2050.

The report confirms the need for faster systemic change and that circularity is a key driver of system emissions reduction in the short to medium term. It further highlights the need for all up- and down-stream levers to be engaged, including mechanical and chemical recycling, the use of alternative raw materials such as bio feedstocks, and designing products for recycling and reuse. 

As one reaction to the report, Plastics Europe calls for a policy and regulatory framework which is stable, long-term-oriented, and consistent across Member States while supporting the industry’s need to innovate in a rapidly evolving world.