Working together for a circular economy for plastics
We believe our industry has an essential role to play in making plastics more sustainable. Developing the necessary levers requires a concerted effort by everybody who can contribute. By working together, we can deliver long-lasting, sustainable change.
Many parties are involved during the life cycle of a piece of plastic – from raw material production to manufacture and use, and then disposal and end-of-life treatment. That’s why we collaborate and invest in the long-term partnerships with governments, civil society and local communities, and other companies across the plastics value chain that are so crucial.
In addition to engaging with value chain partners, dialogue with stakeholders such as NGOs, policymakers, academia, and the public is essential. Plastics Europe also engages with environmental protection organisations on critical sustainability issues such as plastic pollution, and provides insights and input into reports that can guide the development of solutions in the future.
Working together also helps broaden our understanding of the concerns, needs and expectations relating to areas like marine litter and pellet loss prevention. It enables us to discuss challenges and find potential solutions.
Taking action on plastic waste
Working closely with our value chain partners – from producers to technology providers, converters, recyclers, and brand owners – as well as government, civil society and consumers, we recognise the issue of plastic waste and supporting systemic change. This issue extends beyond our industry. It will take everyone to effect change. Engaging with public and private partners via alliances at local, national and global levels to encourage appropriate recycling, reuse and recovery of plastic waste pollution is vital.
Collaborating on key sustainability issues
Plastics Europe collaborates closely with scientists on microplastics to address gaps in the science, for example, as well as with policymakers and regulators to develop the most appropriate measures for driving change.
This includes the BlueMed Hackathon team challenge, which was an opportunity to develop ideas and solutions for a Healthy Plastic Free Mediterranean Sea. The event saw teams comprising 18-30 years’ old MSc and PhD candidates or graduates in STEM disciplines, as well as designers, creatives and young marine sciences professionals, all working together to create solutions to the issue of plastics pollution. The initiative is being showcased during Ecomondo (The Green Technology Expo), where the winners’ pitch presentations will be heard, offering their ideas and solutions for a ‘healthy plastic free Mediterranean Sea’.
We continuously share intelligence with our stakeholders to build the research and deepen our scientific understanding. Whilst also contributing to the development of standard methodologies, protocols and analytical methods – essential for establishing reliable, evidence-based information.
We also engage with key partners, including the cosmetic, textile, washing machine and tyre industries, on how best to mitigate the impact of microplastics.
Partnering for sustainability
From driving discussion to inviting innovation, we partner with organisations that share our ambition for a circular economy for plastics, zero landfill, sustainable development, and waste reduction and recycling.
The LIFE Blue Lakes project aims to reduce and prevent the presence of microplastics in the Italian and German lakes through a series of actions involving institutions, local authorities, companies and citizens.
PlastiCircle comprises 20 European organisations, including Plastics Europe, that have joined forces to reinvent the way we treat plastic packaging. Funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, PlastiCircle is rolling out innovations in waste collection, transport, sorting and recycling, and aims to transform plastic packaging waste into valuable products. Developments include smart containers to increase collection rates of plastic waste, cost-effective waste transport systems connected to IoT cloud platforms, innovative optical sorting technologies to improve sorting, and new recycled plastic products.
Working with public and private partners via alliances at the local, national and global levels to encourage appropriate recycling, reuse and recovery of plastic waste pollution. With a projected contribution of 1.2 Mt of recycled plastics produced through chemical recycling by 2025, Plastics Europe plays a leading role in delivering on the European Commission’s Circular Plastics Alliance target of 10 Mt recycled plastics used in European products by 2025.
PolyREC is a non-profit industry association formed by Plastics Europe, VinylPlus, PetcoreEurope and Plastics Recyclers Europe, which aims to provide plastics recyclers and converters with a common data collection tool – RecoTrace™ – to record and monitor data on plastics recycling tonnages and recycled material use in Europe.
Find out more about PolyREC.
Plastics Europe has worked extensively with different organisations to promote Operation Clean Sweep®, and the vital role of the value chain in achieving zero pellet loss and how best to address issues such as marine litter. It’s a core part of our commitment to sustainability at the European level.
Gestes Propres developed a national campaign to fight against discarded masks generated by the Covid 19 pandemic. This included awareness-raising materials that were communicated across France on outdoor and social media platforms.
The Plastic Museum, the first 100% recyclable museum in the world, was born with the idea of being disassembled on International Recycling Day. Built entirely with plastics, it was broken down, reused and recycled in floors, walls and ceilings. Some materials will also be used to create products for the “I used to be a museum” collection.
Watch how The Plastic Museum was created.
Plastics Europe supports a global framework for plastics aimed at reducing plastic waste in any environment. Our industry is harnessing the power of innovation and technology to significantly increase reuse and recycling.
Marine Litter Solutions
Around the world, the plastics industry is engaged in collaborative work to help end ocean pollution. Members of the Global Plastics Alliance believe in integrated approaches for managing plastics resources that allow us to enjoy their benefits without trashing our oceans.
World Plastics Council
We are a partner of the World Plastics Council. A platform for cooperation that engages the key leaders in the industry to address common issues and opportunities that are increasingly global. With innovations for cleaning oceans and rivers and finding new uses for plastic waste, they support the shift to a sustainable plastic future.
Cooperation through the plastics value chain
Polyolefin Circular Economy Platform
A new Polyolefin Circular Economy Platform (PCEP) was created in collaboration between Plastics Europe, European Plastics Converters (EuPC) and Plastic Recyclers Europe (PRE). The platform will create a multi-stakeholder group to identify the barriers and opportunities to increase recycling in Europe, and work towards ensuring the supply of high-quality recycled plastics for the European market. This will drive economic growth and the creation of new jobs as Europe moves towards a more circular economy.
Styrenics Circular Solutions
Styrenics Circular Solutions (SCS) is a joint value chain initiative founded in 2018 by leading styrenics manufacturers, with membership continuously expanding across the value chain. They are the unified driving force to make the circular economy a reality for styrenic plastics, including polystyrene, through innovative recycling technologies and partner-driven solutions.
Operation Clean Sweep®
Operation Clean Sweep® is an international programme designed to prevent the loss of plastic granules during handling by various plastics value chain entities and their release into the environment. Companies that sign the European OCS pledge commit to a number of key actions designed to prevent spillage into the environment.
Plastics Europe is a partner of EsPlásticos, the Spanish plastics value chain platform. This initiative allows the Spanish plastics sector to better engage with policymakers and opinion leaders and demonstrate its value to society and contribution to sustainable development.
We partnered with SusChem Spain to create InnovaPlásticos – an annual event on plastics innovation for a low-carbon circular economy. Supported by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, InnovaPlásticos shares state-of-the-art developments and success stories from member companies, brand owners, and start-ups.
In Belgium, we collaborate with essenscia polymatters on a number of programmes. Plastics Europe also leads the Antwerp Zero Pellet Loss Platform – a value chain initiative gathering plastics producers, logistics and transport companies active in the Port of Antwerp – to initiate collective actions to tackle pellet loss in the Port of Antwerp. This includes a biennial Operation Clean Sweep of the Port of Antwerp activity report and the launch of a sweeping plan for the port roads. In addition, there are regular best practice exchanges and awareness-raising communication sessions about pellet loss prevention. Multi-lingual communication tool kits have also been developed for truck drivers.