Cross sectoral statement on measuring recycled content / motion for a resolution on SUP draft implementing act 

At its plenary sitting in Strasbourg this week, the European Parliament will be asked to vote on the ENVI Committee’s proposed motion for a resolution objecting to the European Commission’s draft Implementing Act on measuring recycled content in Single Use Plastics (secondary legislation as a follow-up to the SUP Directive), rejecting the fuel-use exempt mass balance method as proposed by the Commission. 

Such rules will define how to measure recycled content in plastics deriving from chemical recycling, and can serve as an important precedent for recycled content in additional plastics applications (such as packaging or automotive). The proposals under consideration by the Commission and EU Member States have seen extensive studies, debate among Member States and stakeholder consultations over the past five years since the adoption of the primary legislation. The use of an Implementing Act as the most appropriate legal instrument to determine such rules has recently been confirmed in the inter-institutional agreement on the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (Article 8) 

Chemical recycling allows the use of plastic waste, especially feedstock not suitable for mechanical recycling, to produce virgin like plastics contributing to the EU’s circular economy goals in areas such as certain types of contact-sensitive packaging (e.g. pharmaceuticals, food, and cosmetics), medical devices, or certain automotive components and construction products that require high-quality recycled plastics. A viable and efficient way of scaling chemical recycling capacities to meet upcoming targets is to integrate chemical recycling processes into existing large-scale industrial plastics production installations – requiring mass balance as recycled feedstocks are blended with virgin feedstocks and the two different feedstocks cannot be physically separated once they are co-fed into the complex large-scale installations. Integration into large-scale production ecosystems avoids the additional cost, energy, and carbon footprint of building new segregated production facilities. 

The undersigned associations strongly support the mass balance credit method with a fuel-use exempt model for the calculation of recycled content in plastics products, as proposed by DG Environment in Article 7 of its draft Implementing Act. This model is also widely supported by industry stakeholders across many different industry sectors. 

Reaching recycled content targets being set for 2030 and 2040 (e.g. in the legislative proposals on Packaging and Packaging Waste or End-of-Life Vehicles which are currently under discussion or being finalised) will require industry to further scale commercial size chemical recycling investments immediately. It is therefore key that policymakers set a precedent as to when and how a mass balance chain of custody in recycled plastics will be applied in the EU sooner rather than later. Opposing the European Commission’s proposal would create continued uncertainty as to the acceptance of chemical recycling and mass balance in EU legislation, having the effect of putting investments in chemical recycling technologies (previously estimated by Plastics Europe as 8bn EUR by 2030) on hold in Europe for the coming years, and threatening industry’s capability to meet recycled content targets. This continuing regulatory uncertainty would further widen the ever-growing competitiveness gap with other regions currently facing the EU’s plastics value chain, and greatly hinder industry’s own ambitions to move to a climate neutral and circular economy. 

We therefore urge the European Parliament to reject the motion opposing the European Commission’s proposed Implementing Act, and support the proposed fuel-use exempt mass balance model.  

We thank you for your attention to this matter and remain available for a meeting to further discuss with you or your team at your earliest convenience.