1. Who commissioned the report and why?
ReShaping Plastics is a 12-month research effort driven by the conviction that a new and shared evidence base is required to plot a science-based pathway to address current systemic challenges in the plastics system. One of the report’s key objectives is to strengthen the partnership and collaboration between industry, the public sector, and civil society by enabling evidence-based conversations based on a shared set of facts.
The European plastics system is extremely diverse and complex. Recognizing the severity of the climate crisis and the plastics waste challenge, it is essential that we continue to explore ways to promote a guided and fact-based discussion with the whole plastics value chain and policy makers on how to accelerate the industry’s transition to net zero.
To do that, PlasticsEurope decided to commission this extensive and independent report to see what possible pathways are open to the European plastics industry in different time horizons, including by 2030, but also up to 2050, which is the ultimate goal for transition to net zero carbon emissions.
2. Why was SYSTEMIQ commissioned to conduct report?
In 2021, SYSTEMIQ authored a study called Breaking the Plastic Wave with The Pew Charitable Trust, which developed a science-based approach and model to quantify the environmental, economic, social implications of different global strategies to reduce plastic pollution in the environment. That approach and its scientific rigour seemed exactly what was needed to analyse the pathways to achieve plastic circularity while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Europe.
3. What is the focus of the report?
ReShaping Plastics’s focus is to quantify the economic, environmental and social implications of different strategies, or pathways, that the European plastics system could pursue from now to 2050.
ReShaping Plastics focuses on four of the most important plastic-using sectors: packaging, household goods, automotive, and construction. It presents six system change scenarios, outlining which actions should be prioritized for different plastic applications in order to meet circularity and climate mitigation goals.
4. What methodology was used to develop the report?
Based on the science-based approach of the influential report Breaking the Plastic Wave, developed by SYSTEMIQ and The Pew Charitable Trusts in 2020, ReShaping Plastics uses a data-driven model of the European plastics system. It allows the researchers to quantify the economic, environmental and social implications of different scenarios and different system interventions – such as investing in recycling, changing packaging design, shifting to reuse systems, among many others – from now until 2050.
5. Which 3rd party organisations were involved in the development of the report?
- Maastricht University
- Innsbruck University
- University of Vienna
- Sitra investment fund
- Dow Packaging and Speciality Plastics
- Zero Waste Europe
- Ellen MacArthur Foundation
- Material Economics
- Berndt + Partner
- Eunomia Research and Consulting
- Lombard Odier Asset Management (Europe) Ltd
- Sky Ocean Ventures
- European Parliament
- European Commission
- European Environmental Bureau
6. How did you ensure the independence of the report?
The report was developed with a fully independent Steering Committee and Expert Panel – comprised of leaders across industry, public sector, civil society and academia. The Steering Committee provided strategic guidance and direction in all major project decisions and had complete independence in approving the strategic approach and recommendations. Detailed assumptions underlying the analysis were also peer-reviewed and approved by the Expert Panel. Jyrki Katainen, President of the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, a former European Commission Vice President and former Prime Minister of Finland, acted as Chair of the Steering Committee.
7. What are the key findings and recommendations of the report?
If the European plastics system is to meet its circularity and net zero emissions goals, it must adapt significantly over the next three to five years and it must address both the circularity challenge and carbon emissions simultaneously. Underpinning everything must be a collaborative and systemic approach between industry, policymakers and civil society. Refer to the report executive summary for further information.