Delegates from across Europe attending a major plastics conference have supported tougher regulatory measures to help achieve an EU-wide goal of zero plastics to landfill by 2020.
Around 62% of around 200 delegates at Plastics Europe’s recycling and recovery conference IdentiPlast indicated in a survey that a ban on landfill or higher tax rates would be the way forward. Only 24% of respondents said financial incentives to support investments in recycling and energy recovery would be the main drivers.
Thirty-six per cent of respondents indicated they would be in favour of higher recycling targets for plastics packaging at the EU level to be made compulsory, while 37% said targets should increase, but only over time and in line with technological progress.
Vanya Veras, secretary general of Municipal Waste Europe, the European association of public waste management bodies, said stronger EU legislation would be necessary to encourage all member states, especially in southern Europe, to improve recycling of plastics.
Supporters of carrot-over-stick approaches said more should be done to develop recyclate markets in Europe.
Eric Brac de La Perrière, director general at Éco-Emballages, a French body funded by manufacturers to promote recycling, said: “[Plastics recycling] is still a fragile industry, with some businesses in very difficult situations. We need to act to promote a larger consump-tion of recycled materials in product manufacturing.
“Taxation is not the priority at the moment. But robust industrial processes and a demand for the recycled material drives up quality and quantity.”
Inefficient collections systems around Europe being the main obstacles to the development of plastics recycling were indicated by 45% of respondents.
Koos Van Haasteren, vice-president at petrochemicals giant Sabic, argued that separate plastics collection systems were necessary, along with public backing.
Co-operation among manufacturers, recyclers and local authorities would also be crucial to drive the change, he said: “If we all work together, that goal of zero landfill or the bigger goal of carbon efficiency will be achieved one day.”
Two-thirds of IdentiPlast delegates agreed that zero plastics to landfill by 2020 was “a goal that must be achieved”.