Exploding myths: the great value of plastics and waste plastics

plastic recycling

PlasticsEurope and the ITENE recently brought together the different actors operating in the plastic value chain and the waste management sector at a conference held at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Affairs. The event demonstrated the current united front presented by these important actors in terms of the zero plastics to landfill target for 2020. All plastics can be recovered to obtain new products or to provide an important source of energy.

The industry and its main actors are committed to far more efficient use of resources based on the fostering of: prevention, mechanical recycling, energy recovery and the creation of of alternative fuels. As far as PlasticsEurope is concerned, the starting point of any strategy must be prevention, a central pillar of EU and Member State policies for the period 2010-2014. Therefore, responsible consumption and a more rational use of all resources are of fundamental importance. Moreover, thanks to the efficiency of plastics, less and less food is wasted as the use of increasingly lighter packaging prolongs the life of foodstuffs and reduces organic waste.

It is also necessary to foster high-quality mechanical recycling. Such recycling must comply with stringent health and environmental protection standards, in accordance with the application for which the product is to be used. To promote quantity rather than quality in the area of recycling might create problems in terms of finding suitable outlet markets for material, because the quality may not comply with the technical specifications required by the final application. In addition, the broadening of collection schemes should be promoted, with a view to covering 100% of post-consumption waste, thereby enabling the recycling and recovery of all plastics waste.

However, mechanical recycling is sometimes not the most efficient option from the technical, environmental and economic perspective.

Article published in: FuturENVIRO December 2013