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Plastics recycling ‘far too low’ in Europe

Europe – The plastic recycling rate for Europe as a whole is ‘€˜far too low’€™ at 24%, European Commissioner for Environment Janez Potočnik told a recent conference. He also highlighted the importance of a ‘€˜switch from energy recovery to increased recycling’€™.

According to Mr Potočnik, even in countries with high recovery rates there is ‘€˜simply not enough plastic available for recycling’€™ because about half of it goes into energy recovery. ‘€˜A dominance of energy recovery over recycling is not acceptable in the medium term,’€™ he insisted. The volume of plastics wasting away in European landfills ‘€˜is broadly the equivalent of 12 million tons of crude oil’€™ dumped every year. 

In line with the European strategy for 2020, Mr Potočnik stated: ‘€˜We need to achieve real and absolute decoupling of economic growth from resource use and pollution. The plastic industry must play a full part in this process.’€™ This means a move away from a ‘€˜throw-away society’€™ and a leap towards a circular economy.

Although recycling technology has moved forward at a rapid pace, it still ‘€˜has some way to go’€™, he remarked. ‘€˜Whereas – thanks to EU legislation – about 85% of every car is now recycled, only about 25% of every new car is built with recycled materials, and much of this difference is down to plastic. Too often plastic is down-cycled, not recycled.’€™

Hoping to ‘€˜trigger a reflection’€™ regarding the current state of affairs, Mr Potočnik announced he is planning shortly to launch a broad debate on plastics specifically focused on resource efficiency issues.

To read the entire speech, visit:

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