Ever more complex European rules and laws increasingly frustrate the daily work and operations of recyclers, putting a successful future for the circular economy at risk, according to Michael Schuy, president of the European Recycling Industries’ Confederation (EuRIC).
‘The EU should promote and support the circular economy, not hamper it,’ Schuy said during the body’s annual conference in Berlin. He called on the European Commission to simplify regulation so that it became a helpful tool rather than being a major headache frustating recycling companies and businesses across the continent.
‘Running a business in the recycling sector becomes more challenging each day and demands to constantly adapt to ever changing rules and market conditions,’ said Schuy, who is managing director at Schuy Recycling in Germany.
At a crossroads
According to EuRIC’s president, recyclers are sitting at the crossroads of three regulatory regimes, namely waste, chemicals and product legislation whose lack of interface can have ‘far-reaching’ consequences.
Schuy criticised in particular the European Parliament’s proposal to revise regulation of the so-called persistent organic pollutants (POPs), compounds that are resistant to environmental degradation through chemical, biological, and photolytic processes. The proposal sets a concentration level for such substance equal to or below 10mg/kg (or 0.001%).
Producing recycled plastics containing less than 10mg/kg of the flame retardant decaBDE is not technically feasible at the industrial scale, recyclers claim. Specifically, EuRIC fears that recycling plastics from ELVs and e-scrap will come to an end in Europe if such concentration limits become mandatory under the POPs revision and Schuy asked: ‘As a consequence, there may be more landfilling and incineration. Is that what we want?’