Plastics Europe supports the need for a faster systemic shift towards circularity and carbon neutrality

17, May, 2022

Plastics Europe

Plastics Europe supports the vision of the new independent report «ReShaping Plastics: Pathways to a Circular, Climate Neutral Plastics System in Europe». The association endorses the report's central findings that faster systemic change and stronger and more effective collaboration, between all parts of the European plastics ecosystem and policy makers, are essential. He also agrees that circularity it is the most important lever in the medium term to carry out a complete transition of the industry. In response to the evaluation and implementation of the main findings of the study, and to further accelerate the change, Plastics Europe proposes a package of measures and supports, according to the recommendations of the study itself, the development of a new political and regulatory framework conducive and capable of encouraging investment and innovation in a more effective way, fostering an environment of creative competition.

The report has been developed by the SYSTEMIQ consulting firm with the support of an independent Steering Committee and a Panel of Experts that has included representatives from European institutions, NGOs, academia and industry. The European plastics producers commissioned this report to help them respond, as effectively as possible, to the severity of the climate crisis and the plastic waste challenge. The objective of the study was to make a critical analysis of the progress made to date and to evaluate the potential of the different levers that could be activated to help in the transition towards circularity and net-zero carbon targets of the European Union by 2050.

The report confirms that circularity is a key driver for reducing emissions in the system in the short and medium term. In addition, it highlights the need to activate all levers both upstream (pre-consumer) and downstream (post-consumer), including mechanical and chemical recycling, the use of alternative raw materials, for example, raw materials of biological origin, and the design of products for recycling or reuse. Likewise, the report highlights the need to have access to sufficient renewable and low-carbon energy sources, all these elements being essential factors to reduce the amount of plastic waste and achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gases (GHG).

The report also indicates that accelerating systemic change requires significant short- and long-term investments by different public and private actors, as well as more technological innovations, new infrastructure and new business models. On the other hand, the authors of the study confirm that the substitution of plastics for other materials offers a very limited margin to reach net zero emissions.

Markus Steileman, President of Plastics Europe, said: “The plastics industry has an important role to play in reducing emissions and waste and increasing circularity. It is time to replace fossil raw materials with circular raw materials with a significantly lower carbon footprint. This new report shows a number of options and scenarios to achieve this and we will take a closer look at them. Of course, we do not yet have all the answers to the challenges we face. For this reason, we support the call made in the report for a more intense and effective collaboration with our value chain and with public authorities.”

Steilemann also added that: “It is encouraging that the report recognizes the essential contribution of plastics to achieving the EU's net zero emissions targets. These materials help reduce emissions in other key sectors such as construction, automotive, packaging and medicine, and are essential for the technological development of renewable energies.

Virginia Janssen, General Manager of Plastics Europe, has highlighted that: “Our members are making very important investments and carrying out a far-reaching reorganization of their production bases and technologies. To further accelerate the transition of the industry, we need a new enabling policy framework that better incentivizes investment and innovation by fostering an environment of creative competition. We must harness the power of the European Union's Single Market and find workable mechanisms and measures to keep European industry competitive globally, as the EU transitions to net-zero emissions."

To help implement the report's recommendations and accelerate the industry's transition to net-zero carbon emissions and full circularity, Plastics Europe proposes a series of measures including:

  1. Develop a roadmap for Plastics Europe and its members to accelerate the industry's transition to 2050. This will include milestones and targets, as well as more ambitious policy and regulatory recommendations and the development of mechanisms designed to support and incentivize the industry. This roadmap will inform and review the goals set by its members and the progress made.
  2. Ensuring that all Plastics Europe policy positions are designed to accelerate the transition of the plastics ecosystem towards greater circularity and net-zero emissions by 2050, including the need to transform upstream circularity and GHG reduction levers (pre- consumption) and downstream (post-consumer).
  3. Explore the creation of a new multi-stakeholder platform in 2022, inspired by the “Plastics Transition Committee” proposed in the report, which would be designed to ensure a step change in the intensity and effectiveness of dialogue and collaboration with stakeholders. policy makers and the plastics value chain.

Plastics Europe is committed to engaging with all relevant parties to address the challenge of achieving the faster systemic change outlined in the report.

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