Petrotahlil - The EU plastics industry has said it is being buffeted by the Covid-19 pandemic, and has appealed for help from the European Commission.
Industry group Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE) said the pandemic could render recycling unprofitable and hamper attainment of the EU recycling targets. It said converting plants have closed, virgin plastics prices are low and activity has fallen globally, and it called for the EU and member states to include recycling as a sector supported by recovery plans.
"If the situation is to persist and no actions are taken to remedy the sector, plastics recycling will cease to be profitable, hampering the attainment of the EU recycling targets and putting in jeopardy the transition towards circular plastics," said PRE president Ton Emans.
European Plastics Converters (EuPC) last month called on the commission and member states to postpone, for at least an additional year at national level, implementation of the EU's 2019 single-use plastics (SUP) directive. It said that single-use plastics are not easily substitutable and necessary in maintaining hygiene, health and safety, also for personal protective equipment (PPE), medical devises and medicines.
EuPC's request was not received favourably. Commission executive vice-president Frans Timmermans said EuPC was using the crisis as an excuse to "undo things that need to be done anyway".
"I really did not appreciate people writing to me and using the need for PPE in the health sector as a reason not to have a ban on certain single use items. There's no relationship between the two," Timmermans told the European Parliament's environment committee.
The 2019 directive sets a ban on certain SUP items, including cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers, from 2021. The directive, to be implemented by national legislation, also mandates extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes and a 90pc collection and recycling target, by weight, for plastic beverage bottles by 2029, and a 25pc target for recycled PET bottles by 2025, rising for all bottles to 30pc by 2030.
Campaign groups have expressed concerns over attempts to "water-down" implementation of the SUP directive. Rethink Plastic Alliance, which includes advocacy groups Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, today called on the commission and EU states to oppose allowing post-sorted waste plastic bottles to count towards the SUP directive 2029 target. The campaigners said only deposit return systems (DRS) enable high quality bottle-to-bottle recycling and effective littering reduction