The recycling system in the European Union

The European Union wants to improve the recycling system, as much packaging waste (e.g. plastic packaging) is degraded and used in low-quality applications after the recycling process.

According to a report by the World Trade Organization (WTO), its aim is, firstly, to achieve full technical recyclability of packaging and, secondly, to ensure that packaging can actually be recycled at scale.

Recycling at scale (i.e. that all packaging can be recycled) should be guaranteed for all packaging formats by 2035.

All these recyclability issues are contained in one proposal.

A very important condition for quality recycling is that it can be carried out cost-effectively.

Recyclability efforts are one of the factors that make it possible to establish a value chain for packaging from production to end-of-life.

Another area is compostability requirements. When it comes to biodegradable plastics or compostable plastics, there is still a lot of confusion in Europe about the biodegradability of packaging, and consumers do not always know where to dispose of packaging: should it go with organic waste or in the recycling garbage can?

Recycling system

Thus, EU representatives proposed four packaging formats that must be produced from compostable material, which means that all these products (fruit and vegetables; fruit and vegetable stickers; tea and coffee bags and single-dose coffee or tea systems; and lightweight plastic bags) must be produced from compostable plastic, so that a tea bag or a banana with a sticker on its peel can go directly into the organic waste stream.

All other packaging should go into the material recycling stream. This is a clear system that we will establish in the future, because currently there is a lot of confusion and a «gray area» for these theoretically biodegradable packaging formats.

The third important area of intervention is recycled content in plastic packaging.

The proposal puts forward many measures to reduce plastic packaging, but also to increase the circularity of the plastic packaging sector.

One of the main factors to boost circularity is the establishment of a «closed loop» of quality recycled content.


Redacción Opportimes