Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Plastics Pact and Circular Economy Package: New Strategies Revealed in the Sustainable Consumption and Production Debate - Anthesis

Plastics Pact and Circular Economy Package: New Strategies Revealed in the Sustainable Consumption and Production Debate

April 26, 2018 | News,

The global movement to create a more sustainable world continues to gather pace and rise to the top of both political and business agendas. With so many forums debating the different aspects of sustainable production and consumption, decision makers, businesses leaders and members of the public are engaged, but confused in regards to the complexity of the issues. Anthesis has developed a suite of tools and its expert circular economy team is well placed to provide a helping hand.

Developments in the plastics debate

Last week, the UK hosted its largest ever Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit, which aims to address some of the more pressing developmental challenges across the globe. Very much on the agenda this time around was plastics.

In recent times the UK has taken a dedicated stance on tackling the plastics issue, introducing bans on microbeads, charges on plastic bags, proposals to introduce a Deposit Return Scheme on plastic bottles, as well as a new consultation on single-use plastic items such as straws, cotton buds and stirrers.

The UK government has now established a new Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance, aiming to drive action on Sustainable Development Goal 14 (life below water). All 53 Commonwealth countries, accounting for some 2.3 billion people, can sign up to the alliance to help eliminate single-use plastic and reduce marine plastic pollution.

Landmark Circular Economy Package for the EU

It was also a landmark week for the European Union. After almost three years of negotiation the European Parliament formally approved a Circular Economy Package (CEP), which will increase recycling targets and new measures to cut waste across the continent.

The new CEP specifically addresses packaging waste, landfill and all types of electrical and electronic waste (WEEE). This announcement comes after the agreement of a Plastics Strategy in March, which aims to make all plastic packaging recyclable by 2030.

Targets of the EU Circular Economy Package

There are a set of interesting targets that could potentially wide-reaching impacts for diverse range of stakeholders, many of which Anthesis has engaged with over many years.

The agreement means that all 28 EU member states will formally approve the CEP before the laws are officially written into national legislation. After that they will have targets* (see the bottom of this post for the specific targets) to meet which span a number of key areas:

  • Municipal recycling rate of 65% by 2035 (see our guidance for waste management companies and local authorities)
  • Specific packaging targets for 2030, including 70% of all packaging and 55% of plastic packaging
  • Landfill reduction, including a landfill ban of waste suitable for recycling or other recovery by 2030
  • Separate collection for textile waste and hazardous waste from households by 2025
  • Ensure that bio-waste is either collected separately or recycled at source by the end of 2023

The package also contains specific provisions relating to extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes. Producers of products under these schemes will be legally obliged to bear responsibility for the waste stage and how their products are managed at end of life, where they will be required to cover a minimum of 80% of the costs.

With the UK set to leave the EU in 2019, there is an uncertainty over how this legislation will be dealt with post-Brexit, although the UK’s environmental department (Defra) has confirmed that it will be signing up to the CEP.

UK Plastics Pact

42 supermarkets and food companies in the UK have signed up to support the UK Plastics Pact, an initiative which aims to change how packaging is designed and manufactured to reduce all single-use and avoidable plastic waste. Led by WRAP, the pact is a voluntary pledge, but with some of the biggest retailers in the UK signing up who account for 80% of plastic packaging products sold in UK supermarkets, it is a positive step in the journey to eliminate plastic pollution.

By 2025, the Plastics Pact aims to:

  • Eliminate unnecessary single-use plastic packaging through better design
  • Make 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable
  • Make sure 70% of plastic packaging is recycled or composted
  • 30% of all plastic packaging to include recycled material

Download our guide for businesses on tackling the sustainable plastics challenge 

*Specific targets outlined in the EU Circular Economy Package

  • Municipal recycling rate (see our guidance for waste management companies and local authorities):
    • 55% by 2025
    • 60% by 2030
    • 65% by 2035
  • Specific packaging targets for 2030:
    • All packaging – 70%
    • Plastic – 55%
    • Wood – 30%
    • Ferrous metals – 80%
    • Aluminium – 60%
    • Glass – 75%
    • Paper and cardboard – 85%
  • Landfill reduction
    • By 2030 all waste suitable for recycling or other recovery should not be accepted at landfill, except where this is the best environmental outcome
    • By 2035 the amount of municipal waste being sent to landfill to be reduced to less than 10% of the total amount of municipal waste generated
  • EU members will also have until the start of 2025 to set up a separate collection for textile waste and hazardous waste from households and the end of 2023 to ensure that bio-waste is either collected separately or recycled at source, for example home composting.