The overall production of packaging and generation of packaging waste has been steadily growing over the past 20 years, The most recent data shows that Europe reached the record level of 174 kg of packaging waste per person in 2018, and is now one of the main sources of waste. Recycling has an important role to play in closing the loop, if prevention and reuse are not possible. Therefore, improving and expanding existing infrastructure for recycling is necessary, but will not stop the trend of continual growth of packaging on its own. Waste prevention and reuse practices shall always remain the first option when possible.
The proposal to revise the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD) will address different issues – i.e. prevention; reuse and recycling practices; recycled content targets. The foreseen proposal rightly places an emphasis on increasing recycled content in order to keep already used resources and increase circularity of packaging. This type of measure has consequences for the development of waste management capacity, as shown by the recent development of new recycling technologies in recent years. One of the key objectives is now to ensure that recycled content takes part in the shift towards a more circular economy while positively contributing to meet the EU climate targets.
The proposal considers different scenarios to meet recycled content targets for both food contact sensitive and non-contact sensitive plastic packaging. Enabling technologies to meet the targets cover a wide range of technologies based on different processes – i.e. mechanical recycling, chemical depolymerisation, pyrolysis.
During this event, we presented the main results of our study (commissioned to the Oeko Institute) comparing the climate impact of pyrolysis versus other potential alternatives for recycling food grade plastic packaging.