Updated: Jul 7, 2020
The 21st century urgency
Recycling, Reuse and Circular Economy
The catastrophic forecast that estimates that by 2050 in our seas there will be more plastic than fish has gained in the last ten years or so a growing public attention, greatly widening the front of those who have always been active in policies to protect the environment and combat pollution of the planet and raising awareness even those who have never been concerned about the issue. The media has also been more committed to providing information and in-depth analysis on the phenomenon of plastic pollution, creating media campaigns to raise public awareness.
In addition to government institutions, environmental associations and supporters of recycling, there are other parties involved in various ways in the defense of the planet with the common desire to solve the problems with clear legislative measures and not avoidable.
An important step in this direction, at least at the political level, was taken by the European Parliament, which on 24 October 2018 expressed a favorable opinion on the EU directive on the restriction of certain disposable plastic articles. In March 2019 the directive was definitively approved by the Parliament and in May the EU Council gave the formal green light (only the publication in the Official Journal is missing) for the entry into force of the rules against single-use articles.
Confirmed the ban on the sale and use, from 2021, of some single-use items:
1. Common plastics (excluding those for professional and industrial use):
2. Oxo-plastic = plastics containing additives, whose fragmentation into tiny fractions as a result of ultraviolet radiation or heat should speed up their disintegration and subsequent biodegradation but which have in fact been found not to be conclusively biodegradable within a reasonable period of time in air, landfill or the marine environment. On the contrary, it would even appear that oxo plastics contribute to the microplastics pollution of the marine environment, and that potential toxic effects cannot be excluded.
3. Expanded polystyrene (EPS) for fast-food and take-away packaging
Furthermore, Mandatory labelling is introduced to indicate to the consumer the correct disposal and to remind him of the negative impact in case of abandonment in the environment. The label must contain eco-labels that are useful for the correct separate collection of packaging, such as the code of plastic packaging (PP, HDPE, LDPE, PS, PET, PVC) and the indication that it must not be released into the environment after use.
The text also introduces the key directive on extended producer responsibility for plastic products, setting stricter collection and recycling targets for bottles: member countries will have to collect 90% of what is released for consumption by 2029, (77%) by 2025, while from 2025 plastic bottles will have to contain a minimum of 25% recycled material, a percentage that will rise to 30% in 2030. Plastic beverage packages must also have caps and lids attached to the container. The directive provides for different dates for the transposition of measures, which we will specify better from the effective date of entry into force of the bans and obligations, but that in principle provides that the labelling requirements must be implemented two years after entry into force; the obligation to fix the caps and lids to containers for beverages up to three liters must be transposed no later than five years after the entry into force of the directive. Finally, depending on the product, the additional extended producer responsibility obligations will have to be met between January 2019 and December 2024.
THE HOPE ?
In essence, we now have a legislative model to defend and promote internationally given the global nature of the problem.
But if the pollution alert has given the right wake at social and political level and the consequent legislative strategies undertaken go in the direction that satisfies environmentalists for the protection of the health of the planet and of all of us, the producers and processors of plastics criticize the measure and through the various trade associations at both national and European level express their deep concern about the effects of the directives on the entire chain of the plastics industry.
The only long-term solution that can satisfy all the actors of this historic change seems to be to reduce plastic waste by recycling and reusing more. It is a challenge that businesses, public administrations and citizens must face together, with a view to a new circular economy, whose dual objective is to protect the environment and at the same time lay the foundations for a new economy of plastics, in which design and production fully respect the demands of reuse, repair and recycling.
Soluzioni Plastiche srl is in a crucial position in a circular vision of the plastics market, providing companies with its extensive knowledge on the various possibilities of recycling of thermoplastic and thermosetting materials and through the best business partners ensures the easiest and cheapest disposal of these materials in a sustainable manner.
Credit to: Polimerica del 21/5/2019; 28/3/2019; 26/10/2018; 21/2/2018 (S. Ricci); www.greenme.it 1/3/2018 (D. Trunfio); Uff. Stampa Commissione Europea del 16/1/2018