The recycled content in packaging has grown a 22% in the last two years, which will result in a reduction of the consumption of single-use plastics of at least 1.1 million tonnes by 2025
When the European Parliament approved the circular economy measures in 2018, it included ambitious recycling targets for plastics that were to be toughened five years later. While in the first few years, Member States were to recycle 50% of plastic waste, by 2025 this percentage must be increased to a 55%. The problem of plastic pollution was finally being assessed and discussions on possible solutions taking place.
So, more than 500 companies, governments and other organizations joined to work on a common idea of a circular economy for plastics, one in which plastics never become waste. As signatories to the Global Commitment to the New Plastics Economy, these organisations set real targets for 2025, with the desire to help it happen.
Challenges achieved vs. tasks ahead
Today, two years later, it is time to review the challenges that have been achieved and those that remain. This has been presented in ‘The Global Commitment 2020 Progress Report’, issued by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. In this report, for the first time, it is possible to quantify the progress made between 2018 and 2019 by the signatories, who represent more than 20% of the plastic packaging market.
Other topics of interest: Sustainability, a key factor in the packaging of fruit and vegetable products
The recycled content in packaging has grown by 22% in the last two years and, on top of that, the consumption of single-use plastics will have been reduced by at least 1.1 million tonnes by 2025. This also represents a CO2 saving equivalent to taking more than 350,000 cars off the road.
Source: Ellen MacArthur Foundation
The Global Commitment 2020 Progress Report
However, there is still work to be done, and it needs to be done fast, to achieve the goals set by the European Union for 2025. Also, some signatories of the New Plastic Economy must match their results with other participants who have achieved a better performance.
The effects of COVID-19
However, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be ignored. This situation has further exposed the drawbacks of continuing with a linear economy and highlighted the urgent need to rethink how we produce, use and reuse plastics. There has been, for example, higher demand of take-out food containers and bubble wrap – most of which are non-recyclable – and the slow-down or reversal of policies aimed at reducing single-use plastic products.
A circular economy is not only an opportunity to tackle plastic pollution at its source, but also to build a more resilient and regenerative economy, helping to restore the environment, create jobs and benefit society.
Other issues of interest: Technologies to curb climate change will shape the future
This crisis has also highlighted the speed with which the world can mobilise change, as demonstrated by digitisation, for example. And therefore, the economic recovery plans are a great opportunity to implement the necessary measures around plastic pollution and ensure a sustainable and circular recovery.