Since 1993, the entire PET (PolyEthylene Terephthalate) value chain has been ready to industrially recycle PET, to an extent that the PET recycling companies have always been in overcapacity in the EU. Ambitious recycling targets have been set by the EU Plastics Strategy; to make sure that the collection and sorting will meet the recycling capacities, Petcore Europe and the Parliament Magazine organised two round table discussion in the European Parliament. During the first one on 19 February, the PET industry shared best practices with EU policymakers, NGOs and stakeholders alike.
The second event on 20 March, kindly hosted by MEP Mark Demesmaeker, focused on ways forward regarding collection and sorting: Patrick Laevers from Fost Plus presented Belgium's "best in class" curbside collection system, while Wolfgang Ringel from Tomrafocused on the strong sides of deposit schemes. Gian De Belder from Procter & Gamblepresented the Pioneer project “HolyGrail” where brand owners and other stakeholder work on tagging of plastic packaging for accurate sorting.
Christian Crépet, Executive Director of Petcore Europe knows: "European PET recyclers lack material to reprocess, to an extent that there is an unused capacity of 296.400 tonnes. Insufficient quantity and quality of collection can be observed in several EU countries. Increased collection and sorting of PET bottles and trays, be it via curbside collection or deposit schemes, would ensure sustainability and circularity of PET packaging. Harmonised EU post consumer waste bottle streams are necessary."
Event Host MEP Mark Demesmaeker pointed out that the circular economy for plastics is a big opportunity to invest and innovate in the entire value chain and to turn public concern into shared responsibility. He stressed the fact that the Single Use Plastics Directive will bring separate collection targets of 90 % for PET beverage bottles by 2029, an important achievement. These binding targets are a necessary driver also according to MEP Maria Spyraki, who hosted the first round table event.
Grzegorz Raziejewski, Member of Cabinet of Commissioner Jyrki Katainen and Malgorzata Golebiewska from DG ENVI shared the European Commissions plan to drive collection and sorting. The Circular Plastics Alliance with a dedicated working group focusing on collection and sorting, investment in innovative technologies, as well as guidelines on separate collection including best practices are only a few of the tools deployed by the EC.
Industry representatives from the entire PET value chain and policy makers will have to collaborate in order to reach the ambitious collection and recycling targets. Petcore Europe is eager to play an essential role with its dedicated working groups and the expertise of its 70 members.