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EU Commission targets packaging, plastic in Circular Economy Action Plan

Highlights

The European Commission has placed packaging and plastic at the heart of its Circular Economy Action Plan, which was unveiled Wednesday.

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The plan, part of the European Green Deal, addresses key areas in a bid to drive sustainable growth. The areas, which include electronics and ICT, batteries and vehicles, packaging, plastics, textiles, construction and buildings, and food, will all have an impact on plastics use in Europe.

One aspect the Commission looked at was the design of products.

It will strive to pass legislation and develop frameworks to improve both product durability and recyclability, while restricting the use of single-use products. As part of that, frameworks will be built in consultation with industry to increase recycled content in products and improve the circularity of production processes.

Specific to the packaging industry, the Circular Economy Action Plan will look to reduce overpackaging and packaging waste, drive forward the use of packaging that has been designed for recycling and reduce the complexity of packaging.

When it comes to plastic packaging, those are key areas the industry has recognized it needs to improve to increase collection and recycling rates and, therefore, supply and the circularity of plastic.

The EU Strategy for Plastics in the Circular Economy has also set in motion initiatives to increase the uptake of recycled content in packaging, construction materials and vehicles, and to reduce plastic litter, with a key focus on microplastics.

The European Green Deal, unveiled in December, set out the EU's road map towards a climate-neutral circular economy.

"With today's plan we launch action to transform the way products are made and empower consumers to make sustainable choices," Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, said in a statement.

The impact of the increase in demand for recycled plastic as a result of the Commission's action on recycled content is already being felt in the polyethylene terephthalate and high density polyethylene markets. They are two key polymers used in the production of consumer goods packaging.

Northwest European recycled-PET clear flakes were last calculated at a Eur115/mt ($130/mt) premium to virgin, or new, PET, last Wednesday. Recycled-HDPE light colored pellets were calculated at a Eur90/mt premium to virgin HDPE on Tuesday.