Over the last decades, the European recycling industries have drastically evolved by modernizing and constantly innovating to turn more waste streams into new resources. By doing so, the sector has contributed to the development of new technologies and automated equipment made in Europe and exported around the globe. The European regulatory framework has accompanied these changes thanks to ambitious targets and a meaningful waste hierarchy. However, the recycling sector continues to be subject to a complex and ever-growing EU regulatory framework, which affects its activities. To ensure a competitive European recycling sector, which is part of a global industry, EuRIC advocates clear, effective and smart European policies which:
- Incentivise recycling across the value chains;
- Minimise regulatory burdens on recyclers, in particular on SMEs;
- Guarantee an open and fair competition within Europe and with the world to foster a genuine internal recycling market.
EuRIC also advocates positive measures to ensure a consistent implementation of existing legislation across Europe.
EuRIC Press Release - Decisive actions needed to support plastics recycling in Europe
The European plastics recycling industry has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Plummeting oil prices have resulted in a sharp decline of virgin plastics prices.
The cost structure and the carbon footprint of virgin and recycled polymers are completely different, yet they compete on prices stresses, Paul Mayhew, President of EuRIC Plastics’ Recycling Branch (EPRB).
Sharp drop in prices and demand for recycled plastics, which can’t compete with virgin polymer prices resulting from the crash in crude oil values, jeopardize the economic viability of many plastics recyclers across Europe, be them active in packaging, engineering or construction and demolition waste plastics recycling, as recently echoed1. Should the current situation continue, the impacts will be far-reaching putting at risks both the attainment of the objectives set in the EU Green Deal and the New Circular Economy Action Plan which require to scale up – not to diminish – the European recycling capacity and resulting in the loss of green jobs in various Member States.
The only positive development relates to food-grade r-PET which thanks to recycled content targets set by the Single-Use Plastics Directive has weathered the storm with stable demand and price, completely de-correlated from plummeting oil and virgin prices, since brand-owners are gearing up for the 2025 and 2030 targets in beverage bottles.
The two-tier market witnessed in the current crisis where plastics used in applications not subject to binding sustainability targets sees there prices driven by short-term cost-savings offered by the crash of oil values versus plastics used in applications benefiting from sustainability targets whose price-setting follows a positive trend, regardless of the crisis, is the ultimate proof of the need to set targets of incorporation of recycled materials in new products, emphasized Sophie Sicard, Vice-President of the EPRB.
EuRIC calls for urgent measures to support plastics recycling in Europe:
- Systemic support in Member States to the plastics recycling industry, in particular in mechanisms to stimulate the demand for recycled materials;
- Pragmatic mandatory EU recycled content targets for plastics commonly used in products to stimulate the demand for recycled materials and secure investments to scale up capacity and create jobs in Europe;
- Incentives, be them market or tax-based, to close the price gap between virgin and recycled plastics proportionally to the well-documented CO2 and energy savings from plastics recycling.
EuRIC - Plastic Recycling Fact Sheet
Plastic is an important and ubiquitous material in our daily lives and for the European economy. However, to maximize their multiple benefits and mitigate environmental impacts, improving the circularity of plastics at all stages of the value chain – design, production, use and recycling phases – is instrumental. Recycling plays a key role in that respect by turning waste into high-quality recyclates. By doing so, it contributes to save virgin resources, greenhouse gas emissions and energy.
The Brochure highlights the importance of moving towards a circular economy for plastics in Europe. It identifies the most commonly used types of plastics and describes the current state-of-play, challenges faced by the European mechanical plastics recycling industry alongside with key recommendations to overcome them. Plastics recycling’s environmental benefits and economic importance is also touched upon.
Paul Mayhew, President of EuRIC’s Plastic Recycling Branch (EPRB) and General Manager at MBA Polymers, emphasized the major contribution that plastics recycling can make towards a circular economy for improving Europe’s competitiveness and resource efficiency.
Moving towards a more sustainable economy for plastics will deliver considerable benefits. What is missing in order to speed up that transition are measures to stimulate the demand for recycled plastics in products through recycled content targets and incentives rewarding their environmental benefits when compared with virgin plastics and a more consistent legislative framework. It is essential to further restrict landfill and incineration of but also better control unprocessed plastic waste exports outside Europe to countries with lower recycling standards.
These measures are even more urgent today with the plastic recycling industry which has been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with a plummeting demand and overly low virgin plastics prices with whom recycled polymers compete.
Following the substantiated call for recycled content of plastics in new cars recently launched by EuRIC, this factsheet will be followed by other publications stressing the vital role played by the recycling industry to realize the transition towards a circular economy and to make of the EU the first world-class economy to achieve climate-neutrality by 2050.
Characterisation of fires caused by batteries in WEEE
More and more electrical and electronic products in everyday life contain batteries, making life more convenient or pleasant. However, those same batteries, when damaged, also increasingly cause these products to catch fires.
In the past few months, organisations representative of the industry that manages the collection and treatment of spent batteries and electronic waste (WEEE) and of manufacturers of home appliances and consumer electronics gathered to exchange views about this issue of growing concern in order to design measures to counter the frequent occurrence of fires. A survey among recyclers resulted in a better understanding of the issue of fires in the WEEE management chain. The report, “Characterisation of fires caused by batteries in WEEE”, has been prepared by EuRIC and the WEEE Forum with the active contribution of experts from various organisations including the co-signatories namely EERA, EUCOBAT, Municipal Waste Europe and the WEEELABEX Organisation. It seeks to jointly assess the severity of the issue.
The survey shows that the number of fires in the WEEE management chain is going up and that the fires mainly occur in mixed WEEE. Damaged batteries are seen as responsible for those fires.
“Battery fires are one of the most important issue impacting recyclers currently” says Emmanuel Katrakis, Secretary General at EuRIC, the European Recycling Industries’ Confederation. “This fact-based report confirms that fires occur at every stage of the collection and treatment of WEEE, but we see a higher prevalence during treatment and at the logistics and pre-treatment stages during storage”, the survey tells us that for most fires, there is a high prevalence of frequent yet small thermal events that cause no or little damage. The most severe fires identified by respondents were mostly described as intense fires and lasting between 1 to 6 hours. More than a third of the respondents reports one of those severe fires. The report roughly estimates the average costs associated to most frequent fires in 190 000 €, and 1.3 M€ for most severe fires.
The report includes a set of recommendations to further investigate some aspects that were addressed in the survey, but for which an in-depth analysis is key to have a better grasp of the issue. This includes for instance consequences for the reuse sector, the efficiency of the rules concerning the international carriage of dangerous goods by road (ADR), or the detailed cost breakdown of damages caused by battery fires.
“This report provides a set of facts and figures”, says Pascal Leroy, Director General at the WEEE Forum, the international voice of e-waste producer responsibility organisations. “It was extremely important to carry out that work collectively in a Roundtable, gathering the most relevant representative organisations in order to develop a shared understanding of the issues of concern. A follow-up report will analyse best practices to tackle fires associated with batteries”, he added.
Joint open letter of EuRIC, FEAD and CEWEP for a green recovery
EuRIC, the European Recycling Industries Confederation, issues a joint call together with FEAD and CEWEP to put the Green Deal and the new Circular Economy Action Plan at the forefront the post COVID-19 recovery.
Cinzia VEZZOSI, President of EuRIC, stressed, in a statement issued together with the joint call, the key role played by Europe’s recycling industry in turning waste into valuable raw materials while saving greenhouse gas emissions and energy. For EuRIC President, it is vital to use the momentum of the post COVID-19 crisis to direct a significant part of massive public investments towards circular industrial value chains and infrastructures needed to make Europe climate-neutral by 2050.
In that respect, the joint call highlights the importance of prioritizing certain measures aiming at:
- Stimulating the demand for secondary raw materials through incentives, their greenhouse gas emissions and energy savings, recycled content targets and green public procurement to bridge circular economy and climate policy;
- Further strengthening the internal market and, in particular, fasten the creation of a well-functioning EU market for secondary raw materials thanks to simplified waste shipment procedures and EU-wide end-of-waste criteria;
- Speeding up work on eco-design to ensure that tomorrow’s products will last longer and be easier to recycle when reaching end-of-life;
- Enhancing investment certainty by implementing current recycling targets and resuming a fact-based discussion on proper treatment of unrecyclable waste in Europe, through energy-recovery or final disposal.
BIR and EuRIC Joint Statement: Second-hand clothing imports are presumed to be safe
BIR and EuRIC would like to express concern about the restrictions issued by some countries to stop the import of second hand clothing based on the presumption that clothes coming from Europe or elsewhere may be contaminated with the coronavirus.
EuRIC Comment on Tyre Ecodesign to Boost Circular Economy
Tyres are becoming more and more sophisticated. Yet, they are still perishable and have to be recycled when reaching end of life stage.
Read more on the subject by downloading the file below.
EuRIC Position on EPR Schemes for Textiles
Nowadays, our clothes are discarded and replaced by new items faster than ever before. According to a report published by the European Environment Agency (EEA), Europeans have purchased more clothing for less money over recent years due to the fast fashion phenomenon which promotes increased consumption and reduces the life span of clothing. For example, in Bulgaria the quantity of new textile products and footwear placed on the market has increased by about 122% in seven years (Denkstatt Bulgaria – Regulatory Impact Assessment of EPR for Shoes and Textiles in Bulgaria - Extended Summary Report).
The fast fashion trend, combined with the separate collection requirement for textiles by 2025 will automatically further increase the number of textiles collected. Currently, the collection of textiles is financed by revenues generated by the preparation for re-use and the marketing of second-hand textiles. However, in the future with an increase of separately collected textiles and a further drop in quality – due to lower quality products placed onto the market originally – the revenues generated will not be sufficient to cover all costs associated with the collection, sorting and recycling. Therefore, it is essential that markets for and the use of recycled textiles’ fibers are developed resp. incentivized while the markets for second-hand clothing are being maintained.
Setting up Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in the field of textiles for producers and importers of new clothing, in line with the minimum requirements set in the Waste Framework Directive, would be welcomed by the textiles’ re-use and recycling industry only if it helps bridging the design and theend-of-life treatment stages. EPR should also support the existing system of re-use which is the largest activity of the textile recycling industry as well as the demand for recycled fibers.
EuRIC Statement - Impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) for the waste management & recycling industry
EuRIC, the European Recycling Industries’ Confederation, calls on the European Union and competent authorities from Member States and from the UK, Norway and Switzerland to acknowledge:
- The essential role of the waste management and recycling industry in collecting, sorting and recycling of waste from household and industries to protect human health and the environment and
- Its strategic importance for the European economy as a provider of secondary raw materials (SRM) which are critical to downstream industries, some of them directly involved in combatting COVID-19 pandemic.
Hence, EuRIC would like in to raise awareness and call for a few but important measures.
EuRIC Press Release - EuRIC welcomes the New Circular Economy Action Plan
The European Recycling Industries’ Confederation (EuRIC) welcomes the publication of the Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) by the European Commission on 11 March 2020.
As rightly stressed throughout the CEAP, the transition towards a circular economy is instrumental to reach climate neutrality by 2050 and decouple economic growth from resource use. The recycling industry ticks all the boxes by substituting virgin materials and saving a substantial amount of greenhouse gas emissions and energy, while at the same time creating local, non-outsourceable jobs.
EuRIC strongly welcomes in particular the emphasis throughout the CEAP on incentives and recycled content to reward circular products and empower consumers in making sustainable choices. EuRIC has continuously stressed the need to pull the demand for recycled materials and internalise their environmental benefits so as to boost the transition towards a circular economy, said Emmanuel Katrakis, Secretary General of the Confederation. The priority given to circular design that increases recycled content in products with emphasis on plastics in packaging, vehicles and construction materials acknowledges the importance of steering markets towards more circularity, he added.
Creating a well-functioning EU market for secondary raw materials is another welcomed priority of the CEAP echoing EuRIC priorities for 2019-2024. This is where urgent action is needed. The European waste management and recycling market remains deeply fragmented by a myriad of jurisdictions interpreting key aspects of recycling activities across EU borders differently. EuRIC strongly supports the renewed emphasis on EU-wide end-of-waste criteria for key streams. This should go hand in hand with the simplification of the legal framework applicable to recycling activities in particular of waste shipment procedures to alleviate obstacles hindering the recycling of waste into high-quality secondary raw materials.
For European recyclers, access to adequate funding is also absolutely essential given the important disparities in waste management and recycling practices among Member States. Green public procurement, green finance, European funds and incentives have a key role to play in driving both public authorities, markets and citizens towards circularity.
EuRIC and its various material recycling Branches look forward working hand in hand with European policy-makers to translate the ambition of the new CEAP, be it on framework conditions or on key product value chains, into concrete measures that will boost recycling in Europe. This is all the more needed at a time where market conditions are severely impacting various recycling streams.
For further information, please contact EuRIC Secretariat at firstname.lastname@example.org
EuRIC Position on the Revision of the Waste Shipment Regulation
One of the founding assumptions of the circular economy is that wastes are resources. Circular material flows require waste and secondary raw materials to circulate at the pace of businesses to be recycled and used to manufacture new semi-finished and finished products.
The Waste Shipment Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006 (WSR) causes substantial administrative burdens due to overly complex and outdated procedures which make it sometimes impossible for recycling companies to ship secondary raw materials from one EU-Member State to another. Incidentally, it fosters linear material flows as it is, from an administrative procedure, much easier to import raw materials mined or harvested outside Europe with much lower standards than to ship waste for material recovery within the EU.
In line with the goals of the European Green Deal to build an internal market for secondary raw materials, it is much needed to alleviate obstacles to circular value chains in Europe and beyond as well as to boost the market for secondary raw materials. EuRIC therefore calls for a well-functioning market for the shipment of secondary raw materials and proposes in order to do so to improve and simplify the notification procedure as laid down in Article 4 et seq. as well as the Annex VII procedure as laid down in Article 18 et seq. Harmonized electronic waste shipment procedures throughout the EU should become the norm and gradually replace paper based procedures. In doing so, a transition period might be required to ensure that Member States systems are rendered fully interoperable and that operators have the necessary time to adapt.