Proposed Plastics Directive Part Two

As last week’s blog on the Proposed Plastic Directive outlines, we have covered the history and the why. This blog will cover the EU’s proposed approach and our recommendations.  

EU Focus begins by using established methods, like Pareto Analysis and the Japanese principle of “The Last Grain of Rice” that identify the 10 most common items, and to eliminate these – before tackling the next 10 items.

It is obvious that the EU’s Single Use Strategy only makes sense if it become a Global Strategy and that is clearly the EU’s intention.   Europe does not want its beaches to look like those in the photo below.

EU Policy also has a financial aspect and sets a target of reducing recycling cost by up to 120 Euros per tonne. This number is not likely to excite engineers and designers who are designing products that may never exceed 1 tonne throughout their entire life cycle

But the issue is that 26 million tonnes of plastic waste are generated in Europe every year and saving or 2.5 billion Euros ($2.9 b) are worth chasing. BTW industrialized nations create about 100 kg of plastic waste per person per annum.  The EU Wishes to avoid this scene from China:

This latest EU legislation is intended to achieve “greater recycling and re-use, and bring benefits for both the environment and the economy. The plans will extract the maximum value and use from all raw materials, products and waste, fostering energy savings and reducing Green House Gas emissions.”

Annex 1 The real issue
Laudable though the EU policy may be it will have little effect on the contamination in our oceans, water and food sources – The Issue must be addressed across the whole planet.
Scientific research is definitive that we must take action to prevent us from contaminating the whole world.

  • If we plan to supply goods into the EU then we need to take action now to minimize our cost of compliance. If we are not planning to supply into the EU then it would be a smart move is to take what little action we can at zero or minimal cost – once again to minimize our cost of compliance when this becomes a whole world issue.Annex 2 Recommendations

    First scope out the issue at product and production level and if compliance would be a Mouse or an Elephant? (Both are gray, have ears and a tail – the importance is in their size.)  If compliance would be easy and zero (or little) cost then go for it – you can add it to your marketing literature and get a major advantage over your competition. Shareholders like to know about positive environmental efforts – particularly when you report that it will not hurt their dividends.a. Scope what is used

    Start by identifying how much (kg) of each type of plastic you use – for each product:
    · In product
    · Packaging
    · Shipping
    · Returned packaging
    · Maintenance (e.g. toner cartridges)
    · End of Life – should be the same as at the beginning but may not be due to maintenance and replacement partsThis will probably take a few days for the first product, but once you have completed the analysis on five products it should be down to a few hours.Record your words as a Standard Operating Procedure for other to follow and make spreadsheet public.b. Review the facts

    Look for Trends – do some project teams or individual designers have better use patterns – build on strengths and EDUCATE weaker team members.
    Can you recycle and use recyclable plastic in more applications?
    Can you reduce flame retardants – plasticizers and other (EU) REACH listed chemicals AND the Chemicals under the Toxic Substances Control Act – click for details >> (TSCA)
    Congratulations – you have begun to protect both your company and the environment. By acting now your company is aware that massive changes will be coming down the pike and you are prepared and ahead of them.c. Timelines

    – Plastics and products containing plastics are designed to allow for greater durability,Re-use and high-quality recycling. By 2030, all plastics packaging placed on the EU
    market is either reusable or can be recycled in a cost-effective manner.- Changes in production and design enable higher plastics recycling rates for all key
    applications. By 2030, more than half of plastics waste generated in Europe is recycled.Separate collection of plastics waste reaches very high levels. Recycling of plastics packaging waste achieves levels comparable with those of other packaging materials.- EU plastics recycling capacity is significantly extended and modernized. By 2030, sorting
    and recycling capacity has increased fourfold since 2015, leading to the creation of
    200 000 new jobs, spread all across Europe.

COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS – A European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy {SWD(2018) 16 final}

‘A vision for Europe’s new plastics economy’

A smart, innovative and sustainable plastics industry, where design and production fully
respects the needs of reuse, repair, and recycling, brings growth and jobs to Europe and helps cut EU’s greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on imported fossil fuels.

– Thanks to improved separate collection and investment in innovation, skills and capacity
up-scaling, export of poorly sorted plastics waste has been phased out. Recycled plastics
have become an increasingly valuable feed stock for industries, both at home and abroad.

– The plastics value chain is far more integrated, and the chemical industry works closely
with plastics recyclers to help them find wider and higher value applications for their
output. Substances hampering recycling processes have been replaced or phased out.

– The market for recycled and innovative plastics is successfully established, with clear
growth perspectives as more products incorporate some recycled content. Demand for
recycled plastics in Europe has grown four-fold, providing a stable flow of revenues for the recycling sector and job security for its growing workforce.

– More plastic recycling helps reduce Europe’s dependence on imported fossil fuel and cut
CO2 emissions, in line with commitments under the Paris Agreement.

– Innovative materials and alternative feedstocks for plastic production are developed and
used where evidence clearly shows that they are more sustainable compared to the non-
renewable alternatives. This supports efforts on decarbonisation and creating additional opportunities for growth.

– Europe confirms its leadership in sorting and recycling equipment and technologies.
Exports rise in lockstep with global demand for more sustainable ways of processing end-
of-life plastics.