Event report: "A New Paradigm for Plastics and Their Role in the EU’s Zero-Emission Economy Plans" on 25 March
Virginia Janssens, Managing Director PlasticsEurope, joined EU Environment Commissioner Sinkevičius and leading policy experts on 25 March to debate the role of plastics in Europe’s economy, with a particular emphasis on Poland. Organised by Euractiv Poland, and under the patronage of the European Commission and the Polish Ministry of Development, Labour and Technology, the event was entitled "A New Paradigm for Plastics and Their Role in the EU’s Zero-Emission Economy Plans".
In a constructive debate, Virginia Janssens used the event as an opportunity to call for a consistent and harmonised regulatory framework, and a strong functioning internal market. Collaboration with value chain partners, policy makers and NGOs will provide the required infrastructure to facilitate progress and innovation in recycling. EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius recognised the potential of chemical recycling, as a complementary tool to mechanical recycling but pointed out that the technology needs to deliver a better environmental impact.
Other panel guests included Adam Jarubas (MEP | ENVI), Joan Marc Simon (Director | Zero Waste Europe), Marlena Tryka (Deputy Director of the Department of Innovation and Industrial Policy | Ministry of Economic Development, Labour and Technology) and Paulo Da Silva Lemos (Policy Officer for Sustainable Products and Plastics at DG Environment | European Commission).
Bringing a critical voice to the table, Joan Marc Simon, Executive Director of Zero Waste Europe, highlighted the challenges around additives in plastics and their impact on health which are as yet not fully understood. His contribution to the debate revolved around reusable packaging and increasing resource efficiency, to plastics reduction and improved use. He suggested system substitution rather than material substitution as a solution with potential benefits for the environment, health and jobs.
Although the SUP Directive can help in tackling plastic waste, it will not solve the situation, stressed MEP Adam Jarubas (EPP Group, ENVI Member). He proposed adopting good practice contracts with trade partners from countries that contribute the most to global pollution. Something similar to the carbon border mechanism could also help in finding solutions to the waste issue.
EU Environment Commissioner Sinkevičius recognised the potential of chemical recycling as a complementary tool to mechanical recycling. But he pointed out that this technology really needs to deliver a better environmental impact than other available routes such as incineration or energy recovery. In our transition towards a circular economy, the European Commission acknowledges that industry needs their support for success. Having EU-wide harmonisation to ensure a level playing field across all the sectors and Member States is key.
Virginia Janssens called for a consistent and harmonised regulatory framework along with a strong functioning internal market to support industry through its transformation and ensure our investments will pay off. Only by working together collaboratively with value chain partners, policy makers and NGOs can we make the recycling happen and chemical recycling happen.
“The circular economy is not just recycling and plastic packaging. Equal importance is now being given to the connection between climate and circularity, ensuring that the objective of recycling our packaging, cars or buildings is to capture the value of the material at the end of its life and promote the most sustainable resource streams. Plastics will play its part in delivering on the European Green Deal – our members take this flagship initiative as their North Star for investment strategies.”, added Virginia Janssens.
Referring to Virginia’s remarks, Marlena Tryka, Deputy Director of the Department of Innovation and Industrial Policy, Polish Ministry of Economic Development, Labour and Technology, highlighted the importance of close collaboration between all industry stakeholders and authorities both at national and international level in order to introduce necessary measures as evolution rather that revolution.
Closing the debate, Paulo Da Silva Lemos, Policy Officer at DG Environment, European Commission spoke about the resilience funds launched by the European Commission. This is where recycling and recycled content play an instrumental role in improving the competitiveness and resilience of our economy.
You can view the full debate here.
Euractiv.pl article summarising the debate is available here.