Plastics Europe supports recommendations from ReShaping Plastics report: Faster system change towards circularity and CO2-neutrality is needed

Plastics Europe, through the plastic producers in Europe, is pleased with the extensive and comprehensive report: “ReShaping Plastics: Pathways to a Circular, Climate Neutral Plastics System in Europe”, in other words: routes to a circular and climate neutral European plastics system. The Brussels-based association supports the main findings of the report: that faster system change is necessary and that it is vital that all parties involved in the plastics system work together with European policymakers. Plastics Europe also recognizes that circularity is the flywheel for a real turnaround in the industry in the short and medium term. To further the analysis and findings of the report and to accelerate the transition, Plastics Europe has announced a package of measures. It will also work hard to follow the recommendation to arrive at a new supportive policy framework that stimulates investment and innovation and promotes a competitive and creative innovation climate.

The “ReShaping Plastics” report published today was developed by SYSTEMIQ, supervised by an independent governance committee and expert panel, with input from representatives from EU institutions, NGOs, science and industry. European plastics producers commissioned the report to provide guidance in finding the most effective answers to the climate crisis and the challenge of plastic waste. The aim of the study was to critically evaluate current progress and evaluate the potential of different measures in terms of meeting the EU target for carbon neutrality and circularity by 2050.

The report explores a range of scenarios based on currently available market data on innovations, commitments made and policies already in the pipeline. This was then projected into seven scenarios, which show how different elements, measures and expected technologies will work out in the long term. The report confirms that circularity is the main catalyst for reducing CO2 in the system in the short and medium term. It also emphasizes the need to involve all upstream and downstream measures, including mechanical and chemical recycling, the use of alternative raw materials, such as bio-based fuels, as well as the design of products for recycling and reuse. To be able to significantly reduce plastic waste and CO2, it is also necessary to have sufficient access to low-carbon sources and renewable energy.

Faster systemic change requires a significant upscaling of private and public investments – in the short and longer term – far-reaching technological innovations, new infrastructure and new business models. On the other hand, the authors also acknowledge that replacing plastics with other materials offers little prospect of achieving CO2 neutrality.

dr. Markus Steilemann, President of Plastics Europe: “The plastics industry has an important role in reducing emissions, reducing waste and increasing circularity. It is high time to replace fossil raw materials with circular raw materials with a significantly lower carbon footprint. The report outlines a range of options and scenarios for getting there. We will study them carefully. Of course, we don’t yet have all the answers to the challenges that lie on our plate. That is also why the report calls for more intensive and constructive collaboration with our value chain and policy makers.” “It is encouraging that the report recognizes that plastics play a vital role in achieving the wider EU goal of climate neutrality. Plastics play an important role in reducing emissions in other sectors, such as construction, the automotive industry, packaging and the medical world. They are indispensable for the development of renewable energy technologies.”

Plastics producers have no illusions about the scale, scope and complexity of the transition. They have also been investing and innovating for quite some time and on a large scale in a revision of the plastic system. Moreover, with partners in the value chain, we are working hard on developments such as new design thinking, behavioral change, better-performing products, eco-design innovations and new infrastructures. They are also driving major changes in making their production processes more sustainable, including investments in recycling technologies, renewable energy and in the production of more bio-based plastics and plastics from other potential carbon sources, such as through CO2 capture and reuse (CCS). . This transition has accelerated in recent years, but due to the long investment cycles inherent in this industry, it will take several years to see the benefits.

Virginia Janssens, Managing Director of Plastics Europe, adds: “Our members are investing heavily and on a large scale in a reorganization of their production and technology base. To further accelerate this transition, we need a policy framework and framework that drives investment and promotes a creative and competitive innovation climate. We need to protect and use the strength of the single European market to put in place workable mechanisms and measures so that European industry remains globally competitive in the transition to climate neutral.”

In order to be successful in such a new circumstance, we must be assured of the availability of sufficient high-quality raw materials. And also from sufficiently affordable renewable and low-CO2 energy sources. That requires policies that are stable, long-term oriented and consistent across member states so as to aid industry innovation in this rapidly developing world.

Plastics Europe itself is also coming up with a package of measures to help implement the report’s recommendations and accelerate the industry transition. This includes:

  1. The development of a roadmap in which Plastics Europe and its members further elaborate the accelerated transition path to 2050. This includes setting interim milestones and targets, as well as elaborating on the more ambitious recommendation of mechanisms to be developed that should contribute to a faster and more intensive industrial transition. At the same time, the roadmap will also be the tool for reporting and evaluating where the industry stands in achieving the goals.
  2. Ensuring that Plastics Europe’s views and recommendations are developed and aligned with the goal of accelerating the transition of the plastic system towards higher circularity and carbon neutrality by 2050.
  3. We will work hard for the establishment of a multi-stakeholder platform in 2022, modeled on the ‘plastics transition committee’ proposed in the report. To ensure that a more intensive and constructive dialogue and cooperation between stakeholders can get off the ground.

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