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3 Jan 2019 - TOMRA Collection Solutions shows how a circular economy can be accomplished through adapting existing waste recycling infrastructure, viewing plastic as a valuable resource instead of waste.

There has been a seismic shift in public attitudes to waste and recycling recently and policymakers have been implementing ambitious targets and new regulation all over the world. The EU is no exception, having announced a series of new laws that will undoubtedly change the waste recycling infrastructure of EU Member States.

At the root of this new legislation is the circular economy and the EU’s desire to manage its own waste recycling infrastructure more effectively, further fuelled by restrictions put in place by countries that traditionally accepted the EU’s waste.

TOMRA Collection Solutions, the world leader in reverse vending, is present in more than 60 markets worldwide working to create a more circular economy. The Norwegian company collects 35 billion used beverage containers per year within deposit return schemes for closed loop recycling.

Waste crackdowns

The EU currently recycles only about a quarter of the 25-26 million tonnes of plastic waste it produces annually, about half of which was sent to China. However, when China’s National Sword policy was introduced in February 2018, 24 types of waste material were banned and the purity level of accepted items greatly increased.

The world’s reliance on China as a depot for pre-sorted but dirty waste has been thrown into sharp focus, and with an influx of materials being diverted from China, other waste importing countries are following suit with restrictions. In August, Thailand banned the imports of plastic and electronic waste. Then, in October, Malaysia’s hugely strained recycling industry – which was inundated with 88,000 tonnes of the UK’s plastic scrap and 150,000 tonnes from the US – announced similar restrictions on plastics imports.

As countries close their borders to poor quality recyclables, Europe’s waste exporting countries are planning how they are going to manage the tidal wave of rubbish they traditionally exported and are looking inwards to improve their own waste recycling infrastructure.

New EU recycling targets

Through the Circular Economy Package, EU Member States have signed up to a number of legislative proposals on waste, including a 75% target recycling rate on packaging waste by 2030. Additionally, in October, the European Commission announced that not only would plastic drinking bottles have to include a minimum of 35% recycled content by 2025, but also that Member States must collect and recycle 90% of these beverage containers.

In addition to China’s waste import ban, the catalyst for this legislation has been heightened awareness of an increasing environmental pollution crisis. Implementing these ambitious targets to streamline the waste recycling infrastructure will bring many benefits and by managing resources more efficiently, EU countries will create green jobs, manufacture higher quality products and deliver a more sustainable and circular model of production.

Circular economy explained

While many governments are realising that our industrial model is no longer sustainable and are increasingly willing to take action, a circular economy can seem like an intangible or distant goal.

But a circular economy would have wide-ranging benefits and can be introduced very practically, says TOMRA’s circular economy advisor, Kristine M. Berg: “The circular economy is all about the positive environmental impacts of keeping resources in closed loops. This includes the direct benefits of the waste recycling infrastructure such as reducing carbon emissions, but I would argue that it also covers much wider benefits of reducing demand for virgin materials and triggering improvements in consumer behaviour.”

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.governmenteuropa.eu/waste-recycling-infrastructure/91658/

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Publication date: 
Publication Organisation: 
Circular economy
Thematic Area: 
Marine pollution