EU plastics strategy requires investment in recycling technology

Date

16 Jan 2018

Sections

Climate & Environment

Brussels, 16. January 2018 - The EU hopes to reduce or entirely do away with plastic waste in Europe – but from the perspective of the German mechanical engineering industry, this will mean a need for greater capital investment in state-of-the-art recycling technology. “The technologies to do a better job of recycling plastic waste and achieve a substantial reduction in waste volumes already exist,” says Naemi Denz, member of the board of the Engineering Federation VDMA. “But for a number of reasons, these opportunities are not drawn on as thoroughly as they should be.”

The strategy for circular plastic economy proposed by the European Commission on 16 January is a step in the right direction, in VDMA’s view. “The EU’s initiative can help to leverage the existing potentials for recycling in Europe,” says Denz. “But the path toward a genuine market for recycled plastic is a long one.” Even the best recycling plants can be operated profitably only if continued efforts are made to refine the product design, standardise collection and separation throughout Europe and ensure the material is of high quality.

However, the mechanical engineering industry is critical of a proposed product passport, which would require businesses to supply a range of information about their products in digital form, e.g. their chemical composition. “This proposal creates a sense of unease in the industry, since businesses are worried about their commercial secrets,” says Denz. “The kind of product passport being talked about goes much too far, in our view. For example, traceability of chemicals used in products should continue to be governed by the European Regulation on Chemicals and concentrate on substances of very high concern.” Plastics are being increasingly used in the mechanical engineering industry as a result of the trend toward lightweight construction.

VDMA (Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau, Mechanical Engineering Industry Association) represents more than 3,200 mostly medium-sized companies in the capital goods industry, making it the largest industry association in Europe. With more than 1 million employees in Germany and a turnover of 219 bn. Euro (2016), the mechanical engineering industry is the largest industrial employer in Germany and one of the leading industries overall.

 

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