Plastics Europe’s Roadmap Toward a Greener Future has €235 Billion Price Tag
Polymer producers’ trade association offers a pathway toward circularity
Plastics Europe, the Brussels-based trade association representing polymer producers across the continent, today launched its Plastics Transition roadmap, which it says “establishes a pathway to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the overall plastics system by 28 percent by 2030 and towards net-zero by 2050.”
It also predicts the gradual substitution of fossil-based plastics, and that circular plastics could meet 25 percent of European demand in 2030 and 65 percent by 2050 –– but will require additional investments and operational costs of some €235 billion ($247.9 billion).
This marks the first time the group’s nearly 100 members –– which produce more than 90 percent of all polymers across Europe –– have united around a “hugely ambitious but realist plan to redesign the European plastics system,” according to Plastics Europe Managing Director Virginia Janssens.
The 133-page roadmap, she said, identifies key levers and enablers, and details immediate, short and medium-term milestones and actions for plastics manufacturers. “Whilst acknowledging that our industry must do more to deliver faster systemic change, the roadmap highlights that circularity intrinsically requires a whole value chain approach and includes recommended actions for policymakers and value chain stakeholders, between now and 2030.”
The roadmap underlines the need to establish a European waste management system fit for a net-zero emissions and circular economy; develop minimum circular plastic content targets for key plastics applications to create a market pull for circular plastics; and unlock industry investments in, for example, much-needed chemical recycling infrastructure.
The need to remain competitive
Plastics Europe President Marco ten Bruggencate –– who is Dow EMEA’s commercial vice president of packaging and specialty plastics –– said the group is excited about the opportunities but stressed that policymakers must also ensure the European plastics system remains internationally competitive during the transition. This is vital “if we are to prevent industrial activity and investments migrating out of Europe to other regions, and to avoid becoming increasingly dependent on imports of plastics which do not necessarily meet EU sustainability standards.”
Rob Ingram, lead of Plastics Europe’s Steering Board Roadmap Task Force and CEO of INEOS Olefins & Polymers Europe, criticized the wider European plastics system as being too big, complex, and interconnected for any part of it to successfully deliver a circular and net-zero system alone. “We need to find better ways of listening, talking and deepening our collaboration. The roadmap should be viewed as an invitation to challenge our thinking and identify the areas where we can join forces and progress faster together. To promote this collaboration Plastics Europe is calling on the European Commission to develop a Clean Transition Dialogue for the European plastics system.”
And now for some Fast Facts
Separately, Plastics Europe has launched its new ‘Plastics – the fast Facts 2023’. The infographic offers a more visual, user-friendly format for the publication of preliminary global and European plastics production, trade partners and other key data. The group says that early next year it will publish finalized and more comprehensive data in a biennial report called “Circular Economy for Plastics – A European Overview.”