EuPC’s GA has taken place during the annual two-day Conference that has been organised this year in collaboration with Unionplast (Federazione Gomma Plastica), the Italian plastics converting association. The Conference has proven the interest in our industry and its role in the light of the promised Voluntary Commitments and the coming legislative discussions on the so-called single use plastics.
More than 260 attendees have joined us in Italy, participating in EuPC Divisions’ session and during the main conference. "The plastics processing sector is mainly made up of family-owned companies that rely on industry associations to identify the strategic lines to pursue," said Renato Zelcher, newly elected President of EuPC. In Europe, 50,000 small and medium-sized enterprises have been under constant pressure from the legislators for several months and we must therefore tackle common issues united as a supply chain. The Voluntary Commitments proposed by the industry, together with appropriate regulatory measures, will be able to guide all those involved in the same direction: a more responsible company and an even more sustainable plastic industry.
The European plastics industry has already outlined a platform of Voluntary commitments, with the aim of achieving 70% recycling or reuse of plastic packaging waste and 50% recycling or reuse of all plastic waste in 2040. Rethinking the design and production of products to facilitate post-consumer reuse and recycling certainly is the first step in this direction but the collaboration of institutions on the regulatory level and a greater education of the consumer on a correct and careful management of plastics, in particular mono-use plastics, play a crucial role.
The European Commissioner for Growth Elżbieta Bieńkowska has also participated during the main conference sharing the following thoughts: "The EU demand for plastics stands at about 49 million tons per year, yet only 2-3 million tons of plastic waste is currently recycled. This is both environmentally damaging and economically wasteful. The Commission's aim is to ensure 10 million tons of recycled plastics are annually incorporated into new products by 2025. This is an ambitious target, but by working together with EU industry, I believe we can make it happen – for the benefit of all. This is what the circular economy is all about".
The incoming changes are epochal and represent both challenges and opportunities, from a technological, organisational and market point of view. The two-day conference, promoted by EuPC and Unionplast, have shown the industry’s willingness to become part of the solution, not only contributing to the quantitative growth of recycling, but also helping to improve the quality of recyclates, identifying technical and technological solutions to reduce energy consumption and above all working to find the right balance between the functional needs that plastic products must perform (especially in sensitive sectors such as food packaging) and reduction of their environmental impact.
Through a better design, dialogue and collaboration with stakeholders and a greater commitment to communication and consumer education, the European industry can provide a fundamental contribution to the circular economy in the medium to long-term. The introduction of structural changes that affect the entire supply chain to effectively overcome potential limitations or bans that often only give the impression of immediate success, but instead cause irreparable damage to entire sectors of our economy.
More information on the conference can be found at: www.circularfuturewithplastics.eu.
More information on the plastics industry's voluntary commitments is available at: www.circularplastics.org