The European Union recently launched the third "waste reduction week", emphasizing the need to reduce the use, reuse and recycling of waste. The EU continues to introduce relevant measures to promote an effective response to the problem of plastic waste.
The price of plastic raw materials is low, but the recycling cost is high. Compared with other materials, the reuse rate and recycling rate of plastics after the end of one service cycle are not high. Only 32.5% of the 29.1 million tons of plastic waste produced by the EU every year is recycled. Many plastics also enter rivers and oceans, causing greater pollution.
In order to reduce plastic waste and improve recycling efficiency, the EU promulgated the EU plastics strategy in January 2018, which plans to invest 350 million euros to speed up the research and development process, modernize the plastic production and recycling process, and strive to make the plastic packaging in the EU market reusable or recyclable by 2030, with the recovery rate increased to 55%. In December of that year, the EU closed-loop plastic alliance was established. Timmermans, executive vice president of the European Commission, believes that close cooperation between all links in the plastic industry chain is essential to achieve a real plastic circular economy and ensure that recycled plastics are adopted by new products.
Over the past few years, the number of members of the alliance has increased from more than 70 at the beginning of its establishment to 293, covering the plastic industry chain including manufacturers, brands, retailers and recycling enterprises. The output of recycled plastics has increased by nearly 30%. The alliance proposed to further improve the recyclability of 26 kinds of plastic products in packaging, construction, agriculture and household appliances, which account for more than 60% of plastic waste in Europe.
From January 1, 2021, the EU prohibits its member states from transporting all non recyclable plastic waste to developing countries. According to the regulations, only recyclable "clean plastic waste" can be exported to non OECD countries. In addition, stricter measures have been taken for the export of plastic waste to OECD countries and the shipment of plastic waste within the EU. In July, the EU banned the use of disposable plastic products with non plastic substitutes. It is estimated that the directive will increase the recovery rate of plastic packaging within the EU to 41.5%.
Some experts pointed out that while improving the recovery rate of plastic waste, it is also necessary to reduce the use of plastics in all aspects. Christopher, a citizen of Brussels who buys goods in supermarkets, told reporters that there has always been the problem of excessive use of plastic packaging in daily life. "Some foods with only dozens of grams are wrapped in multiple layers of plastic, and many foods don't need too much plastic packaging.".
A recycling worker in charge of collecting plastic waste told reporters: "a few years ago, we only needed to pull a car to recycle a whole street of plastic waste. Now we can fill two cars. We should calm down and think about how to solve the problem of environmental protection from the source."