On the 30th local time, the EU will revise the "Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive". The European Commission hopes to reduce the environmental impact of packaging by forcing manufacturers to use recycled plastics in new packaging.
According to foreign media, the draft shows that by 2030, the renewable components of plastic beverage bottles and contact sensitive packaging will be 30%, the contact sensitive packaging made of non PET (polyethylene terephthalate) will be 10%, and the other plastic packaging will be 35%. Later, the target will be significantly improved in 2040.
"The cycle in packaging helps to decouple economic development from the use of natural resources." The European Commission said in the above draft that "in recent years, the packaging industry has grown faster than the gross national income, resulting in a surge in carbon dioxide and other emissions, as well as excessive exploitation of natural resources, loss of biodiversity and pollution."
It can be seen that under the dual factors of energy crisis and environmental protection considerations, the EU accelerated the implementation of the "plastic restriction order" in 2022. On the one hand, one-off plastic products were banned on a large scale, and on the other hand, the EU promoted the growth of plastic recycling industry in the form of directives.
A senior environmental assessment professional from an international multilateral institution told China Business News that this measure stems from the environmental pressure the EU is currently facing. After China announced a ban on the entry of foreign wastes in 2017 and promoted the reform of the solid waste import management system, other countries around the world have followed suit. However, European and American countries that originally exported these wastes to foreign countries have not perfected their domestic plastic recycling industry chain. The EU's move is also to promote the development of its internal recycling industry and solve practical problems. He said that, at the same time, considering the current natural gas price, the plastic industry is also a high energy consuming industry, and the volume needs to be reduced.
He also explained that for Chinese chemical enterprises, especially for European plastic products export enterprises, the carbon tariffs that the EU will implement in the future will have a greater impact.
Benefiting the plastic recycling industry of EU
At present, the EU requires in the draft that from January 2030, all plastic packaging put on the EU market should "contain a certain amount of relevant ingredients recycled from plastic waste".
Specifically, the minimum recovery rate from plastic waste after consumption, namely the content of recycled plastic: the recovery rate of disposable beverage bottles will reach 50% in 2030 and 65% in 2040; The target value of contact sensitive plastic packaging will be 25% by 2030 and 50% by 2040; For all other plastic packaging, the minimum content will be 45% in 2030 and 65% in 2040.
At present, in a market dominated by cheaper and higher quality raw materials, recyclers face great challenges in selling secondary materials. To solve this problem, the EU intends to expand the target of recycled content from plastic bottles to all plastic packaging, and hopes to promote the development of the recycled plastic market by forcing the use of recycled materials in new packaging.
According to the evaluation of foreign media, the measures to be introduced by the EU will cover a wide range of areas, from stickers on Apple electronic products, disposable plastic handbags to capsule coffee, which will have a huge impact on Europe's chemical industry and food packaging industry.
In addition, according to the data of Plastics Europe, the European industry organization, in 2019, only 5% of the plastic in the EU's commodity packaging came from recycled sources.
The aforementioned senior personage told the reporter that the low plastic recycling volume in the EU was due to the fact that for a long time before, rubber, plastic waste, electronic waste and other products in EU member states were mainly exported, leading to the imperfect internal industrial chain. "Previously, EU member states mostly packaged their garbage and transferred it to foreign countries for disposal, and then bought raw materials for production, or directly bought ready-made packaging for use. However, most countries have begun to reject this European and American 'foreign garbage'. The EU needs to reduce the amount of garbage and then support a new industry through recycling." He explained to the reporter that the advantage of Europe is that it has done a particularly good job in garbage classification. In the past, the European Union left garbage that can be used as compost, and transferred all other garbage that is difficult to handle and has pollution out. The proportion of its own incineration is very low. Unlike island countries such as Japan, because of land constraints, the EU mainly burns. "However, incineration is not feasible in the European Union. During the combustion process, a large number of pollutants may be released, and there are non degradable and sustainable pollutants." He said.
However, although plastic manufacturers are in favor of this, beverage carton manufacturers do not think so. In order to ensure that food is not affected by moisture and air, and that beverages, soups and sauces have a longer shelf life, the interior of beverage carton packaging mostly contains additional aluminum layers and plastic layers. Although there is a technology to separate plastics and fibers, it has not yet been applied in a large scale.
Previously, the European Union had passed the Regulation on Disposable Plastic Products, which banned disposable plastic products on a large scale to reduce the harm to the natural environment and human health. The regulations also stipulate that 77% of plastic bottles will be recycled by 2025, and the proportion of renewable materials in plastic bottles will reach 25%. The above two indicators need to be expanded to 90% and 30% by 2029 and 2030 respectively.
According to a recent report issued by the EU environmental protection organization Break Free From Plastic and the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), plastics and petrochemical products are the largest industrial oil, natural gas and power users in the EU, of which plastic packaging accounts for 40% of the energy consumption of the entire plastic industry. The report also found that the plastic industry plans to double the use of natural gas and oil in the next 20 years.
Expert: Carbon tariff has greater impact on Chinese enterprises
Due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, natural gas prices in the EU have risen significantly, and industrial production costs have also risen significantly. What is the impact of EU policies in plastics and related fields on Chinese enterprises?
The above industry insiders said that China has complete industrial technology in this area. If the EU requires to increase the proportion of recycled plastics in products, this is an advantage for Chinese enterprises. If Chinese enterprises can enter the field of export packaging abroad, they can even increase the current product price and profit.
He stressed to reporters that compared with the current EU operation in the "plastic restriction order" and plastic recycling, the carbon tariff that will be formally and comprehensively levied from 2027 will obviously have a greater impact on the export of Chinese chemical enterprises, Chemicals (organic chemicals, hydrogen, ammonia), plastics and their products are also newly included.
He explained that the current EU management method is to discount the environmental protection cost into the price through carbon tax. This barrier will reduce the cost advantage of Chinese enterprises and enhance the comparative advantage of European local enterprises in a disguised way. In this regard, special attention should be paid to plastic products enterprises.
Giacomo LUCIANI, a professor of the School of International Affairs of the Paris Institute of Political Science, also told the first financial reporter that in the future, European governments may introduce some policies to protect local industries, especially for pillar industries and new industries. Among them, the Carbon Tariff Act is an example. If the United States, Asia and other countries and regions use more coal as raw materials for power generation, the cost of exporting products to Europe will also increase, which will weaken the relative competitiveness of these products in Europe.
Prior to that, Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Shu Jueting told the First Finance and Economics reporter at a regular press conference that China believed that the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" was the cornerstone of global climate governance, and relevant European legislative measures should comply with WTO rules to avoid the formation of new trade barriers, so as to promote the liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment in green areas and jointly respond to climate change.
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