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Recycling market in Europe faces ‘collapse’ after EU waste export ban – Euractiv

The decision by the European Union to ban exports of plastic waste within and outside of Europe is posing a significant threat to the market for the collection and recycling of plastic packaging, according to Belgian industry association Valipac.

As of November 17th, the EU has implemented a ban on the export of plastic waste for disposal, meaning that plastic waste collected in EU countries will need to be stockpiled and potentially burned if there are no buyers for recycling. With the inability to export the collected plastic and limited recycling capacity in Europe, there is a risk of demand collapsing, Valipac warned.

Belgium alone consumes 100,000 tons of commercial plastic packaging annually, with 24,000 tons currently being exported outside the OECD. This leaves a quarter of industrial plastic waste with no clear solution for processing, according to Valipac.

The issue stems from the fact that producing packaging from virgin plastic is cheaper than using recyclate. As a result, European plastic waste is often exported for recycling into secondary products, while there is little demand for recycled plastic waste within the EU.

Without addressing this issue, the market for sorting, collection, and recycling of plastic packaging could collapse due to a lack of sales outlets in Europe and the export ban to non-OECD countries, Valipac cautioned.

In order to prevent a crisis, the European recycling industry confederation (EuRIC) emphasized the need for binding recycled content targets to boost demand for recycled materials in Europe. This would create markets for circular materials that were previously reliant on exports.

Valipac has already incentivized businesses with a financial bonus for using plastic packaging containing at least 30% recyclate. “We as an industry must heavily invest in the use of recyclate,” said Francis Huysman, Valipac’s managing director. “The Benefits of Regular Exercise”

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