Increasing attention is being paid to environmental issues such as carbon emissions and plastic pollution, which also drives social and regulatory changes in Europe and the world as a whole. Business and industry have noticed this phenomenon, and strive to reduce waste and improve waste plastic recycling capacity from all aspects of products, supply chains and production in order to achieve circular economy.
Circular economy refers to the "closed cycle" of product life cycle through better recycling and reuse, so that both the environment and the economy can be benefited. In this cycle, the plastic recycling is a very important part, because nowadays many products and processes will use plastics. Reducing plastic waste and recycling more plastics have become a topic of increasing attention by the government and regulators.
Industry wants to abide by the rules and regulations strictly. Most large enterprises plan to increase the use of plastic recycling. However, the sources of traditional and recyclable plastic waste are limited. Plastics, properly classified and not mixed with other products, have long been widely recycled, but they account for only 30% of the total plastic waste in Europe, which is likely to be even smaller globally.
Promotion of Regulations
Until 2018, many of the remaining plastic wastes were sent to China for recycling. China imported 7.3 million tons of plastic waste in 2016, accounting for more than 50% of the total export volume of this category. However, China is banning the import of waste products from other places because of the growing pollution problem. This is a big shock to the market, because countries that used to export waste now have to build new recycling infrastructure and find new ways to manage their waste.
At the same time, the EU has announced its strategy for plastics products in circular economy (5). The strategy is likely to herald an acceleration of EU legislation to develop new regulations and targets for the production and use of plastics. One of the EU's goals is to ensure that plastic packaging in all EU markets is reusable or recyclable by 2030, which is indeed an ambitious goal.
This shows that market and regulatory factors together promote plastic recycling business to set ambitious goals independently before these goals are imposed on them.