Yesterday Plastics Europe released a landmark report ReShaping Plastics: Pathways to a Circular, Climate Neutral Plastics System in Europe. We are very proud to have commissioned this report, welcome its valuable guidance and call for faster systemic change. It is an independent report developed by systems change firm SYSTEMIQ with input from leading experts from civil society, government and industry. It was commissioned because we recognize the seriousness of the climate crisis and the challenge posed by plastic waste, and support the EU’s ambition to move towards net-zero emissions and a circular economy by 2050 and its 2030 emissions reduction targets.
ReShaping Plastics looks at our progress to date, assesses the current position of Europe’s broader plastics systems and explores potential pathways for moving towards net-zero carbon emissions and the EU’s circular targets by 2050. It presents a set of scenarios based on these take current publicly available market data on innovations, commitments and policies and make projections of how these various elements, including new technologies, might impact over a long period of time. It states that the most important driver for reducing system emissions in the short to medium term is circularity and underlines the need to activate all upstream and downstream levers. This includes mechanical and chemical recycling, the use of alternative raw materials such as bio-raw materials and the development of products for recycling and reuse.
For example, the report notes that current industry and policy actions could more than double the circularity of the system from 14 percent to 30 percent by 2030, resulting in a reduction of 11 million tonnes (Mt) of CO2 emissions and 4.7 Mt would lead to less plastic waste. Significant short- and longer-term investments from various private and public actors as well as further technological innovations, new infrastructures and business models are also essential. Our members have ramped up their investments and innovations in recent years, although it will take a few years for the full benefits to be felt.
The broader European plastics system is extremely large and complex. Plastics manufacturers do not have all the levers and we do not have all the answers, which is why we support the call for more intensive and effective cooperation between our industry, value chain and politics.
The report’s authors acknowledge that replacing plastics with other materials offers very limited opportunities to achieve net-zero emissions and that plastics have a crucial role to play in achieving the EU’s broader net-zero emissions targets. They ensure emission savings in key sectors such as construction, automotive, packaging and medicine and are indispensable for the development of renewable energy technologies. But the conclusions are clear: faster system change is essential, and there needs to be more intensive and effective collaboration between our industry, our value chain and policy makers. We are under no illusions about the scale and complexity of the transition. We cannot do this alone.
Europe’s plastics manufacturers were not the first to wake up to this challenge. Our member companies announce significant investments, innovations and partnerships weekly to drive these systemic changes. This includes investing in advanced recycling technologies, renewable energy and producing more plastics from bio-feedstock and other potential carbon sources such as carbon capture. Together with our partners in the value chain, we work to deliver new systems thinking, mind and behavior changes, better performing products, ecodesign innovations and new infrastructures.
In order to accelerate the transition, we need a new, stable and long-term oriented political framework. One that better stimulates investment and innovation. Instead of fragmentation, we must use the power of the EU internal market. A single market with 27 member countries all pushing in the same direction is a powerful force. It must also keep European industry globally competitive as we make this transition.
To be successful, this new framework must ensure the availability of high-quality raw materials as well as sufficient access to affordable, abundant, renewable and low-carbon energy. Supporting the innovation needs of the industry in a rapidly evolving world is vital. Chemical recycling, for example, should be encouraged and supported to accelerate scale and technological progress.
Plastics Europe also proposes a package of measures to help implement the report’s recommendations. We will develop a roadmap for our industry. Milestones, goals, levers and different paths are addressed. We will explore the potential for sea change in collaboration with policymakers and the plastics value chain, and our policy positions will be aligned to accelerate the plastics system’s transition towards greater circularity and net-zero emissions by 2050.
The report was commissioned to inform and guide the decisions of Plastics Europe, our members and all stakeholders. It is your report as much as ours. We hope you find it as valuable as we do, and that we can work together to seize this opportunity to bring about the accelerated systemic change needed.
To learn more, visit plasticseurope.org/reshaping-plastics/
https://www.politico.eu/sponsored-content/reshaping-plastics-report-calls-for-faster-systemic-change-to-reach-net-zero-and-circularity/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication Report calls for faster systemic change to achieve net zero and circularity - POLITICO