On October 6, 2020, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) announced the publication of a review examining the EU’s response to growing amounts of plastic waste and the feasibility of the bloc to meet its own recently set commitments. Overall, the agency finds that “there is a significant risk that the EU will not meet its plastic packaging recycling targets for 2025 and 2030.” It warns that member states should not underestimate the scale of the challenge they face in meeting the set recycling targets for plastic packaging of 50% by 2025 and 55% by 2030 (FPF reported). Current recycling rates in EU member states are estimated to be inaccurately reported, and new reporting rules that have been set are likely to lead to a significant drop in current rates from 42% down to near 30%.
While some member states such as Germany and Denmark are reported to have already surpassed the set targets, other countries such as France and Hungary are behind. The enaction of a new agreement under the Basel Convention restricting the export of plastic waste to non-EU countries beginning in 2021 will also shift the recycling burden onto member states themselves (FPF reported).
“To meet its new recycling targets for plastic packaging, the EU must reverse the current situation, whereby we incinerate more than we recycle. This is a daunting challenge”, said Samo Jereb, a member of the ECA. “By resuscitating single-use habits amid sanitary concerns, the COVID pandemic shows that plastics will continue to be a mainstay of our economies, but also an ever-growing environmental threat.”
ECA (October 6, 2020). “Plastic packaging waste: EU needs to boost recycling to achieve ambitions.” (pdf)
Kira Taylor (October 6, 2020). “Pressure mounts on EU member states to meet plastic recycling goals.” Euractiv
ECA (October 6, 2020). “Review No 04/2020: EU action to tackle the issue of plastic waste.”