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Redesigning the European plastics system

Redesigning the European plastics system


European plastics manufacturers have agreed a ‘Plastics Transition’ roadmap to accelerate the transition to make plastics circular, drive lifecycle emissions to net zero, and foster the sustainable use of plastics.

Plastics Europe and its members share societal concerns about the European plastics system’s contribution to climate change and the challenge of plastics waste, and the need to foster the sustainable use of plastics. Plastics remain irreplaceable for many applications and have a vital role to play in enabling the sustainability transitions and supporting the competitiveness of many sectors in Europe. The vision is to create a sustainable plastics system that continues to meet consumer and societal demands, whilst supporting the transitions of many downstream industries, and remains a strategic asset for the European economy.

The roadmap establishes a pathway to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the overall plastics system by 28% by 2030 and towards net-zero by 2050. In parallel, it predicts the gradual substitution of fossil-based plastics, and that circular plastics could meet 25% of European demand in 2030 and 65% by 2050. Cumulated additional investments and operational costs to reach these ambitions are projected to be €235 billion.

It identifies key levers and enablers, and details immediate, short, and medium-term milestones and actions for plastics manufacturers. Whilst acknowledging that our industry must do more to deliver faster systemic change, the roadmap highlights that circularity intrinsically requires a whole value chain approach and includes recommended actions for policymakers and value chain stakeholders, between now and 2030.

The roadmap underlines the need to establish a European waste management system fit for a netzero emissions and circular economy; develop minimum circular plastic content targets for key plastics applications to create a market pull for circular plastics; and unlock industry investments in, for example, much needed chemical recycling infrastructure. Policymakers must also ensure the European plastics system remains internationally competitive during the transition.

Plastics Europe believes the roadmap will make a very important contribution to informing and promoting dialogue and collaboration with policy makers and our value chain. It is a dynamic process which means the document will be progressively updated based on new insights and changes to our industry environment, the policy framework and input from our value chain.


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