MOSCOW (MRC) -- The recent announcement of the European Commission’s new EU-wide rules on packaging has divided opinions, said Recyclingtoday.
Starting with “leaked” reports ahead of the announcement last November, we had nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) on the one hand pressing for ambitious targets to drive our carbon footprint down and industry cautioning against unachievable goals that would depress rather than drive the sector forward.
It is indeed a fine balancing act, however, the one fundamental goal we need to keep in mind is that we must not, at any cost, exceed our carbon budget. To do so would push our already precarious climate system overboard. According to an assessment presented at COP27, our remaining carbon budget to stay under 1.5 C temperature increase is 380 billion metric tons, or less than a decade of emissions at the present rate. This means emissions must be drastically reduced.
With that in mind, we need to take the macro view and consistently opt for systemic changes across every facet of our lives that are achievable and, vitally, keep us within a safe carbon range.
The Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive’s (PPWD’s) proposed measures would bring greenhouse gas emissions from packaging down to 43 million metric tons compared with 66 million metric tons if we continue with business as usual. These measures are one of the many transformational steps we need to take as we continue developing innovative technologies to move humanity back from the brink.
PET, or polyethylene terephthalate, which is plastics’ most resounding success story so far, is well within range of these new targets set at 30 percent recycled content by 2030 moving to 50 percent by 2050.
Food-contact plastic packaging’s targets, on the other hand, reflect the belief that these are one of the more challenging materials to recycle back into food-grade resins. Now that we have the technologies to achieve this, however, the 10 percent target set for 2030, shifting to 40 percent by 2040, should be achievable and would mean we will be closing the loop on some 400,000 tons of food-grade plastic per year.
We remind, Repsol has announced an investment of EUR26m to start a new production line (Reciclex range) for recycled plastics at its Puertollano Industrial Complex in Spain. Expected to start in Q4 2024, the new line will have the capacity to manufacture 25,000 tons of recycled plastic per year, which is almost double the current capacity of 16,000 tons.