Plastic recycling is "not the answer" to solving the planet's plastic crisis, the co-founder of action group A Plastic Planet, Sian Sutherland, has said.
Sutherland was commenting in response to a European Commission report showing that recycling has decreased across the continent, with just nine countries 'on track' to meet the 2025 targets for re-use and recycling of municipal and all packaging waste, Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Slovenia.
“This is yet more evidence that recycling plastic is not the answer to the plastic crisis," Sutherland commented. “Unprofitable and energy intensive, the process only downcycles the tiny percentage of plastic that ever makes it to a recycling facility.”
According to Sutherland, further evidence as to the inefficiency of plastic recycling is in the "thousands of scientific studies on chemicals within plastic compounding up through the process."
She added that the "only real solution" is to do away with single use packaging and replace it with reusable standardised packaging.
"That is the change governments across Europe should be pushing," she said.
Missing 2025 Targets
According to the European Commission, some 18 Member States are at risk of missing one or both of the 2025 targets. It noted that Estonia, Finland, France, Ireland, Latvia, Portugal, Spain and Sweden are at risk of missing the municipal waste target, while Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania and Slovakia are at risk of missing both the targets for municipal and overall packaging waste for 2025.
"Implementing waste reduction and recycling measures on the ground is key for our circular economy transition," commented Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries. "Turning waste into resources helps us on the way to climate neutrality, increases the security of supply of energy and raw materials, and creates local jobs and innovation opportunities.
"The early warning report allows us, in close cooperation with the Member States, to detect shortcomings, take action ahead of the deadlines for meeting the targets, and share best practices in sound waste management."