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Towards Zero plastics to landfill by 2020

Posted on febbraio, 09 2015

Plastics too valuable to end up in landfills
Every year in Europe, 10 million tonnes of post-consumer plastic waste are buried in landfills. Instead, these plastics could be a resource for recycling and energy recovery. From a Resource Efficiency perspective, at the end of their use phase, plastics may be recovered back into new resources: plastics should be sustainably recycled and when this is not possible, they should be used as a fossil fuel replacement for efficient energy recovery.

The Zero plastics to landfill by 2020 project aims at reducing these 10 million tonnes of plastic waste to close to zero in eight years’ time. With business as usual leading to zero in 2037, the 2020 objective will prevent an estimated 80 million tonnes of plastic waste from going to landfill, an amount representing about 1 billion barrels of oil or €70 billion (if 1 barrel = $100 and $1 = €0.70).

A challenging but realistic goal
While seven EU Member States plus Norway and Switzerland already landfill less than 10% of post-consumer plastic waste, eleven EU Member States still landfill more than 60%. This is a result of poor enforcement of existing European legislation and landfilling still being the cheapest waste management option in many Member States. To reach such an ambitious goal as zero plastic to landfill by 2020 also implies the development of the necessary recycling and recovery infrastructure within Europe to maintain this valuable resource in the circular economy for as long as possible

All plastics can have a second life – however, no "one size fits all”
Most plastics can technically be recycled. To realize the full potential of plastic waste, different management options are available; beginning with quality recycling when this is the most sustainable option. Plastics that cannot be recycled sustainably provide valuable feedstock to efficient energy-from-waste facilities to produce electricity, heat or secondary recovered fuel. The decision as to which route to take should be based on sustainability criteria, i.e. taking not only environmental, but economic and social aspects into account as well.

Watch:  Plastics...too valuable to be thrown away



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