March 8, 2024

Joint Statement: Recycling and waste management associations hail PPWR’s mirroring clause for thrid-country recycled plastic environmental guarantees.

The undersigned associations fully support the recent Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR agreement reached between the Council and the European Parliament on 4 March, especially addressing a critical issue for the European recycling industry: the inclusion of the mirroring clause for recycled plastic originating from third countries, and whether this is allowed to account for the European mandatory recycled content in plastics packaging.

In the absence of the initial definition of post-consumer waste, this mirroring clause, now enshrined in the new article 7(2)ca, is vital for ensuring European industrial sovereignty and competitiveness, while delivering climate objectives and fostering a truly circular economy. These measures are compliant with WTO rules, grounded in environmental justification, and fully proportionate to the objectives they pursue.

Maintaining a level playing field between the European recycling industry and non-EU players is essential to protect against unfair competition and preserve the integrity of the European recycling industry. Third countries must adhere to equivalent environmental standards as those observed by EU recyclers, to prevent further weakening of the European recycling industry, be it for the well-established mechanical recycling industry or for investments in complementary technologies. The massive imports of low-cost plastics labelled as recycled, already observed in the EU market especially on rPET, have exacerbated the industry crisis, with recycled plastic prices dropping by up to 50% in 2023.

Failure to provide market guarantees would impede the development of the European recycling industry and the continent’s economic development prospects associated with it. This would directly contradict the EU’s ambition of rebuilding its industrial sovereignty, of observing high standards to achieve a truly circular economy, while it would also hinder the European development of cutting-edge recycling technologies.

With the upcoming ban of plastic waste exports, the need to establish robust recycling infrastructures and a strong market for European recycled plastics will become absolutely imperative to meet EU recycling targets.

The European Recycling Industries’ Confederation (EuRIC) is the umbrella organisation for the recycling industries in Europe. Through its 75 members from 23 European countries, EuRIC represents more than 5,500 large companies and SMEs involved in the recycling and trade of various resource streams. They represent a contribution of 95 billion EUR to the EU economy and 300,000 green and local jobs. By turning waste into resources, recycling reintroduces valuable materials into value chains over and over again. By bridging circularity and climate neutrality, recyclers are pioneers in leading Europe’s industrial

FEAD is the European Waste Management Association, representing the private waste and resource management industry across Europe, including 19 national waste management federations and 3,000 waste management companies. Private waste management companies operate in 60% of municipal waste markets in Europe and in 75% of industrial and commercial waste. This means more than 320,000 local jobs, fuelling €5 billion of investments into the economy every year.