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European recyclers unhappy with continent's plastics suppliers

Article-European recyclers unhappy with continent's plastics suppliers

The European Plastics Recyclers (EuPR) group is less than happy with the plastics supplier association, PlasticsEurope (ex-APME, both Brussels, Belgium), because of the release of a study on recycling which EuPR president Bernard Merkx says provides questionable data on plastics recycling.

Merkx says the release of PlasticsEurope''s so-called `green book'' last week contained incorrect data with figures that appeared to express a percentage of plastics waste for collection and not recycling. Merkx termed as nonsense reported recycling levels that PlasticsEurope said were at 60% in Germany. The figure he says included energy recovery and feedstock and mechanical recycling.

"On top of this, the figures do not distinguish between collection, export, and recycling in Europe nor does the report differentiate between production waste and post-consumer waste," he says. "Our members represent 80% of Europe''s recycling capacity, and we know very well what the situation is. We have been collaborating with PlasticsEurope for the recycling figures of 2004 and asked them to wait for final consultation before publishing this report."

EuPR says post-consumer plastics waste-recycling levels were down last year and export flows [to Asian countries] continue to damage its business. EuPR believes the overall plastics (mechanical) recycling rate for all applications in Europe is only 4.1%, equal to 2.2 million tonnes of processed waste. Merkx says his organization expects to conduct its own report on recycling and submit it to EU legislators. His organization is also requesting the EU Commission and the European Parliament initiate a plastics-recycling directive.

"This EU Directive has been sitting on the Commission''s desk for several years now but has been blocked by the strong lobby of the petrochemical companies," Merkx says. "Only by fixing material-specific recycling targets for plastics recycling will we achieve the proper levels in Europe." He says the average post-consumer mechanical recycling level is below 16% in the EU.

There did seem to be a snafu at PlasticsEurope since spokesman Martyn Griffiths issued a statement the following day that his organization "regrets the premature release of information not yet approved internally. We are currently working to rectify this information and will coordinate any further communication in this area with the converting industry (EuPC and EuPR), as was our intention."

PlasticsEurope says it believes a clear industry understanding of plastics recycling is important in order to provide the right kind of plastics waste-management options.-Robert Colvin; [email protected]

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