This year’s annual meeting of Plastics Recycling Europe (PRE) on 16 and 17 June in Cascais, Portugal, the Brussels-based trade organization for the European recycling industry marked the 20th anniversary of an association that, in the course of those two decades has shown what can only be termed spectacular growth. At the time it was created, PRE boasted a grand total of seven members. Today, that number has grown to over 120 and continues to rise.
One of the speakers at the event was Helmut Maurer, from the DG Environment at the European Commission, whose keynote speech focused on the importance of the transition to the circular economy through a “strict execution of a future landfill ban on plastics” and more stringent rules regarding the design of, among other things, plastic packaging. He also warned that incineration should not replace landfilling as a waste solution.
“Closing landfills for plastic must not lead to more incineration and statistical confusion about what is recycling and what is energy recovery must be cleared away,” he said.
PRE president Ton Emans presented the organization’s Strategy Paper, entitled Plastics Recyclers Europe 20 years later and the way forward – Making more from plastics waste, in which the environmental advantages of plastics recycling as one of the solutions to the natural resources depletion, air pollution but also efficient waste management. He noted that despite the almost “quantum leap” taken by the industry over the past 20 years, further investments remain essential to become more competitive and professionalized.
“Recyclers are positive but need to stay realistic. With only 26.3% recycling rates and landfill and incineration still having much higher share we cannot rest on our laurels”, Emans cautioned.
During the event, which was attended by over 150 participants from all over Europe, the PRE Management Committee appointed Antonino Furfari as its new Managing Director. Furfari replaces Alexandre Dangis, who had served as managing direction since the association was formed in 1996.