November 20, 2018 / 1:29 PM / 23 days ago

EU says plastics recycling pledges fall short

Plastic bottles and containers are seen in a container at a recycling park near Brussels, Belgium, November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - More action will be needed for the European Union to boost the market for recycled plastics after pledges from companies fell short, EU executive said on Tuesday.

Over 60 pledges were made under the European plastics strategy unveiled in January, which called on companies to voluntarily increase their use of recycled plastics in lieu of regulation after China stopped taking the world’s waste due to pollution concerns.

An assessment by the European Commission found that commitments made by companies could increase the supply of recycled plastics to 10 million tonnes by 2025, but only 5 million tonnes on the demand side.

The Commission will review the pledges before deciding on future action to bump up demand, such as regulation or incentives.

“It is essential that more recycled plastics find their way into new products,” Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said in a statement.

The European Union recycles only a quarter of the 25-26 million tonnes of plastics waste it produces per year and about half of that was sent to China, which uses recycled plastics to make products ranging from office furniture to cable coatings.

The EU executive wants 10 million tonnes of recycled plastics to be used in new products sold in the bloc by 2025 - quadrupling demand. The plastics plan also set targets for all plastic packaging on the EU market to be recyclable by 2030 and single-use plastics to be reduced.

Lawmakers last month overwhelmingly voted to ban 10 single-use plastic products with readily available alternatives by 2021.

Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis, Editing by Ed Osmond

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