Increased recycling of plastics in Europe is an important objective which Starch Europe strongly endorses, but the EU plastics strategy should also do more to promote bio-based plastics. Below is the position of the European Bieconomy Alliance, of which Starch Europe is a founding member, on the European Commission’s Communication ‘A European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy’.
Plastics Strategy – contribution of bio-based plastics to a sustainable, circular plastics economy
On 16 January 2018, the European Commission published its Communication ‘A European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy’. With this proposal the Commission aims to take an ambitious step towards making the European plastics system more resource-efficient and driving the change from a linear to a circular system. Bio-based materials provide crucial innovative solutions for the
development of a sustainable, circular plastics economy by using alternative feedstocks.
The European Bioeconomy Alliance (EUBA) calls on the European Parliament and the Council of the EU to underpin the Commission’s approach with concrete actions on how to realise the potential of bio-based plastics to contribute to driving innovation and sustainable development of the plastics industry.
USING BIO-BASED FEEDSTOCK FOR THE PRODUCTION OF PLASTICS
Increasing recycled content in plastics is an important way to reduce dependence on virgin fossil carbon resources. However, alternative feedstocks, such as bio-based and renewable, should also be encouraged in order to decrease the dependency of the plastics industry on finite fossil carbon resources, and the future demand should be met by the most sustainab le options available. EUBA believes that bio-based resources, underpinned by sound life-cycle assessments (e.g. Single Market for Green Products Initiative), can contribute greatly to the transition towards a low carbon circular bioeconomy. Bio-based plastics act as a carbon stock, storing renewable carbon in the material throughout the product’s life span, enabling the carbon to be recycled at the end of a products’ life. This benefit is amplified when bio-based products are designed for reuse or recyclability.
The Commission’s Communication acknowledges potential benefits of alternative feedstocks for the production of plastics. The Joint Research Center (JRC) has been tasked with conducting a survey to assess the life-cycle impact of diverse feedstock types.1 EUBA welcomes this research initiative as an opportunity to provide evidence for future measures to promote the use of bio -based feedstock in diverse market sectors, for example packaging. However, the Commission’s proposal lacks potential actions based on the results of the JRC project – similar to those, which have been suggested for fossil-based recyclates.
EUBA urges the Parliament and the Council to underpin the Commission’s suggestions with a set of concrete measures to promote the use of bio-based feedstocks for the production of plastics.
1 The assessment is expected to follow the Product Environmental Footprint methodology. In this context, EUBA urges that comparability needs to be ensured and that all feedstocks scrutinised need to be assessed according to the same methodology.