In response to the growing plastic waste crisis, Europe has launched several initiatives aimed at improving plastic recycling. These initiatives, driven by both governmental and non-governmental entities, are designed to increase the volume of recycled plastic and promote a circular economy.
One of the most significant initiatives is the European Circular Economy Action Plan. Launched by the European Commission, this comprehensive framework aims to make sustainable products the norm in the EU. It includes measures to ensure that products are designed to last longer, are easier to reuse, repair and recycle, and incorporate as much as possible recycled material instead of primary raw material1.
Another key initiative is the Single-Use Plastics Directive passed in 2019. This directive targets the 10 single-use plastic products most often found on Europe’s beaches and seas, as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear. It introduces a set of ambitious measures, which include consumption reduction targets, product design requirements, waste management/clean-up obligations, and awareness-raising measures2.
In addition to these broad regulatory measures, there are also specific initiatives aimed at improving the recycling process. For instance, the development of advanced mechanical and chemical recycling technologies is being supported through research funding and public-private partnerships34.
Moreover, Deposit & Return Schemes (DRS) have been implemented in several European countries. These schemes incentivize consumers to recycle by offering a small cash return for each plastic item recycled2.
These initiatives represent a concerted effort to improve plastic recycling in Europe. By promoting a circular economy, advancing recycling technologies, and incentivizing consumer participation, they aim to significantly increase the volume of plastic waste that is recycled and reused.