Plastic associations fault recycling and consumer behaviour for pollution
26th March 2018 | Recycling
The challenges to reducing plastic production and reversing its pollution of the environment are sizeable. Even when consumers make the effort, much of the packaging consumed is either difficult or impossible to recycle – such as dark food containers that are not picked up in sorting scans, or plastic-lined paper coffee cups.
Standardising plastics and biodegradable plastics, which currently do not all degrade in the same conditions, will be a pivotal part of making recycling more efficient and profitable. Convincing manufacturers to remove colours from plastic bottles would help recycling yields, but businesses will have to be reassured that they will not see drop-off in sales as a result.
A blow to Europe’s plans to make recycling pay was the decision by China, the world’s largest importer of recyclable materials, to ban imports of 24 categories of recyclables and solid waste by the end of 2018.
Frans Timmermans, the European Commission’s First Vice-President, admitted the decision presented a challenge to the commission by he tried to put a positive spin on the ruling. “Are we as Europeans not capable of recycling our own waste?” he said in January. He optimistically suggested that once a few “minor changes” had been made, Europe too could make recycling profitable.
Some have argued that organisations such as the commission have been too slow to react.
In response, Enrico Brivio, the commission’s spokesman for the environment, told The National, “It is important and urgent to act now. Obviously, things could always have been done earlier or later.
“But the important thing is we feel this sense of urgency and that’s why we’ve presented such a wide-ranging strategy to tackle several aspects of single-use plastics, microplastics and marine litter.”
Europe’s ambition to create a market for the reuse and recycling of plastics is a stepping stone but shows how far there is yet to go in this project.
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