While only 24% of all plastics were recycled in 2013, a new study commissioned by Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE) says that an overall plastics recycling target of 62% across the European Union is achievable by 2020.
In order to achieve the target, the research proposed several urgent steps that should be taken. The first and most important of these is to ban dumping of plastic waste in landfills. The EU will have to divert 24 million tons of plastic waste from landfills, which will in turn prevent the release of more than 26 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. All plastic items should be collected separately and properly sorted to facilitate recycling. In addition, the plastics industry should improve item design to make the more recyclable, the study suggested.
These measures will have a secondary effect on the EU's employment market, according to the findings of the study, as reaching the goal will require the creation of more than 360,000 new jobs, of which 120,000 will be directly occupied by recyclers.
Tom Emans, president of PRE, commented that the current situation with plastics recycling in the EU was unacceptable and wasting more than three-quarters of plastics produced on the market should not be tolerated. The study, carried out by Bio Intelligence Service, provides a detailed list of measures that could help the EU increase plastics recycling rates and reach its goal, he added.