On November 30, the European Commission published the long awaited Policy Framework for Biobased, Biodegradable and Compostable Plastics and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation - part of the EU Circular Economy Package II.
TotalEnergies Corbion has been engaged in the discussion regarding the Policy Framework due to its direct impact on PLA. Despite being a non-legally binding document, the Frameworks spells out all the opportunities and challenges related to bio-based, biodegradable and compostable plastics. In particular, regarding bio-based and the feedstock, the European Commission highlights the need for a homogeneous assessment of the bio-based content in plastics according the 14C method and the need to review the LCAs in order to include the biogenic content. For compostable plastics a list of products are indicated as beneficial: bags, tea bags, coffee pods, sticky labels attached to fruit and vegetables and very lightweight plastic carrier bags, absorbent hygiene products (non-woven).
Regarding the Regulation on Packaging and Packaging Waste, this will be a major dossier which will shape the future of packaging, and its recycling path, in Europe. The proposed revision of the EU legislation on Packaging and Packaging Waste has three main objectives:
prevent the generation of packaging waste: reduce it in quantity, restrict unnecessary packaging and promote reusable and refillable packaging solutions;
boost high quality (‘closed loop') recycling: make all packaging on the EU market recyclable in an economically viable way by 2030;
reduce the need for primary natural resources and create a well-functioning market for secondary raw materials, increasing the use of recycled plastics in packaging through mandatory targets.
The headline target is to reduce packaging waste by 15% by 2040 and to make packaging fully recyclable by 2030.
In particular, a packaging shall be considered recyclable packaging if it complies with design for recycling criteria by 2030 and recycled at scale from 2035. Packaging shall also contain recycled content:
30 % for contact sensitive packaging made from (PET) as the major component;
10 % for contact sensitive packaging, except single use plastic beverage bottles, made from plastic materials other than PET;
30 % for single use plastic beverage bottles;
35 % for other packaging
The targets above targets do not apply to compostable plastics (going to composting). In fact, for compostable packaging, the EU is mandating the use of such compostable in the following list of packaging: tea bags, single use units of coffee, sticky labels attached to fruit and vegetables and very lightweight plastic carrier bags. The use of compostable plastics for other packaging is still possible if it allows material recycling.
The next steps of the legislative process sees the assignment of the dossier to the Environmental Committee of the European Parliament and the appointment of a rapporteur (a Member of the European Parliament) whom will lead the amendment process in the Parliament.
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