Fortum welcomes the proposal on measures to reduce the adverse impact from single-use plastics – further measures needed to ensure quality recycling on the way to a circular economy

Fortum welcomes the European Commission´s proposal on measures to reduce the adverse impacts on the marine and aquatic environment from single use plastics (SUPs) and fishing gear.

Fortum fully shares the concerns relating to the marine pollution and supports actions to defeat the plastics pollution. We emphasise the need to evolve the engagement and positive attitudes towards the prevention of littering (and to increase recycling as well as confidence in using products made from recycled materials). However, further measures are needed to ensure a swift transition to a circular economy based on the responsible and efficient use of materials, followed by quality recycling and re-use.

Circular economy – the efficient use of materials

Plastic products are part of a modern world and many of them are necessary for a specific reason; hence waste is unavoidable. In Fortum’s view, instead of demonising plastics all together the focus should be on measures to design products with their recyclability in mind, develop environmentally sound waste collection and treatment, recycling, and the safe and sound use for recycled plastics. High-quality recycling necessitates access to the efficient treatment of non-recyclable residues. Waste-to-energy should be acknowledged as a necessary option for diverting residues from being landfilled. A well-developed waste management infrastructure and control over the collected waste residues is a prerequisite for changing the consumer’s behaviour when disposing of the item after use.   

Fortum underlines the importance of addressing the gaps and overlaps with existing waste management systems when implementing and enforcing the SUP Directive.

 

Fortum’s key messages related to single-use plastics and plastics in a circular economy

  • It is important to ensure consistency and alignment between different legal requirements and targets relating to plastics waste from different sources. We see a potential risk for overlapping measures between the EU waste directive, waste packaging directive and the proposed directive on SUPs.

  • Comprehensive and unified implementation rules for the EU-wide legislation are clearly needed. Also unification of the data collection must be improved so that waste-related data at the EU level is comparable and sufficient.

  • In order to effectively change consumer’ behaviour there needs to be an easy access to a modern waste management infrastructure.

  • Decontamination of plastics cycles needs to be ensured in order to achieve safe and high-quality material loops.

  • There is a need for EU-wide End-of-Waste (EoW) criteria for high-quality recycled and refined plastics of certain commonly used plastics. Uniform application of EoW criteria would help to replace virgin raw materials, save natural resources, create a common market for recycled plastics, improve confidence in recycled plastics and create value.

  • In a circular economy, the whole lifecycle of products should be considered already in the design phase. The recyclability of plastics products should be improved in cooperation with the recycling industry.

  • The design of single-use items should encourage the intended proper disposal and recycling and the prevention of littering or other adverse impacts. 

  • Plastic litter is not stopped by borders. Therefore international actions are needed to develop a proper waste and recycling management infrastructure, including a smoothly functioning trade of waste for recovery and of recycled materials and products. The worst dumpsites must be closed and an effective ban on waste dumping into oceans and other nature reservoirs must be enforced.

  • Deposit systems or comparable schemes should be created to incentivise the separate collection of recyclable plastics.   

  • WtE should be recognised as part of the solution in the high-quality recycling of plastics.

  • For unavoidable SUPs that are not suitable for material recycling, e.g. medical applications, energy recovery is a good option.

 

Additional information

Martina Melander: [email protected] , +46 70 375 7864
Merja Paavola: [email protected], +358 50 396 1161