On 16 January 2018, the EU published its strategy « A European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy » to lay the foundations for a circular economy in which plastic is not only a raw material but a product for itself. The EU`s main objective is to make all plastic packaging produced in the EU reusable or recyclable by 2030 and to recycle all plastic waste produced in the EU by 2030. The EU takes into account the entire life cycle of plastics. It identifies plastic waste in the oceans – 500,000 tonnes released each year by the EU – as a major source of concern. The EU focuses on the « 3Rs » strategy and thus combines prevention and mitigation measures. Environmental lobby groups have been putting pressure on the industry for decades. In recent years, issues such as alleged overpacking have also been regularly addressed by the media. The last of these campaigns is ocean plastic. High-level media coverage, which uses angry images, has made marine pollution a hot topic. Companies opt for lighter plastics or a combination of materials, colours and additives that are difficult to recycle or simply not recyclable.
Chemical recycling is considered a solution for these hard-to-row plastics, but this maintains the « business as usual » position for the plastics industry. Widespread recycling is a relatively new phenomenon. Before recycling became popular, packaging waste was traditionally buried or incinerated in landfills. Although both are still widespread, landfilling is now considered a last resort – it is at the bottom of the European waste hierarchy with the same incinerator above it. A shift begins from a linear economy with « taking, production, waste, » where materials are used only once before disposal, to a circular economy that minimizes the use of raw materials, energy and water, and converts materials into new products instead of simply discarding them. Project Proof Georg Kasperkovitz, CEO Mondi Consumer Packaging, said: « We believe that the partnership is crucial to finding a solution for plastic waste, fostering innovation and large-scale systemic changes throughout the plastics value chain, focusing on replacement, reduction and recycling. Growing pressure from consumers and governments is pushing brand owners to use recycled packaging.