No more excuses: EU Commissioner Frans Timmermans stresses that effective recycling of high-tech plastics is possible
Almost 200 international participants joined the virtual workshop "Circular product development – the secrets to design for and from recycling" on April 15, 2021, which took place within the framework of the EU project PolyCE. The experts from the PolyCE consortium presented their experiences and findings on the holistic circular economy for high-tech plastics as well as best-practice strategies developed in line with the motto "Design for Recycling and Design from Recycling". An additional highlight was the appearance of Frans Timmermans, Commissioner for Climate Action and Vice President of the EU Commission, who is responsible for the Green Deal. He was given recommendations for action for effective plastics recycling.
Chris Slijkhuis, EERA expert, his presentation was based on the explanation on what happened in the Suez Canal recently: as it wedged the Suez Canal for 6 days it was global news for this amount of time and beyond. Do we know that this is happening day-in-day out with WEEE? The plastics recycling industry is facing this just now with the new plastics delegated act. All mixed WEEE plastics (not hazardous waste) need notifications, also in Europe. Often notifcations are time consuming and therefor not planable in the input streams of the recycling companies and the prices of notifications vary and can reach high amounts, while the material is waiting for proper treatment in Europe (or worse). If Europe is serious about the Circular Economy, this needs to be changed urgently.
In 2017, PolyCE (Post-Consumer High-tech Recycled Polymers for a Circular Economy) started with the common goal of the 20 project partners* to activate a shift towards a circular economy for plastics. The aim is to use high-tech plastics that are already in use, such as those found in cell phones, televisions, vacuum cleaners and the like, as a source of raw materials and thus reuse them entirely, with an awareness of the entire value chain. These goals are highly topical for more than just research purposes, as the European Commission also sees the need for a movement towards the circular economy and has adopted a Europe-wide strategy with the help of which ten million tons of recycled plastics are to find their way back onto the market in the form of new products by 2025.
In the current workshop, the focus was primarily on the design of WEEE plastics obtained through mechanical recycling. In keynote speeches, the experts explained the challenges of the last four years, but also showed that recycling of plastics is not a simple task, but it is a solvable one – a clear signal to manufacturers to use recycled plastics more intensively in the future. Also Chris Slijkhuis gave a clear presentation in which he also addressed the current obstacles for keeping plastics in the loop in Europe.
Frans Timmermans, one of the three Executive Vice Presidents of the EU Commission in charge of the Green Deal, participated in the interactive workshop. The project coordinator and environmental expert at Fraunhofer IZM, Gergana Dimitrova, virtually presented him with the guidelines "Design for and Design from Recycling", which were produced during the project and contain, among other things, practical guidelines for designers.
Frans Timmermans: “We need to move towards a circular economy. Wanting to be the first climate neutral continent as Europe is not a goal in itself. It is part of helping humanity understand that we need to live within planetary boundaries.
We also need to ensure that our products respect the highest sustainability standards. We need durable, re-usable, repairable products. Products made of recycled materials and designed for high quality recycling in turn. This is an essential discussion where your project makes such a timely contribution. The book you are launching today is crystal clear about what needs to be done.
It is clear: only with a circular economy we can reach climate neutrality.”
Download the guidelines: https://www.polyce-project.eu/results/