Another step towards a circular plastics economy in Europe

Posted on 27 October 2020.

On March 6, 2020, several EU member countries, as well as business and NGOs, came together to launch the European Plastics Pact for better single-use plastic packaging and product life cycle management. Veolia is one of the signatories.

"To solve the problem of plastic waste and pollution at source, we have to fundamentally rethink the way we produce, use and recycle plastic," states the European Plastics Pact, launched on March 6, 2020 in Brussels and signed by 14 European Union member countries and some 40 companies, including Veolia. "There needs to be a systemic shift which requires the collective action of companies involved in the plastics value chain, governments and civil society."

Accelerating the systemic shift

Drawing on a number of initiatives taken at national, European and global levels, the European Pact brings together governments, civil society organizations and companies (producing plastics, using plastics, or involved in collection, sorting and recycling) around a common vision and four goals to be achieved by 2025:

  • make all single-use plastic packaging and products reusable or recyclable
  • reduce virgin plastic products and packaging by at least 20% versus 2017
  • increase plastic collection, sorting and recycling capacity by at least 25%
  • incorporate at least 30% recycled plastics into new products and packaging.

To achieve this, the signatories undertake to act on several fronts:

  • set up cooperation with their partners on a European scale to stimulate the development of innovative techniques - pilot programs, for example
  • contribute to the harmonization of national guidelines, standards, support frameworks, etc.
  • connect, at events such as the Pact's annual meeting or in working groups, to share best practices and experiences.

All these actions should allow new models to emerge and "accelerate the systemic shift towards a circular plastics economy in Europe".

Veolia joins the European Plastics Pact

Veolia, which this year announced its new 2023 strategic program, one of the priorities of which is plastic recycling, is one of the 40 or so companies that have joined the initiative.

As explained in the Pact's text, companies involved in collecting, sorting and recycling plastics play an important role in achieving the goals. They are able to invest in recovery channels and work with other stakeholders to ensure adequate collection systems, efficient sorting capacity and a continuous flow of high-quality recycled materials. They can help companies that use plastics to develop reusable and recyclable products and packaging, and take part in ambitious pilot projects.

Veolia is already working on this, and has established numerous partnerships with companies, particularly in the packaging and recycling sectors (Tetra Pak, LC Packaging), developing innovative solutions to improve plastics recycling and collaborating in several plastic waste initiatives:

  • Veolia was a founding member of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste. The creation of the Alliance was announced in London on January 16, 2019. It brings together some 50 global companies from across the plastics and consumer goods value chain. The Alliance aims to help eliminate plastic waste from the environment, particularly in the oceans.
  • In October 2018, Veolia, which is already a member of the New Plastics Economy initiative, signed the "Global Commitment" launched by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme, to eradicate plastic waste and pollution generated at source.
  • The STOP project (Stop Ocean Plastics) which aims to build a real circular plastics economy in South-East Asia.