The European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) together with 30 other industry associations representing major market sectors along the European plastics value chain have issued a joint letter to the European Commission, urging the adoption in 2023 of an EU-harmonized rule for calculating chemically recycled content through mass balance.
Urgent legal certainty on mass balance chain of custody is indispensable to unleash the investments in chemical recycling infrastructure required for the European plastics system to meet the EU’s 2050 climate and circularity targets. Therefore, we call on the European Commission to use the Single Use Plastics Directive (SUPD) Implementing Act as a legal basis to adopt, in 2023, EU rules enabling the use of a mass balance credit method with a fuel-use exempt model to calculate the chemically recycled content in plastics.
Annick Meerschman, Cefic Innovation Director, said:
“As we move from a linear to a circular economy, there is an urgent need to rapidly expand complementary recycling solutions such as mechanical and chemical recycling. Through this joint letter, we are making a strong and collective plea.
“We urge the EU to adopt a mass balance chain of custody approach for calculating chemically recycled content in plastics, which is crucial for achieving the 2030 recycled content targets. Moreover, supporting chemical recycling as a complementary solution to mechanical recycling could attract more investments in this technology and help the EU achieve its targets.”
Virginia Janssens, Plastics Europe’s Managing Director, said:
“We need all up- and down-stream levers to be deployed, including both mechanical and chemical recycling, to create a circular plastics economy. Chemical recycling is crucial because it is the only method available for recycling certain kinds of plastic waste and to reach the high-quality level for recycled plastics used for food contact, medical and other applications. However, the complexity of the European plastics system, and long-investment cycles, mean investment decisions taken now will determine what the industry looks like in 2050.
“To accelerate the growth of chemical recycling, investors need the confidence provided by a full recognition of chemical recycling and acceptance of the mass balance model by EU policy makers. The window of opportunity to make investment decisions is rapidly closing.”
Alongside the SUPD Implementing Act, the joint letter calls for clarity and coherence of the rules across other pieces of legislation addressing recycled content in plastics and non-plastic chemical materials. This would boost the circular economy, strengthen the EU’s strategic autonomy in raw materials and contribute to meet climate targets.
DOWNLOAD THE JOINT LETTER TO EU COMMISSION HERE
More information: why establishing EU legal certainty on mass balance is essential to the plastics transition?
- Mass balance is a widely used chain of custody model that gives a high level of confidence that the proportion of chemically recycled monomers and basic polymers put into the manufacturing process, is correctly certified in the wide variety of output products that may result. This methodology is already used and accepted in other sectors where sustainable materials are included in a mixed production process, for example sustainable forestry products and fair-trade cocoa and chocolate.
- Mass balance enables the integration of chemical recycling processes, into currently existing large-scale industrial plastics production installations and ecosystems – the most viable and efficient way of scaling European chemical recycling capacity. However, there should be no illusions about the scale and complexity of the transition. Sufficient time is required to plan, finance, secure permits and construct additional recycling units, as each of these steps can take several years.
- The Mass Balance model should be based on credible third-party verification and certification. Process losses and outputs consumed as energy should not count towards the recycled content targets.
DOWNLOAD THE FACT SHEET: 5 THINGS THAT NEED TO HAPPEN NOW FOR THE CHEMICAL RECYCLING TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE CIRCULER ECONOMY