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To-do-list to start a plastics post-use recycling system

Claudio Celata,
Claudio Celata, General Manager of the Italian plastics and rubber processing machinery and moulds manufacturers' Association (Assocomaplast)

Since many years several European countries have activated more and more hi-techs for post-use plastics sorting, recovery and recycling (in particular bottles, commercial and industrial film, agriculture film).
In connection with these technologies, marketed in several countries worldwide, in Europe and elsewhere, plastics sorting, recovery and recycling involve many problems, economic first of all.
To avoid such contradictions it is necessary to deeply evaluate pros and cons of the recovery activities, since the very beginning. The Directive 94/62/EC established the general principles and guidelines for the management of packaging materials and packaging waste. Like any other directive, it delegated to the member states the choice of what specific operational and regulatory solutions to adopt, reserving the right to subsequently verify the compliance of the national regulations with the European measures.
The most problematic question, for each member state, has been how to transpose the community provisions into its statutory system, in manner that both respects its national peculiarities while preserving a common syntax with the other countries of the Union.
The solutions adopted therefore differ widely, with each state distributing the financial obligations and responsibilities according to specific criteria valid only within its own national borders.
In light of this, we can now look at the 15 member states and group together those which have adopted similar or comparable models in their national systems:

- "Integrated management" with the local authorities (France, Italy, Spain). The organisational and financial obligations are subdivided among the three main participants, that is to say the Compliance Schemes, the local authorities and the materials organisations.
- "Parallel management" model (Austria, Germany). These countries have instituted an autonomous and independent mechanism for organising sorted collection, which operates in parallel with that carried out by the local authorities (for which reason they are also called "dual systems").
- "Mixed" model (Belgium, for example). In this group of countries, collection of certain packaging materials is "integrated" with the local Authorities, while the collection of other materials or product types is instead independently handled by the Compliance Schemes with full managerial and financial autonomy.
- Special cases. The system in the United Kingdom is instead based solely on market dynamics, so that the producers and the Compliance Schemes which represent them do not manage the collection, but directly control the results of recycling and recovery. There is therefore no formalised institutional relationship with the local authorities.

 

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