European Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potočnik has stated in a recent speech to a major plastics industry summit that energy recovery is a barrier to the availability of plastics for recycling and that we should be focussing on recycling plastics rather than using them for energy recovery:

…There are two major objectives we need to pursue. Obviously, landfill rates must go down as quickly as possible, but it is also important to switch from energy recovery to increased recycling. Plastic recycling rates are far too low across Europe with an average of just 24 per cent. Today, even in countries with high recovery rates, there is simply not enough plastic available for recycling because most of it goes to energy recovery. A dominance of energy recovery over recycling is not acceptable in the medium-term…

This thinking is in line with the European Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe which aims that by 2020: “energy recovery is limited to non recyclable materials” (Source) and the advice of the European Commission that: “The big challenge is to reduce the amount of waste that is sent for incineration which could be recycled instead… To solve this, the UK should look to reuse and recycling and not to over capacity of incineration…” (Source).

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