FDE director of environmental sustainability Laura Degallaix’s comments followed a letter sent by members of the packaging supply chain to European Council, Commission and Parliament members. It which warned of a significant under-investment in waste packaging infrastructure.
Degallaix voiced concerns that the EU’s circular economy targets are being undermined by this serious lack of investment.
“To play our full part in the circular economy, food and drink manufacturers need access to a secure supply of safe and affordable recycled packaging materials for our products,” said Degallaix.
Plastics tax no help
“But less than half of all plastic packaging waste is currently recycled, with most of it going to landfill or incineration. And we do not believe the plastic tax will help.”
The proposed tax would see national Governments charged €0.80 (£0.73) for each kilogram of non-recycled plastic packaging – reduced for poorer countries based on population size. While this will not affect the UK, since its implementation will come to pass once the UK has left the EU, it is unknown how it will affect manufacturer that selling their products to the continent.
“Any money raised from the levy will go into Europe’s general COVID-19 economic recovery pot, rather than create an important revenue stream for critical waste management infrastructure and recycling technologies,” Degallaix added.
“In addition, an increased tax burden will inevitably impact companies’ ability to invest in the innovations needed to find more sustainable solutions for packaging.”
Investment in waste management
She called for the European Commission to ring-fence investment equivalent to the plastic levy revenue – estimated to be around €6.6bn annually – for waste management infrastructure and recycling technologies. This would create a true circular economy for plastics in Europe, she said.
“For our part, food and drink manufacturers are investing and innovating to limit the quantity of packaging we use, and to find sustainable alternatives, while maintaining the highest level of safety of our products,” Degallaix concluded.
“But without investment of public funds, now, Europe’s transformative ambition for a resource efficient, circular economy will take a significant hit.”
Other signatories of the letter included convenience food packaging association Pack2Go Europe and the Union of European Soft Drinks Associations.
Meanwhile, Coca-Cola European Partners has invested in a recycling start-up to further its journey toward 100% recycled polyethylene terephthalate in all its bottles.