TEPPFA: Pipe recycling target ‘can go further with law change’
The European plastic pipe industry has committed to a new recycling target that goes above and beyond.
This is according to The European Plastic Pipes and Fittings Association (TEPPFA), which revealed its members have pledged to increase their recycling targets to 250,000 tonnes annually by 2020. Currently, the VinylPlus voluntary initiative expects the plastics pipe industry to recycle 120,000 of plastic a year by 2020.
However, the market’s success depends on the flexibility of European legislation. TEPPFA members believe they can more than double the target set by VinylPlus if the EU reviews its regulations in a way that would complement the European Commission’s much-hyped Circular Economy package promoting reuse and recycle culture, resorting to incineration with energy recovery as a second-choice route and landfill as a last resort for managing plastic waste.
Contrary to aims of the Circular Economy, TEPPFA has identified that under the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Legislation and the Waste Framework Directive (WFD), there are some additives found in some end-of-life plastics suitable for recycling that will be classed as hazardous or harmful, sealing their fate in landfill.
TEPPFA insists that recent research shows these so-called ‘legacy substances’ pose no health, safety or environmental risks when recycled if managed “under specified conditions”.
“The problem posed under REACH and WFD is that without amendments being made more plastic waste will be incinerated and sent to landfill when it can safely be recycled without risk to human health or the environment,” said TEPPFA General Manager, Tony Calton. “Research has shown that none of the potentially harmful additives are released during the recycling and pipe manufacturing processes, or during the use phase of the products as they are locked into the matrix of the material.”
To combat this, TEPPFA is lobbying at EU level for a special status to be granted to recyclable materials containing additives which may fall under the REACH and WFD legislation, allowing it to be recycled and not consigned to a less sustainable form of disposal.
“We are deeply encouraged by the industry wide commitment from our members to increase recycling levels and see it as a landmark moment for the sustainability agenda in our sector. However, in order to achieve the highest levels of recycling we need policymakers at both EU and member state level to partner with industry to resolve this issue,” said Calton.
TEPPFA members are working together to vastly reduce the industry’s environmental impact at a Europe-wide level, committing to a new recycling target which incorporates PVC-u, polyethylene and polypropylene. The commitment is supported by advances in recycling technology, eco-design and the wider availability of suitable recycled material to incorporate into high quality products.