Logo Rijksoverheid

Frequently Asked Questions

Initially led by France, the Netherlands and Denmark, the European Plastic Pact is a public-private coalition that forms a European network of companies, states and other organisations such as NGOs on mastering single-use plastic products and packaging.

In the face of the proliferation of plastic waste, the aim of the pact is to set ambitious common objectives and to encourage cooperation, innovation and harmonisation at the European level, in order to bring about a truly circular European plastics economy.

The Pact relies on the “pioneers” in the plastics value chain and on the most committed governments, in order to create a bold movement that will pave the way for the rest of the market.

The Pact works on all levels to reduce the release of plastics into the environment: by improving the recyclability and reusability of products by design, by shifting to a more responsible use of plastics, by increasing collection, sorting and recycling, and by incorporating more recycled materials into new products and packaging.

Participants in the European Plastics Pact are determined to promote a smart, circular approach to plastics. Each group of participants has its own role and responsibility required to solve the European plastics puzzle together:

  • Plastics production and recycling companies: producers of virgin, biosourced and/or recycled plastics in the chemical industry, the fossil industry and the bioplastics industry.
  • Plastics user companies: companies that use plastics in consumer goods and/or for packaging, such as the food and packaging industry, or in their activities, such as retailers, brands, the hotel industry, logistics providers, caterers and event organisers.
  • Collection, sorting and recycling companies: companies in waste collection and in the sorting and recycling industry that supply plastic waste for reuse or recycling.
  • Governments: States belonging to the European Economic Area.
  • Supporting organisations: Stakeholders which do not play a direct role in the plastics value chain, but which can  play a significant role in the implementation of the European Plastics Pact by offering specific support, for example industry associations, environmental NGOs and suppliers of innovative technologies.

The European Plastics Pact is based on four “aspirational” objectives to achieve better life cycle management of plastics:

  • Reusability and recyclability: Design all plastic packaging and single-use plastic products placed on the market to be reusable where possible and in any case recyclable by 2025;
  • Responsible use of plastics: move towards a more responsible use of plastic packaging and single-use plastic products, aiming to reduce virgin plastic products and packaging by at least 20% (by weight) by 2025, with half of this reduction coming from an absolute reduction in plastics;
  • Collection, sorting and recycling: increase the collection, sorting and recycling capacity by at least 25 percentage points by 2025 and reach a level that corresponds to market demand for recycled plastics;
  • Use of recycled plastics: Increase the use of recycled plastics in new products and packaging by 2025, with plastics user companies achieving an average of at least 30% recycled plastics (by weight) in their product and packaging range.

The Pact’s main aim is to close the loop and significantly increase recycling of plastics. Until recycling is 100% effective however, it remains necessary to work on responsible use of plastics and to reduce unnecessary use of plastics. This helps decrease plastics waste and littering, while reducing costs for businesses at the same time. The reduction of raw materials use is an essential step in any ecodesign strategy.

The four objectives in the pact provide the direction we individually and collectively strive towards. They are voluntary and not legally binding. To help achieve those goals and further the circular plastics economy in Europe signatories:

  • cooperate along the value chain at the European level to stimulate the development of innovative solutions;
  • exchange best practices and lessons learned;
  • invest in working together cross-border to improve and harmonize guidelines, national standards and supporting frameworks.

Participants will report on the efforts they have made in good faith to contribute to these objectives, in relation to the more sustainable solutions they actually have brought to the market. If an objective or commitment is deemed to be untenable or inapplicable on a company-wide scale, the company may of course report this according to the “comply or explain” principle.

The governance and reporting will be set up to be as simple, clear and efficient as possible to limit workload and administrative burden:

  • Working group and steering committee meetings will be organized as efficiently as possible in order to limit the need for travel.
  • Reporting will be harmonized with existing financial and other reporting mechanisms. Participants will be able to use existing reports for national pacts or global commitments, supplemented with a European Plastics Pact section.

The Pact originates from this simple observation: it is hard to excel on your own. The Pact’s network helps companies to achieve their ambitions, to implement their plastics strategies and to create a level playing field. More concrete, companies can expect:

  • a unique platform for discussion at the European level with peers, other stakeholders in the plastics value chain, governments and other organisations. Companies will be able to put forward their position, solutions and dilemmas, and also to inspire the European work programme around the European Green Deal and the new Circular Economy Package;
  • credibility of their approach and positioning as a frontrunning company;
  • peer support and sharing of good practices;
  • access to working groups to discuss obstacles that businesses encounter in the transition towards a circular plastic economy, including the lack of harmonisation of national rules and the difficulties of cross-border management of the waste and recycling material flows;
  • access to the big annual meeting enabling European companies to network and to showcase their innovations.

The four ‘bold, quantifiable and aspirational goals’ as mentioned in the Pact are challenging to reach. Especially because there are many uncertainties in the process towards 2025. We need new innovations coming to the market, we need courage and creativity of all stakeholders involved, we are dependent on legal structures and we are dependent on the development of the global market. But the goals give direction in our individual and collective efforts. In the end we all have to explain what actions we have developed, which achievements we have accomplished, and to what extend we have reached our goals. And hopefully we will have reached the targets set, only because we have the aspiration, the willingness and perseverance to do the utmost within our capabilities to create the circular plastics economy we all wish to create.

All targets can be measured relative to the total turnover of each company in order to prevent interference of the prosperity of the business with the results of the efforts taken by the individual company to reach the goals as mentioned in this Pact.

The Pact takes in the entire value chain and all stages of the plastics life cycle: production, conversion, distribution, use and waste management. It aims to be complementary to existing initiatives. In particular:

  • the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment ­led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. The EMF has been a major contributor to the European Plastics Pact and the vision of the pact is aligned with the Global Commitment.
  • the Circular Plastics Alliance led by the European Commission. The CPA focuses on recycling and reuse of plastic recyclates. The Commission supports the work on the European Plastics Pact and follows it closely as an observer.
  • national pacts in different European countries. The Pact was built on existing national pacts with the aim to add European cooperation and exchange, not to duplicate national work. The goals set in the pact may differ slightly from the different national pacts.

The pact does not create a parallel process competing with EU discussions. Instead, it intends to support and strengthen them:

  • by helping governments and companies to comply with EU regulations;
  • by building up inspiration for new EU initiatives, for example on the framework for food containers;
  • by ensuring that there will be no deterioration in the level of environmental and consumer protection.

A group of signatory governments will finance the operating budget of the Pact as part of their contribution to this initiative.

If you are a stakeholder in the plastics value chain or a government and wish to sign the European Plastics Pact, please go to Sign the Pact and follow the instructions.

In case you have general questions regarding the Pact, you can direct them to info@europeanplasticspact.org.

By following the necessary steps for signing the Pact (see website) before 4 March 2020, signatories can be part of the official launch on 6 March 2020 together with other frontrunners.

It is also possible to join the Pact after its launch. If you intend to sign the Pact, but are not able to conclude the internal procedures before 4 March, please let us know at info@europeanplasticspact.org.

The Pact will be launched on the 6th of March 2020 in Brussels in the presence of the ministers, CEOs and the European Commission. After the signing ceremony, the real work begins. In the afternoon of 6 March, the first six working groups will be organised to structure the work on the pact and to start implementation. Interested signatories are invited to join in these and future working groups:

  1.  Monitoring and reporting
  2. Reduce and reuse models
  3. Design for circularity
  4. Waste shipment
  5. Food contact applications
  6. Steering the supply chain

This is an initial list of working group topics.

All EEA countries within Europe are welcome to sign the European Plastics Pact. Given the special situation of the UK, just leaving the European Union after finalizing the draft text of the European Plastics Pact, and considering the huge effort and inspiring activities of the UK with their national Plastics Pact, the UK will also be most welcome to join forces with the rest of the Signatories of the European Plastics Pact.