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Frequently Asked Questions

Initially led by France, the Netherlands and Denmark, the European Plastic Pact was 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 was 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 relied 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 worked 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.

The European Plastics Pact was 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[1], 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.
[1] after accounting for organisational growth or shrinkage

The Pact’s main aim was 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.

Each Signatory used their most accurate year of collected data as the baseline for the absolute reduction target. This was to ensure that the Pact can welcome all members aligned with its vision to bring about a truly circular European plastics economy.

Data reporting from Signatories directly contributed to the annual European Plastics Pact report. Companies provided data related to Target 1,2 and 4. Governments and the Waste Management sector provided data related to Target 2 & 3. All Signatories included priorities and achievements related to their relevant Targets and provided case study examples of progress towards the targets.

The four ‘bold, quantifiable and aspirational goals’ as mentioned in the Pact were purposefully challenging to reach.

Especially because there were many uncertainties in the process towards 2025. We needed new innovations coming to the market, we needed courage and creativity of all stakeholders involved, we were dependent on legal structures and we were dependent on the development of the global market.

But the goals gave direction in our individual and collective efforts.

The Pact took in the entire value chain and all stages of the plastics life cycle: production, conversion, distribution, use and waste management. It aimed 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 was 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 supported the work on the European Plastics Pact and followed 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 differed slightly from the different national pacts.

The pact did not create a parallel process competing with EU discussions. Instead, it intended 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.

From June 2022, European Plastics Pact Signatories funded the Pact through an annual contribution. The annual contribution was a flat fee.

The European Plastics Pact wound up its current activities as 15 September 2023.

For further details, please see full statement – here.