Cefic: ‘Mass Balance’ Plastics Regs Needed

Jan. 13, 2023
European chemical trade group calls for approach to recycling that includes virgin fossil-fuel feedstocks.

Cefic, the European Chemical Industry Council, is asking regulators in the EU to adopt a “mass balance” approach for plastics recycling that allows for the use of recycled feedstocks in existing plants along with “virgin fossil-sourced feedstock.”

According to Cefic, the EU’s Single-Use Plastics Directive and the proposal for a revised Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation set out recycling targets for used packaging to reduce packaging waste and promote the use of recycled content in new packaging. In particular, the European Commission’s proposal for the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation stipulates that at least 50% of all plastic waste in the EU be recycled by 2025.

“The EU chemical industry supports a broad EU action to tackle waste and accelerate recycling,” Cefic notes. But to accelerate chemical recycling rates in the EU, industry needs to invest more in chemical recycling facilities.

“For the investments to take off, clarity about the use of a mass balance chain of custody method to calculate the recycled content of plastics in products is required,” Cefic states. “Unfortunately, the current Commission proposal does not provide enough clarity on the use of this method which can hamper further progress of chemical recycling.”

According to Cefic, mass balance is a recognized chain-of-custody model, as defined in ISO standard 22095. It’s already used in other sectors, such as biofuels, fair-trade cacao and coffee. It tracks a specific characteristic, in this case recycled materials co-processed with virgin materials in existing assets and guarantees that the recycled content is appropriately allocated to products.

“Mass balance will help ensure that recycled feedstock progressively replaces more and more fossil-based virgin materials in the production of plastics and a broad range of chemicals and products in Europe,” according to Cefic.

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