The EU's single-use plastic directive: Turning the tide on plastic waste

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What’s inside this report?

In response to the heightened awareness of plastic pollution, the EU has approved the single-use plastics directive aimed at reforming attitudes towards the consumption of plastics and reducing plastic pollution.

The directive aims to tackle the 10 most common single-use plastic items found on European beaches, which account for 49% of all waste. 

Read our insight to understand:

  • How the directive will affect supply and demand in the plastics industry
  • Why we think the recycling industry needs much more investment if the directive’s targets are to be met
  • Which European countries have the most work to do in order to meet the directive
  • Will the directive’s initiatives help big brands to meet their ambitious recycled content targets?

The target placed on PET beverage bottles is arguably the most ambitious of those in the proposal.

Wood Mackenzie quoted in European Plastic Product Manufacturer

The European Commission's proposal for the Single Use Plastic Directive has been formally endorsed by the European Parliament. This initiative, which includes a 90% collection target for PET beverage bottles by 2029, delivers on the commitment made in the European Plastics Strategy to tackle wasteful and damaging plastic litter through legislative action. In this Insights report, Wood Mackenzie Chemicals investigates the background of this piece of legislation, what is aiming to achieve, and will provide an overview into the implications in meeting the ambitious proposal, including answering the following questions: • Which European countries are in a weak position? • What do the targets mean for industry players? • What are the challenges to achieving targets and how can we mitigate these? • Will we continue to see product bans and charges? • What are the implications for PET and RPET demand?

Table of contents

  • Executive summary
  • Key implications:
  • The rising tide of plastic waste
  • Turning the tide
  • The future is circular
  • Single-use plastics under the spotlight
  • Improving waste collection
  • Collection does not guarantee recycling
  • Impact of the Basel Convention
  • A win-win for PET
  • Summary
  • Key findings

Tables and charts

This report includes 9 images and tables including:

  • Per capita consumption of PET beverage bottles in 2017
  • Major commodity plastics and their uses
  • Europe waste collection and treatment by country
  • EU PET bottle consumption and collection rate
  • Key activities in PET recycling
  • Bottle deposit schemes shown to boost bale quality
  • European plastic waste exports on downward trend
  • Industry targets for recycle content in PET bottles

What's included

This report contains:

  • Document

    EU single use plastic directive Insight.pdf

    PDF 966.12 KB