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Plastics manufacturers unite around a common vision to redesign the European plastics system.

European plastics manufacturers have agreed a 'Plastics Transition' roadmap to accelerate the transition to make plastics circular, drive lifecycle emissions to net zero, and foster the sustainable use of plastics.

The Plastics Transition

In 'The Plastics Transition' roadmap, developed with the support of Deloitte, Plastics Europe lays out a potential pathway for a circular and net-zero plastics industry in Europe. The roadmap provides a framework, milestones for 2030 and indicators to monitor progress, identify bottlenecks and find solutions to keep moving forward.

A strategically important industry for Europe

Plastics are a strategically important material for the European economy, with applications in almost every sector, including automotive, construction, packaging, consumer goods, healthcare, and renewable energy. Because there are no functionally suitable alternatives for many applications, plastics will continue to play a key role in meeting a wide range of societal needs.

Plastics Europe and its members recognise the severity of the climate crisis and the challenge of plastic waste. Faster systemic change is essential to successfully meet the EU's net-zero and circularity objectives. "It was necessary for us to formulate a vision for a truly sustainable plastics system that continues to meet consumer and societal demands," explains Marco Ten Bruggencate, President of Plastics Europe.

Plastics Europe has worked with Deloitte to produce The Plastics Transition roadmap. "It lays out a pathway for a circular and net-zero plastics industry in Europe," says Maarten Dubois, Director Sustainability & Circularity at Deloitte.

Three strategic pillars for transition

The roadmap consists of three pillars. Importantly, each is accompanied by illustrative business cases.

Making plastics circular

Plastics producers are developing new approaches relating to the reuse of products, product design, and business models. These approaches include fostering circular business models, further developing mechanical and chemical recycling, and expanding plastic production from biomass and captured carbon. To enable this, circular feedstock must be made available, and the demand and investments for circular solutions must be incentivised.

Making the plastics life cycle net-zero

To successfully pursue the net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) target, levers include increased energy efficiency, the availability of low-carbon fuels, production using low-carbon electricity, and carbon capture & storage. This will require access to low-carbon energy, establishing a level playing field with global competitors, reducing GHG emissions in plastic conversion, and less incineration of plastic waste.

Fostering sustainable use of plastics

Producing and using plastic applications in a way that is safe for human health and the environment is key. Members of Plastics Europe are continually developing new actions, tools, and methodologies to comply with legal obligations and to foster safety and sustainability. They include partnering with value chain partners, safely managing additives, eliminating pellet loss during production, and collaborating to overcome knowledge gaps and prevent leakage.

A living document

The roadmap provides a framework, milestones for 2030 and indicators to monitor progress, identify bottlenecks and find solutions to keep moving forward. Based on aggregated results from a survey of Plastics Europe's members, the industry's progress against these indicators for circularity and GHG emissions will be assessed and transparently reported.

Virginia Janssens, Managing Director of Plastics Europe, describes the roadmap as a "living document" that will be progressively updated based on new insights and changes to the industry environment.

About the roadmap

In 2021 Plastics Europe commissioned the report ReShaping Plastics: Pathways to a Circular, Climate Neutral Plastics System in Europe. It included recommendations for transitioning to the EU's net-zero carbon emissions and circularity goals by 2050.Building on this, Plastics Europe, with the support of Deloitte, has now developed The Plastics Transition roadmap . A package of measures to implement the report's recommendations, it is designed to help the plastics value chain accelerate its transition towards the 2050 goals.

'The Plastics Transition' roadmap is a joint effort between Deloitte and Plastics Europe. Deloitte Monitor meticulously crafted the research-based roadmap in close collaboration with Plastics Europe and its members. ACNE, the creative agency of Deloitte Digital, designed a hands-on communication strategy, created several communication materials, and foresaw the visual design of the report.

About Plastics Europe

Plastics Europe is the pan-European association of plastics manufacturers. With close to 100 members producing over 90% of all polymers across Europe, our mission is to accelerate a solutions-driven approach to the circularity and climate goals of a sustainable plastics industry. The entire European plastics industry value chain employs around 1.6 million people at more than 60,000 companies, including many SMEs. Together, we create a turnover of €360 billion . Plastics Europe is an active partner in the World Plastics Council and the Global Plastics Alliance.

The Plastics Transition

Our industry’s roadmap for plastics in Europe to be circular and have net-zero emissions by 2050

It aims to guide, incentivise and accelerate industry action and performance, providing an evidence base to inform value chain dialogue and policymaking,

Virginia Janssens,
Managing Director of Plastics Europe