Among the industries that observe an increasing demand for resources are the electrical & electronic (E&E) appliances and the automotive sector.
Consequently, the volume of waste generated within the Member States has been growing, requiring policymakers to opt for more efficient and circular end-of-life for products combined with advanced waste management systems and minimised outsourcing of raw materials.
One of the measures which can advance this transformation is increased recycling.
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Turning plastics waste into high quality materials is key to fight climate change, marine litter, save natural resources and divert waste from landfilling and incineration.
To further support this transition, the European Union has developed a robust framework of legislative texts on products, materials, waste management operations and recycling targets.
Recycling is an essential element of the waste hierarchy and a sustainable approach towards an ever-growing, market- driven demand for new plastic articles.
With rapid technological development, this is particularly true for the two industrial sectors which are the focus of this paper, namely: electrical & electronic appliances and automotive parts made of plastic.
The restriction on exporting plastic scrap to the Far East, as well as material specific EU and Member States’ regulation, shall both be perceived as an opportunity for the industry.
An opportunity that can be fully exploited only if a balanced approach is struck between improving the circularity of plastics, for example by including targets for a wider set of plastic products, to preserve the natural environment, and eliminating any risks to human health.
Recycling reduces the environmental footprint of plastic parts used in the E&E and automotive sectors, in addition it creates jobs and supports a stable market growth.
However, in order to fully integrate recycled materials in these sectors, a number of challenges must be addressed.
The European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy1 enlists a number of concrete actions to be implemented in the short term to increase the circularity of plastics and limit the adverse effects of plastic waste.
However, a long-term strategy is required for the growing volumes of technical plastics on the EU market.
Such a strategy should focus on enabling a controlled, highly certified and standards-based recycling of these plastics.