Therefore, plastic transports should be divided into three groups:
– pure plastics: These fractions are already sorted and only need to be extruded. The total quantity of this fraction can thus be recycled. The transport can be listed “green” (like most plastic waste up to now), no complex controls are necessary.
– mixed plastics: These fractions still have to be separated, whereby a certain proportion is (possibly) not recyclable. Here a control is necessary to ensure that the processor of these plastics does everything correctly and that no environmental risks arise. The authorities in the participating countries must be involved. A notification procedure makes this assurance possible.
– contaminated plastic waste: These fractions contain not only different plastics as a mixture, but also impurities. These wastes would be classified as hazardous waste, which also require a notification procedure (procedure of prior consent) which in Europe is implemented in the Waste Shipment Regulation.
This proposal has good intentions and is an important step in many respects – but one must be careful not to stumble! This applies to EU countries such as Austria, especially with a view to not unnecessarily slowing down or even making impossible the recycling of plastics within the European Union.
Many questions remain open
By 1 January 2021, the proposal described above must be incorporated into valid legislation. The EU Commission has therefore submitted a draft to adapt the legal framework. This creates worry lines for companies such as MGG Polymers, which recycle plastics from waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), as many questions remain unanswered and legal pitfalls could develop.
EERA, the Association of European Electronics Recyclers, takes a similar view. They fear that the current draft of the legal text could lead to the obligation to declare WEEE plastics as hazardous waste. The reason for this is that substances such as brominated flame retardants are used as additives to give the plastics the required properties (e.g. flame-retardant). Such a classification would mean that many recycling companies would not be allowed to accept WEEE plastics at all from 1 January next year because they do not have permits to accept hazardous waste.
In addition, the transport of plastics, which would suddenly become hazardous waste, would become considerably more expensive. A further effect would probably be that the cost of incinerating the waste fraction containing the undesirable substances would also increase considerably.