The European Commission’s proposed mandatory target to incorporate at least 25% of recycled plastics into new cars was met with praise from recyclers and scepticism from carmakers and the plastics industry. By volume, 50% of today’s cars are made of plastic, according to EuRIC, the European recycling industry association. That includes dashboards, bumpers, handles, buttons, casings, ceiling fabric, seats and seat belts, airbags, carpeting, etc., the group said in a paper.

Because plastics are lightweight and contribute to fuel efficiency, demand for the material in the auto sector has kept increasing over the years. Nowadays, an average car contains between 150 and 200 kg of plastic, EuRIC says. To ensure more of those are recycled, the European Commission tabled new legislation in July covering vehicle design and end-of-life treatment, focusing on improving recycling and reuse of materials.

Automakers, for their part, are wary of the Commission’s proposals. Carmakers may sometimes add carbon fibres to plastics to improve their robustness, making them “challenging to recycle,” said ACEA, the EU carmaker’s association. “Recycling technologies may not yet be available” to enable recycling at market scale, the group pointed out. “While European automakers are not opposed to recycled content targets for plastics, they must be realistic and technically feasible,” ACEA told EURACTIV in emailed comments, warning of “potential pitfalls if targets are unworkable”.

Source: Euractiv

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