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Title
A circular European Plastics Economy: a feasible concept? / Stefanie Gritzmann
AuthorGritzmann, Stefanie
CensorFellner, Johann
PublishedWien, 2018
Descriptionv, 80 Blätter : Illustrationen, Diagramme
Institutional NoteTechnische Universität Wien, Master Thesis, 2018
Institutional NoteDiplomatische Akademie Wien, Master Thesis, 2018
LanguageEnglish
Document typeMaster Thesis
Keywords (DE)Circular Economy / Plastics / European Union / Recycling
Keywords (EN)Circular Economy / Plastics / European Union / Recycling
URNurn:nbn:at:at-ubtuw:1-112413 Persistent Identifier (URN)
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 The work is publicly available
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Abstract (German)

The European Commission (EC) has defined plastic as one of the priority areas in the transition towards a circular economy due to the increasingly adverse effects of the global plastics economy, such as marine pollution. In response to Chinas decision to ban the import of certain types of plastic waste, the EC issued a European strategy on plastic, which discusses all life-phases of plastic items. As the strategy puts a particular focus on plastic packaging and waste management, its main aim is the recyclability of all plastic packaging by 2030. As first step towards this goal, the EC proposed to amend the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive by increasing the legally binding minimum plastic packaging recycling target from the current 22.5% to 55% by 2025. This thesis examines the feasibility of establishing a Circular European Plastics Economy by 2030. An analysis of all European Union (EU) member states concludes that substantial progress was made in plastic waste management. In fact, for the first time more plastic and plastic packaging waste was recycled than landfilled in the EU in 2016. Nevertheless, problems in regards to data availability and accuracy were encountered. Furthermore, the need for a common legally binding definition of the calculation of recycling rates will be stressed. This work concludes that the majority of member states would struggle to comply with an elevated recycling target. When analysing the national recycling systems of five member states (Austria, Finland, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands), it is found that only Germany and the Netherlands would achieve the suggested targets without major efforts. Contrarily, Austria, Spain and especially Finland, the country with the lowest recycling rates in Europe, would face substantial challenges with higher targets. Policy proposals frequently disregard the existence of technical, environmental, social and economic barriers on the road towards a circular economy. It is argued that the idea of a closed-loop plastic economy constitutes a rather idealistic concept due to the inherent complexity of the material and the current limited capability of national waste management systems. While waste management plays a vital role in establishing a more sustainable economy, the utter importance of reducing overconsumption, single-use plastic and limiting waste generation is emphasised.

Abstract (English)

The European Commission (EC) has defined plastic as one of the priority areas in the transition towards a circular economy due to the increasingly adverse effects of the global plastics economy, such as marine pollution. In response to Chinas decision to ban the import of certain types of plastic waste, the EC issued a European strategy on plastic, which discusses all life-phases of plastic items. As the strategy puts a particular focus on plastic packaging and waste management, its main aim is the recyclability of all plastic packaging by 2030. As first step towards this goal, the EC proposed to amend the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive by increasing the legally binding minimum plastic packaging recycling target from the current 22.5% to 55% by 2025. This thesis examines the feasibility of establishing a Circular European Plastics Economy by 2030.

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