Closing the plastic loop without the government is impossible

Amsterdam, 27 August 2018 Five years ago, the Dutch plastic cycle value chain agreement was signed and the participants declared to do their utmost to close the plastic loop. According to the information on their website, essential steps should have been put in place to create sustainable production processes, the promotion of plastic re-use on a large scale, through engineering and design solutions, and the collection of plastic waste in a environmentally friendly manner, within two years after signing the agreement.

However, the plastic loop is still open and, even worse, plastic producers actively frustrate these steps necessary to close the plastic loop. P-plus, the multimedia magazine for corporate social responsibility in the Netherlands, published an eye-opening interview with Peter Rem, TU Delft professor. He states that plastic producers deliberately prevent the recycling of their plastics, by adding components that make high-quality recycling virtually impossible, in order to protect their turnover. And therefore, thousands of different types of plastics have been created all of which have a slightly different chemical composition.

Peter Rem is of the opinion that the government should act by forcing plastic producers to take back their own plastics. Recycling must become and integral part of the production process. Rem: “The producer of Domestos, for instance, knows that their bottle will not be returned to them. They pay their monetary contribution to the Packaging Waste Fund so their bottles can be recycled into some lower quality product. Only if the bottle is returned to Domestos will it be interesting for them to recycle their bottles into new bottles.”

Maria Westerbos, director of the Plastic Soup Foundation: “We signed the plastic cycle value chain agreement full enthusiasm, but always remained of the opinion that the government should also implement the appropriate rules and regulations. Sadly, it turned out that the policies, based on the voluntary agreements, do not work. Therefore the government should ensure that recycling becomes an integral part of the production process, and not seen as just something that limits financial gains. Plastic producers should be ashamed.”