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Plastic recycling policy in the European Union in reaction to response to the recent changes in China' s imports policy

Moraitaki Christini

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Year 2021
Type of Item Master Thesis
Bibliographic Citation Christini Moraitaki, "Plastic recycling policy in the European Union in reaction to response to the recent changes in China' s imports policy", Master Thesis, School of Environmental Engineering, Technical University of Crete, Chania, Greece, 2021
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Nowadays, the widespread use of plastics in all areas of everyday life is the proof of their exceptional and unique properties. However, the rapid production and disposal of plastics over the last 70 years has created serious environmental problems and challenged the solid waste management systems, turning the attention of all developed countries to recycling. Despite the high recycling rates achieved worldwide, only a small percentage of the material resources used in Europe comes from recycled products and recycled materials. The solution to the problem of plastic waste management was provided by China, which for decades absorbed the plastic waste worldwide (45.1% of total imports since 1992). In 2013, however, China introduced a temporary restriction on imports of plastic waste, which required significantly less waste pollution. Shortly afterwards, in 2017, China implemented a new import policy that permanently banned the import of non-industrial plastic waste. Following this new ban campaign, plastic waste began to accumulate in many cities of Europe and of the United States of America or was transported to other Southeast Asian countries.This global plastic crisis led the European Commission in 2015 to adopt a circular economy package. The new European Plastic Strategy has presented a package of measures to make recycling profitable for businesses, to restrict plastic waste and discharge of plastics to the sea, to promote investment and change around the world. In this context, the Circular Plastics Alliance was established in 2018 to help plastic value chains strengthen the European Union market for recycled plastics to 10 million tonnes by 2025. In the last part of this dissertation, the four key recycling techniques, primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary recycling, are analyzed and comparedIn conclusion, it should be mentioned that although global trade in plastic waste relied for decades on the exploitation of the poorly developing countries in Asia by the Rich West, the new import policy implemented by China was the best occasion for Europe to take action, to make regulations, to prohibit the use of many single-use plastic products and to invest in the innovation of plastic waste recycling techniques.

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