Glossary & Regulations

Materials

Biobased plastics

Biobased plastics are made of materials derived
from biomass (plants, e.g. corn, sugarcane, starch
etc.). They can be either biodegradable or nonbiodegradable, the term ‘biobased’ only indicates the source of the material.

Biobased composites

Biocomposites are composites consisting of a
polymer and fibre, of which one or both can be
biobased. The polymer can be either biobased or
fossil based, and the fibre can be either natural or
synthetic. Examples of natural fibres include flax,
hemp, wood, cotton, coconut etc.

Biodegradable plastics

Biodegradable plastics break down under specific
conditions within a defined period of time. The
material decomposes by microorganisms into water, carbon dioxide, methane and sometimes biomass. Biodegradable material can be either biobased or made of fossil fuels, the term ‘biodegradable’ only indicates the end-of-life of the material.

Recycling

Recycling process

The collection, sorting and (mechanical) reprocessing of used materials into new products.

Recyclate

Recycled plastic suitable for use in new products.

Mechanical recycling

Form of recycling in which plastics are separated
based on polymer type and then shredded into
pieces, washed and remelted into granulates.

Recyclable

Being recyclable means that, in theory, the material of the package can be used in the production of new products. However, for a package to be actually recycled, it must be correctly disposed, collected, sorted and recycled.

Design for recyclability

Several factors may hinder the recycling process or influence the quality of the recyclate. It is important to take these into account when designing products.

Others

Circular economy

Regenerative system in which products and
materials flow in cycles without loss in quality or
quantity. A circular economy aims to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times.

Carbon black

Black colourant for plastics, usually found in darker colours because it is cheap and has a very deep colour. Carbon black absorbs near infrared (light) used for material detection in recycling and can therefore not be recycled.

End-of-life

Treatment of materials and products after disposal. For packaging, materials can be reused, recycled, incinerated or dumped as landfill.

Life cycle thinking

An approach that goes beyond only considering
environmental impacts during production of
products, considering the impacts of all life cycle
phases. Life cycles phases typically consist of: raw
material sourcing, production, distribution, usage
and end-of-life.

Initiative
& Goals

International

  • UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • Paris Agreement on climate change
  • Basel Convention
  • New Plastic Economy

European

  • European Strategy for plastics in a circular economy

National

  • Plastic Pacts (UK, FR, NL)
  • German Packaging Act (Verpack G)
Click on the time line dots
2015

EU plastic bag directive

Set: UN Sustainability goals

Set: Paris Action on Climate Change

2017

Set: New Plastic Economy (NPE)

2018

Chinese ban on plastic waste imports

Set: European Strategy for Plastics

2019

Set: Plastic Pacts (NL, UK, FR)

German Packaging Act (Verpack G)

UN export restrictions on hard-to-recycle plastics

Tarief differentiatie (NL)

2020

EU Waste Framework Directive

2021

EU – tax on non-recycled plastic packaging waste (0.80€/kg)

July: EU – Single use plastics & oxo-degradable ban

July: Italy – tax on non-recyclable plastic packaging (0.45€/kg), except: recycled material

July: Spain – tax on non-reusable plastic packging (0.45€/kg)

2022

April: UK – tax on plastic packaging, which contains less than 30% recycled plastic (200 BP/ton)

2024

EU – Tethered caps for beverage bottles up to 3 litres

2025 (EU)

25% rPET in PET-beverage bottles

50% effectively recycled plastic packaging

77% collection rate for single use beverage bottles

2029

EU – 90% collection rate for single use beverage bottles

2030 (EU)

30% rPET in PET-beverage bottles

55% effectively recycled plastic packaging

All plastic packaging should be recyclable or reusable

2050

EU – The Circular economy action plan is realized & Circular economy is implemented

Targets to reach a circular economy

Due to the rapid evolution of the sustainability into the packaging sector as well as local differences of recycling processes and law, information provided within this document are for information only.
We advise you to check your local regulation’s update.