According to a WWF Living Planet report, if we continue to consume natural resources at this rate, we will need three times more materials and 70% more food in 30 years' time.
So what global guidelines should the recycling of the future follow?
Once resources have reached the end of their useful life, there are many ways to reuse them. For example, food waste can be reused for compost and biogas, packaging waste and plastic bottles can be used for new packaging, and those that cannot be used end up in landfill.
The EU has a target of 65% reuse and recycling of municipal waste by 2035 (currently 44%). If this target is achieved, this could lead to a reduction of 500 million tonnes of greenhouse gases.
Producing products from recycled elements brings many more environmental benefits than if they were produced from scratch. It not only saves on new raw materials, but also on water and energy, reducing the environmental footprint of manufacturing. Thus, instead of favouring a consumption model based on use and throw away, a more sustainable model is promoted: the circular economy.
Therefore, if the situation does not improve, plastic recycling will become unprofitable, jeopardising the transition to circularity. This would have serious environmental and socio-economic consequences.
Against this background, it is necessary to boost the market for secondary raw materials with mandatory recycled material, e.g. for packaging, vehicles, construction materials or batteries.
In conclusion, we must continue to raise awareness of recycling and start to take more account of the circular economy consumption model, a much more sustainable model that will provide us with long-term environmental and economic benefits.