28 November 2018

Consumers Favour Biodegradable Plastic Solutions, According to Major CIRC-PACK Survey

A CIRC-PACK-commissioned survey has shed light on the habits and expectations of some 10,000 European consumers when it comes to plastics and plastic packaging – all revealed today in a special circular packaging workshop at the CONAMA environment congress in Madrid, Spain.

The citizens of Belgium, Croatia, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the Istanbul district of Kartal were all quizzed on plastic-related habits and preferences in a recent survey commissioned by CIRC-PACK and conducted by Spanish consumer organisation OCU.

Unveiled today at CONAMA 2018 in Madrid, major findings from the survey say that:

  • For day-to-day items (food, detergents, care products), consumers are less concerned by the environment than by price and quality.
  • Some 30 per cent of consumers always or almost always find packaging on products that don’t need it.
  • The level of waste separation in European homes is good – but not in Croatia and Kartal where citizens feel less well informed.
  • Products packaged in biodegradable plastic are more attractive than those in bio-based or recycled packaging.

According to the survey – conducted from November 2017 to January 2018 – the most common reasons for Europeans not sorting household waste (or not doing it better) are a lack of space at home for separate containers, or distance to waste collection points.

The survey uncovered disparities among countries’ sorting habits. In Italy, some 90 per cent of respondents are “very careful with the segregation of household plastics”, with Belgium also doing well (80 per cent of citizens). In contrast, only 50% of Croatian respondents were very careful with plastic sorting, and inhabitants of Istanbul’s Kartal district even less so (20 per cent of respondents).

When it comes to plastic packaging, Europeans still are still buying packaged products, even though consumers find that: packaging is unnecessary (for 30 per cent of respondents); plastic is difficult to compress (for 37 per cent of respondents), or; plastic is impossible to reuse (57 per cent of respondents).

But what do we think of new plastic materials – those that are bio-based or biodegradable?

Since these materials are not yet widespread in supermarkets and high street shops, it is understandable that the majority of respondents don’t consider them to be their first packaging option for daily use. Italy is an exception, where the majority of consumers do opt for biodegradable alternatives.

But given the option, respondents prefer to buy products packaged in biodegradable plastic ahead of bio-based or recycled plastics.

And among all the products which CIRC-PACK is developing, the solution with the most public acceptance is the biodegradable packaging used for coffee capsules – except in Croatia and Kartal district where this type of product is used less frequently than in the other countries surveyed.

For a run-down of the survey results, readers can watch the video by OCU.

Next week, the CIRC-PACK website will feature an in-depth interview on the survey results with OCU’s Belén Ramos.

20 November 2018

CIRC-PACK to Release Results of Consumer Survey on Plastics at CONAMA 2018

The latest results from the CIRC-PACK project will be presented next week in Madrid, Spain, at the CONAMA 2018 conference (congreso nacional del medio ambiente; national environment congress), one of Europe’s leading environment-related events.

CIRC-PACK will be showcased among a clutch of circular economy initiatives at the event, but will also be presenting the project’s latest results.

In a special workshop on circular packaging, jointly organised by OCU and project co-ordinator CIRCE, the project partners will present the initial results of the CIRC-PACK demonstration cases, in addition to a new survey data from around Europe on consumer habits and expectations with respect to plastics.

The survey results will be unveiled prior to a special focus group session with stakeholders from across the plastics value chain.

Registrations for the session, at 12h00 on Wednesday 28 November at the Palacio Municipal de Congresos in Madrid, can be made in Spanish via this form.

Stay tuned for more news on the survey and workshop - before, during and in follow-up to the conference on and via Twitter @circ_economy.

23 October 2018

“What we want is to make plastics circular,” environment chief tells World Circular Economy Forum

Some 95 per cent of the value of plastics is lost to the economy each year because Europe is not reusing or recycling enough, an international audience heard today in Japan.

Today at the World Circular Economy Forum in Japan, a global audience of experts, business leaders and policy makers heard that in the European Union (EU), 105 billion euros of value is lost each year due to a lack of plastics reuse and recycling – some 95 per cent of the value of plastics in the EU.

Daniel Calleja, director general of the European Commission’s DG Environment, told a packed session in Yokohama that plastic reuse and recycling rates in the bloc remain stubbornly low compared with other materials, but that the EU institutions continue to tackle the issue head on.

“The plastics sector in the EU is a very strategic sector,” Mr Calleja told the forum’s session on Circular Economy for Plastics.

“The sector employs 1.5 million people and has a turnover of 340 billion euros, but plastic is also at the origin of serious environmental issues,” he said, adding that in the EU and beyond, decision makers are exploring ways to make the plastic sector circular, save resources and “reduce plastic leakage into the environment”.

According to the European Commission, 25.8 million tonnes of plastic waste is generated annually in the EU, with less than 30 per cent collected adequately.

For its part, the European Commission has recently introduced a raft of proposals and concrete legislation in recent months to address the plastics challenge within and outwith the bloc.

In January 2018, the EU adopted a Plastics Strategy to ensure that by 2030, all plastic packaging put into the market is reusable or recyclable. Plastic packaging comprises the largest type of plastic waste in the EU.

Mr Calleja also told the forum that single-use plastics would be restricted where there are no alternatives, and that a “restriction dossier” was being prepared for micro-plastics that are intentionally added in products. “We are taking regulatory action at the European level,” said Mr Calleja, “but also at the level of the G7, G20 and within the United Nations to combat plastic pollution. Only international efforts will be able to deliver.”

The environmental policy chief added that innovation would be a key tool in delivering circularity for the European plastics sector – with heavy investment to follow.

“In the coming years we are spending more than 350 million euros in order to promote innovative solutions linked to plastics. We’ll be looking at design and circularity. We do not want to demonise plastics; what we want is to make plastics circular, to make sure we can recycle and reuse them.”

Mr Calleja’s comments echoed those of other international participants in today’s session, all keen to emphasise the link of smart product designs to improving circularity in the sector.

“In Germany we have good collection and sorting systems but this is not enough,” said German environment ministry speaker Regina Dube. “We should also improve packaging design to get to a circular economy.”

In the Europe, the EU’s innovation drive is notably being supported by the bloc’s research and innovation agenda, and the Horizon 2020 programme.

Multi-million euro initiatives including the CIRC-PACK and PlastiCircle projects are being driven forward to improve the circularity of plastic packaging, promote innovations in collection and sorting and boost the production of added value products from recycled plastic packaging waste.

With global plastics production set to double in the next 20 years, the need for regulation, partnerships with the private sector, and strategic investment in circular economy solutions is becoming ever more urgent.

Today's session at the World Circular Economy Forum was co-organised by the Japanese Ministry for the Environment, the Finnish innovation fund Sitra, and the European Commission.

4 October 2018

CIRC-PACK to Meet for Circular Packaging Workshop in the Netherlands

The pan-European CIRC-PACK consortium will convene in Arnhem, the Netherlands later this month, for an international workshop on circular packaging hosted by CIRC-PACK partner Bumaga.

On 30-31 October 2018, the latest event in the CIRC-PACK calendar will take place in Arnhem in the Netherlands, with both a CIRC-PACK steering committee meeting and a Workshop on Circular Packaging on the agenda.

In follow-up to the CIRC-PACK consortium’s general assembly and visit to the Novamont research facilities in Novara (Italy) in May, the latest gathering of the project team will be hosted by Dutch partner Bumaga and a Dutch PET recycling company.

The 31 October workshop will gather industrial stakeholders from the Netherlands and beyond, and includes an interactive session and Dutch case study on circular packaging.

The CIRC-PACK team will join industry representatives to study the following questions: How to produce packaging materials that are future proof? How to ‘ecodesign’ multi-material and multilayer packaging? How can the plastic packaging value chain become more circular?  And how will consumers and public authorities benefit from CIRC-PACK results? These questions will feed into current and future CIRC-PACK efforts as we aim to turn waste to resource, and close the loop on plastic packaging.

For live updates from the workshop and further news, visit and follow the project on Twitter via @circ_economy.