International Industrial Ecology Day 2021

Effects of circularity interventions in the European plastic sector: A hybrid Input-Output approach

The European Union (EU) set ambitious goals towards more sustainable use of plastics, including targets mandating recycling and promotion of product design, and specific policy to curb the use of certain problematic single-use applications. However, economy-wide socio-economic and environmental effects potentially connected to these actions, have not been explored, especially within the wider context of EU low-carbon transition.
Here, we use a hybrid IO model based on the waste input-output (WIO) approach, to represent the production, consumption and waste management of plastic packaging in the EU, and project its development between 2018 and 2030. We take a scenario-based approach to compare a preservation of baseline conditions with alternatives where the main targets of the Plastic Strategy are fulfilled (i.e. 55% recycling, 10% landfill, reduction in use). The background economy is projected with exogenous changes in final demand and sector emission intensities, within the scope of the EU Reference Scenario.
We find that packaging waste could increase to 21,000-22,000 kt by 2030 from the 18,000 kt in 2018. The implementation of circular interventions could lead to significant savings of GHG emissions in the EU, as well as modest increases in employment and value added.


Name Affiliation
Ciprian Cimpan SDU Life Cycle Engineering
Eivind Lekve Bjelle SINTEF
Anders Hammer Stromman NTNU Norwegian Uni Sci & Tech

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