Similar and yet so different - NWE plastic waste inventory
A prerequisite of successful transnational cooperation in the TRANSFORM-CE project is a common understanding and vocabulary as well as awareness about similarities and differences in the participating countries’ plastic waste management systems. Partners from all four project countries led by the German University of Applied Sciences Trier took on to that challenge by analysing and comparing the four different systems. While EU legislation forms the basis of the British, Belgian, Dutch and German waste systems, implementation and organisation differ depending on national framework conditions, regional emphasis and historical evolution. This is particularly visible concerning the definition of and responsibilities for packaging waste and the associated collection systems, which is the most crucial waste stream for the TRANSFORM-CE project. This ranges from the separate collection of packaging waste at household level to deposit return systems with collection points, and from public and non-profit, regional to private, national entities responsible for collection and treatment.
Reflecting the different existing entities and responsibilities for plastic waste in the respective country, the provision of feedstock for our pilot plants in Almere and Manchester comes from different partners and sources. While the sources might be different, the provided polymers are again similar.
In Germany, there are three partners (a public municipal waste management authority, a private system operator and a specialised SME) for the feedstock provision. This provides the opportunity to integrate a wide range of waste fractions as well as collection types.
In the Netherlands, municipalities are responsible for the collection and processing of packaging waste from households. The sorting plant of the PMC fraction will provide mixed plastics and colored foils for the pilot plant in Almere and PET for the pilot plant in Manchester.
In Belgium, the NPO Fost Plus operating on the national level is responsible for the coordination, collection and treatment of household packaging waste. In cooperation with Fost Plus, the TRANSFORM-CE partners IDEA and Materia Nova will deliver the Belgian feedstock to the two pilot plants.
In the UK, the local authorities decide on the waste system for their residents and area. This results in a high variety of collection systems. The feedstock delivery for the TRANSFORM-CE pilot plants comes from household collection of packaging waste in Greater Manchester, which project partner Viridor separates at a Material Recycling Facility and conditions at a Polymer Recycling Facility.
With the groundwork of a common understanding established, the TRANSFORM-CE team will proceed with comparing different collection systems and their effects on plastic capture, and investigating regional conditions of plastic circular economy in greater detail.