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Economic policy instruments for plastic waste

A review with Nordic perspectives

image of Economic policy instruments for plastic waste

Achieving a high quality of waste plastic materials and recycling processes is a key challenge in closing the resource loops for plastics. This report reviews the status and trends for plastic waste flows and treatment in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Furthermore, it gives an overview of existing policy instruments and the main challenges for designing policy instruments for improved recycling of plastic waste in these Nordic countries. The report identifies potential market failures associated with closing the resource loops for plastics. It reviews the economics research literature on policy instrument design for achieving optimal recycling rates and makes policy recommendations from the Nordic perspective. Finally, it presents results from a survey on market conditions to managers in the recycling and plastic manufacturing industry in Sweden.

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Foreword

Plastics are inexpensive and durable materials which easily can be shaped into a variety of products in a wide range of applications. As a result, production and consumption of plastics have increased significantly since the 1960s. Also waste plastic generation has grown significantly over the last decades creating the need for recycling in a sustainable circular economy. Recycling rates of plastics are currently relatively low in all Nordic countries. Plastics tend to be recycled into low grade products at the same time as at least Sweden, Denmark and Norway have relatively high incineration rates for waste plastics. Achieving a high quality of waste materials and recycling processes is a key challenge in closing resource loops for plastic. The Green Paper by the European Commission suggests looking at how economic instruments could be used to complement existing policy instruments in steering the waste flow through the waste hierarchy such that collection and material recycling of plastics can increase towards sustainable levels.

English

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