On 20 October, European Bioplastics supported the organisation of an informal breakfast event at the Italian Permanent Representation in Brussels that could influence the Council negotiations on the PPWR in relation to compostable plastics. The purpose of the event was to foster information sharing among environmental attachés, from various diplomatic missions, on the Italian experience in the separate collection and organic recycling (composting and AD) of compostable plastic packaging.

Tiberio Schmidlin, the host from the Italian Permanent Representation, provided a brief introduction, emphasizing the importance of improving awareness on the mechanisms put in place in Italy, allowing the smooth recycling of compostable plastics in industrial bio-waste facilities.

At the event, Marco Ricci, a Senior Expert at CIC (Italian Composting and Biogas Association), gave a presentation on the role of compostable plastics in Italian organic recycling. He provided a comprehensive national overview and an update on data, methodology, qualitative and quantitative results on separate collection of bio-waste, sorting technologies, composting and AD initiatives, and projects.

“In 2021 almost 7,4 million tons of bio-waste were separately collected in Italy, representing about 39% of all MSW collected for recycling; of this amount 5,2 million tons (or 87 kg per inhabitant) were food-waste. Thanks to the engagement of more than 50 million citizens, Italy is currently among the best performing EU Member States in diverting food-waste from disposal, in favour of its recycling in composting or combined anaerobic digestion (AD) and composting facilities. The bio-waste recycling sector includes almost 360 composting plants, more than 60 of which adopt a pre-AD step that allow to produce biogas and thus electricity, heat and biomethane; a small number of facilities apply AD only.”

Ricci reiterated CIC supports the Commission’s proposal to make several applications mandatory compostable (Art.8.1). He shared that CIC opposes the requirement for compostable plastics to “allow material recycling” (Art.8.3). According to CIC, the priority of the industrial bio-waste recycling sector is to make sure that compostable items put on the market can guarantee an increase of bio-waste capture rates and a reduction of bio-waste contamination by unwanted materials, above all plastics. An essential condition for that to happen is that compostable products are acceptable only if they are connected to food and/or food consumption, until their end of life (as bio-waste).

At the end of the event, attendees were encouraged to continue discussions and share information with the view of reaching agreement on Art.8 and Annex II of the PPWR.