EPRO, the European Association of Plastics Recycling and Recovery Organisations (www.epro-plasticsrecycling.org), looks back on 20 years of successful work for the environmentally friendly taking back and recycling of plastic waste.
Founded in 1997 as a pan-European network of initially 7 organisations, the number of members with the recently announced accession of IFFPG, the Irish return system for agriculturally used plastics, has currently grown to 20 partners from 17 countries.
Liam Moloney, Managing Director of IFFPG and youngest member of the EPRO family, states the reasons why IFFPG joined EPRO: “IFFPG joined EPRO recently with a number of key objectives in mind. These objectives include exchanging ideas with other members and sharing information with regards to best practice in relation to plastics recovery. We are also interested in finding out about impending EU legislation and in having a voice in influencing legislation through membership of a strong representative body. Our decision to join was also influenced by the quality of the existing membership, some of whom we had very positive interactions with before joining EPRO.”
Plastics charity and member based organisation RECOUP are the UK member organisation of EPRO. Stuart Foster, CEO of RECOUP commenting on RECOUP’s involvement in EPRO said “EPRO is not just another association. It is a practical group of like-minded and very knowledgeable people from across Europe who are passionate about moving plastic recycling and resource efficiency forwards. I have personally been involved with the group since 2006 and the work of EPRO today is more important than ever before.”
The association is today present in almost all regions of North, Western and Southern Europe as well as in Canada and South Africa. In these countries, EPRO helps to optimise national opportunities through an international exchange of experience. A central concern is to make approved solutions internationally known and to adapt them to national conditions to promote a sustainable use of plastics. In working groups EPRO focuses on specific activity in the fields of Agricultural Plastics, EPBP (European PET Bottle Platform), Statistics and EuCertPlast (European Certification for Plastics Recyclers).
Peter Sundt, one of the founders of EPRO in 1997 and since 2005 the secretary general of EPRO explains: “In 1997, most countries in Europe had just established their EPR schemes for plastic packaging. Several organisations had a need to exchange and learn from similar systems. In 1997 the Austrian take back system invited to a first meeting in Vienna. Based on this very first meeting, EPRO was established with the aim to exchange experience and thus optimise national effectiveness through international co-operation. 20 years later, we are 20 members, from 17 countries, inclusive Canada and South Africa. The scope of EPRO has also been extended into all kinds of plastics from the agriculture sector, both packaging and non packaging plastics. Thanks also to EPRO, members have met their national recycling targets. Now, based on circular economy package, EPRO and it members prepare for higher targets, we are prepared and looking forward to meet new challenges.”