Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Potential of European Union’s Circularity Related Targets for Plastics

Anna Tenhunen-Lunkka (Corresponding Author), Tom Rommens, Ive Vanderreydt, Lars Mortensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
223 Downloads (Pure)


Current rising concerns about environmental and climate impacts in production, consumption and end-of-life of plastics have led to efforts to switch from linear to circular economy of plastics in Europe. Greenhouse gas emissions are likely to decrease with a transition to a circular system; however, a systematic and integrated perspective on plastics and the carbon cycle is currently missing in the debate on plastics.

In this study, a model to estimate greenhouse gas emissions of the current mostly linear plastics value chain of the EU in 2018 and a future scenario, 2025 model, were created. By 2025 if current policy targets are reached, the plastic packaging recycling rate should be 50%, PET-based drinking bottles should include 25% recycled content, 77% collection target for plastic bottles, 10 Mt recyclates should enter the markets, uptake of bio-based plastics is estimated by European bioplastics to increase from current 1 to 1.32% and landfilling will continue to decrease according to the current trend at 3.85%.

Total greenhouse gas emissions caused by the current plastics value chain are estimated at 208 million tonnes of CO2-eq. The 2025 model estimates that total plastics value chain emissions will be 182 Mt of CO2-eq. Reduction potential is approximately 26 Mt of CO2-eq or 13%.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-510
JournalCircular Economy and Sustainability
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Carbon footprint
  • Circular economy
  • Climate change
  • Climate change mitigation
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Plastic value chain
  • Plastics


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