Anyone who takes plastic waste to the recycling center or disposes of it in the yellow bag is acting responsibly and supporting the plastics industry in keeping the materials in circulation. However, before manufacturers and processors can make new products from these plastics, the sorted and cleaned material must first be melted down and processed into plastic pellets. This secondary raw material is then available in the form of plastic pellets.
To prevent the loss of these plastic granules, also known as pellets, on company premises, during the loading and unloading of ship cargo or via wastewater, the European certification system Operation Clean Sweep (OCS) will come into force in February 2023. This will help companies combat pellet loss by providing a set of key recommendations and tools that go beyond the current standard environmental, safety and quality management controls.
The system will enable all Operation Clean Sweep (OCS) signatories and all other companies handling granules in the supply chain to assess and quantify their implementation of the OCS commitment. And it will establish common minimum requirements that will be regularly verified by accredited certification bodies. The program creates harmonized processes and procedures for controlling and documenting granule losses throughout the plastics supply chain. It also lists certified companies in a public online registry and reports annually on certification performance, including pellet loss estimates and performance indicators.
The plastics industry supports the European Commission’s goal of identifying measures to reduce the unintentional release of microplastics into the environment. The Operation Clean Sweep® program currently has more than 1,800 signatories, including companies, sites and associations. It creates harmonized processes and procedures to control and document granule losses throughout the plastics supply chain. The OCS Europe certification scheme was developed under the guidance and oversight of an advisory board composed of policy makers, certification bodies and industry representatives, whose recommendations were supplemented by a public consultation. Implementation of the system will be monitored and further refined in the future to ensure that inputs of plastic granules into our ecosystems are effectively reduced. All Plastics Europe members and an ever-growing number of processors and transporters have committed to demonstrate with transparent measures how they concretely prevent inputs of plastic granules into the environment and thus prevent pollution.
The launch of the certification system was announced by Plastics Europe, the association of plastics manufacturers in Europe, and EuPC, the association of European plastics processors.
According to Ingemar Bühler, general manager of Plastics Europe Germany, to make the project a success, it is essential for the entire value chain to pull together.
The rules and principles of the certification program, as well as the applicable requirements for companies’ facilities to be certified, are available at Operation Clean Sweep.
An initial list of approved certification bodies will be published on the same website in February 2023.
Images: We are Plastics