The EU wants to create a European market for plastic waste, and implement measures to make all plastic packaging in Europe recyclable or reusable by 2030.
The EU is cleaning up its act. The first-ever Europe-wide strategy on plastics was adopted on Tuesday as part of the broader transition towards a more circular economy. The commission promised an additional €100 million for new technologies and innovations. It also announced restrictions on microplastics in cosmetics and personal care products. An EU-wide tax on plastics was also brought forward by Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger, but it was not included in the final package. Officials are reportedly researching how feasible the idea is.
European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans, said: “If we don’t change the way we produce and use plastics, there will be more plastics than fish in our oceans by 2050. We must stop plastics getting into our water, our food, and even our bodies. The only long-term solution is to reduce plastic waste by recycling and reusing more. This is a challenge that citizens, industry and governments must tackle together.”
Every year, Europeans generate 25 million tonnes of plastic waste, but less than 30% is collected for recycling. The European executive wants 55 per cent of all plastic to be recycled by 2030 and for its member states to reduce the use of plastic bags from 90 a person per year to 40 by 2026. However, the EU plastics sector generated €350 billion in sales in 2015 and employed 1.5 million people. A transitional plan must be implemented to transition away from this plastic-based economy without significant job or financial losses.
Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness, fended off criticism of the plan: “With our plastic strategy we are laying the foundations for a new circular plastics economy, and driving investment towards it. This will help to reduce plastic litter in land, air and sea while also bringing new opportunities for innovation, competitiveness and high-quality jobs. This is a great opportunity for European industry to develop global leadership in new technology and materials.”
Environmental organisations welcomed the EU plan as a good first step but highlighted the need for the 28 member states to increase their efforts. Delphine Lévi Alvarès, of the Rethink Plastic Alliance, said laws were needed “to drastically reduce the consumption of both single-use plastic items and packaging within this commission’s term”.
This post is also available in: FR (FR)