Environment

EU outlines strategy to wipe out plastic waste

A new EU strategy aims to establish a new circular economy around plastics
A new EU strategy aims to establish a new circular economy around plastics
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A new EU strategy aims to establish a new circular economy around plastics
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A new EU strategy aims to establish a new circular economy around plastics

Putting the brakes on our plastic waste is going to be anything but straightforward. Europe alone generates 25 million tonnes of plastic waste each year and recycles less than 30 percent of it. Eliminating single-use plastics would be a huge step forward, and that's the direction taken by the European Union, which is launching a new strategy whereby only recyclable versions will be in use by 2030.

"If we don't change the way we produce and use plastics, there will be more plastics than fish in our oceans by 2050," says first vice-president of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans. "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."

The EU's Plastics Strategy aims to cut out non-recyclable plastics by 2030, while cutting down on single-use plastics and restricting microplastics, all by establishing a new circular economy around the material. The strategy lays out a few key steps to achieve this. The first is to introduce new rules on packaging that improve their recyclability and increase the demand for recycled plastics, thereby making recycling profitable for businesses.

Another is to build on legislation already adopted by certain EU countries that outlaws plastic bags, focusing also on other single-use plastics like straws and coffee cup lids. It will also introduce new rules to tackle sea litter, encouraging port authorities to ensure that waste produced on ships is brought back to land and disposed of correctly.

Additionally, €100 million (US$121 million) will be invested in the development of advanced recyclable materials, ideas that make recycling processes more efficient and efforts to remove harmful contaminants in recycled plastics. Beyond that, the EU plans to work with partners around the globe to drive international standards.

Some of these measures, such as the rules for port authorities, are set to be adopted right away while others, such as the crackdown on single-use plastics, will be presented to European parliament later in the year.

"With our plastic strategy we are laying the foundations for a new circular plastics economy, and driving investment towards it," says vice-president of the European Commission, Jyrki Katainen "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. Consumers are empowered to make conscious choices in favor of the environment. This is true win-win."

Source: European Commission

6 comments
amazed W1
Just hope the EU approach will be less blundering than its approach to some other matters. We all have to accept that plastic bags of various types have hugely prevented food waste, and may be the only effective way of ensuring that the projected measures to prevent such waste can be implemented. We need either a biodegradable alternative to, e.g. a freezer foodstorage bag or a material that can be burned safely and is derived from only a renewable organic base.
aki009
It seems to me that increasing the demand for recycled plastics would allow the industry to figure out the details on its own, and find a lowest cost and lowest regulatory burden solution to the problem. E.g. focus on categories of products where the recycled content has to be at some minimum level, and perhaps ratchet the levels up over time. Naturally I expect such obviousness to not be possible in any larger government bureaucracy, as it would require far too few bureaucrats to implement.
EZ
I don't think it should be up to the bureaucrats to do the cleaning or even arrange for it to be done, even though one of those might be necessary. I think the makers of the bottles or the sellers of the plastic bottles need to collect a surcharge per bottle that would go into a fund that would then pay for the cleanup. Especially, considering that they makers have the technology to make different kinds of plastic, some of which are environmentally friendly. It's just cheaper to use oil.
MD
Ensure plastics which enter the environment have (or develop) negative buoyancy therefore accompanying decomposed whale poo and krill on the ocean floor and over timebecoming another fossil layer, the AnthropoCarbonaceous. Sequestering carbon never got easier, just throw it in the river. Nature will do the rest.
Aross
Interesting comments but not one good solution. Lets face it plastic containers were invented, not for the benefit of the consumer but for the benefit of business. To me all plastics associated with food should be eliminated. Meat can be rapped in butchers paper and stored in the freezer without any ill effect for a reasonable length of time if needed. It is made from a renewable source and can easily be recycled or burned to generate electricity. Bring back glass for bottles and tins and jars. They can be reused many times and again easily recycled. Finally if plastics are the only option for something then it should only be of a type that can easily be recycled.
wal62
Only one way to stop this pollution...STOP MAKING PLASTICS. Do it now, outlaw, strictly legislate it. Ever see the little pieces of plastics in shipped products going to your fav store! Horrible, stupid.