EU Commission presents European plastics strategy

18.01.2018

The EU commission wants to reduce plastic wastes with a new strategy (photo: dpa Bildfunk)
The EU commission wants to reduce plastic wastes with a new strategy (photo: dpa Bildfunk)

Europeans produce 25M tonnes of plastic waste per year. The EU Commission has outlined in a first European strategy how to deal with plastics in the EU in the future.  “If we do not change the way in which we manufacture and use plastics, more plastic than fish will float in our oceans in 2050,"said first commission vice-president Frans Timmerman. “The only long-term solution is to reduce plastic waste by increasing recycling and reuse. With the EU strategy for plastics, we are pushing ahead with a new, more cycle-oriented business model. We need to invest in innovative new technologies that protect our citizens and our environment while keeping our industry competitive."

According to the new plans, from 2030 all plastic packaging on the EU market will be recyclable; the consumption of disposable plastics will be reduced and the deliberate use of microplastics will be restricted.

Simultaneously with the Commission’s communication on the monitoring framework for the recycling sector, Eurostat, the European Union's statistical office, has launched a new section on the recycling sector on its website, which provides the most up-to-date data for all indicators of the monitoring framework and visualisation tools.

Jyrki Katainen, vice-president of the Commission responsible for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness, added: "Our plastics strategy is laying the foundations for a new plastics recycling industry and mobilising investment in this development. This will help to reduce plastic waste on land, in the air and at sea, while opening up new opportunities for innovation, competitiveness and the creation of quality jobs. This is a great opportunity for European industry to take a global lead in new technologies and materials. Consumers will be able to make a conscious choice in the interests of the environment. It's a win-win situation for all sides."

Every year, Europeans produce 25M tonnes of plastic waste per year, but less than 30% is collected for recycling. Plastics account for 85% of the world's waste on beaches. Plastics end up even in the lungs and on the plates of the population. The effects of microplastics in air, water and food on our health are not yet known. Building on the Commission's work to date, the new EU-wide strategy on plastics is considered as a decisive step forward.

The strategy adopted for plastics is to change how products are designed, manufactured, used and recycled in the EU. The way in which plastics are currently produced, used and disposed of all too often undermines the economic benefits of a more cyclical economy and damages the environment. The aim is to protect the environment, while at the same time creating the basis for a new plastics industry that takes full account of the reuse, repair and recycling needs of design and manufacture and develops more sustainable materials.

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