EU announces plastic waste vision

The European Commission has announced that all plastic packaging on the continent will be recyclable by 2030 as part of a transition towards a more circular economy.


Under the plans, the consumption of single-use plastics will also be reduced and the intentional use of microplastics restricted, with the commission saying there is a “strong business case” for doing so.

It is hoped that transforming the way products are designed, produced, used and recycled will create new jobs and investment opportunities in the process.

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

“We are driving a new and more circular business model, and need to invest in innovative new technologies that keep our citizens and environment safe, while keeping our industry competitive.”

Europeans generate 25 million tonnes of plastic waste every year, with less than 30% collected for recycling.

To address this, the EU said new rules will be introduced to improve the recyclability of packaging, while recycling facilities will be scaled up, saving approximately €100 per tonne of plastic collected.

It was also announced that legislation to reduce plastic bag use will be expanded to other single-use plastics and fishing gear, and that labels for biodegradable and compostable plastics will be improved.

In addition, support for innovation will increase, with an extra €100m put aside for the development of smarter and more recyclable materials, while new measures will ensure waste generated on ships is not left in the sea.

“The only long-term solution is to reduce plastic waste by recycling and reusing more,” Timmermans continued. “This is a challenge that citizens, industry and governments must tackle together."

Stakeholders have until 12 February 2018 to contribute to an ongoing public consultation regarding the scope of the proposed EU-wide rules.


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