Adoption of the First European Strategy for Plastics

The European Commission has adopted the first strategy for Plastics that aims to contribute towards Circular Economy.

This Strategy forms part of the Circular Economy Package, which appearance goes back to 2015, when it was first adopted. Its objective is to achieve a European Circular Economy where resources are used in a more sustainable way. Even before that, in December 2014, there was a willingness from the Commission to present a legislative proposal on waste but finally decided to expand the proposal to the whole economy and propose a new package the following year. Since the Circular Economy Package was adopted there have been initiatives to expand the scope of this package.

The Plastics Strategy has been released by a team of First Vice-President Frans Timmermans (responsible for sustainable development), Vice-President Jyrki Katainen (responsible for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness) and Commissioners Karmenu Vella and Elżbieta Bieńkowska, who were previously also working on the Circular Economy Package.

The Strategy focuses on four priority areas regarding how plastics are being designed, produced, used and recycled: improve the economics and quality of plastics recycling, curb plastic waste and littering, drive investments and innovation towards circular solutions and harness global action. Overall, this Strategy aims to reach a full recycling plastic packaging on the EU market by 2030, reduce consumption of single-use plastics and  restrict the intentional use of microplastics. In Europe, around 25 million tonnes of plastic waste are produced yearly, from which only a 30% is collected.

However, as it was expected from the first draft released of the Strategy, a plastic tax is not included. Although Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger proposed a plastic tax which would be beneficial for finances after brexit ant to make garbage more expensive, the Commission only briefly mentioned it by saying that they will ‘explore the feasibility of introducing measures of a fiscal nature at the EU level’.

Measures to be adopted in the coming years, as established on the European Strategy for Plastics, include:

-adoption of the proposed new Directive on port reception facilities from the European Parliament and Council;

-revision of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive;

-legislative initiative on single-use plastics;

-follow-up to COM (2018) 32 “Communication on the implementation of the
circular economy package: options to address the interface between chemical,
product and waste legislation”;

-development of harmonised rules on defining and labelling compostable and
biodegradable plastics;

-evaluation of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive.

Stakeholders are invited to contribute by participating on the ongoing public consultation until 12 February 2018.

Please find here the Press Release of the European Commission.

Please find here news about this issue.