MEPs propose ways to boost plastics recycling

Plastic Pollution UN Environment 2018

UNEP/Cyril Villemain Local people from Watamu, Kenya, work with Local Ocean Conservation to pick up plastic on the beach each Friday.

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.

They advocate creating a genuine single market for recycled plastics, and propose measures to tackle marine litter.

Incentives to collect marine litter at sea, new EU-wide standards and definitions for biodegradability and compostability, and a complete EU ban on oxo-degradable plastic by 2020 are among the proposals set out in the non-binding draft resolution, adopted on Thursday with 597 votes to 15 and 25 abstentions.

Oxo-degradable plastic does not properly biodegrade, is not compostable and adversely affects how conventional plastic is recycled.

MEPs also advocate a ban on micro-plastics in cosmetics and cleaning products by 2020.

Quality standard for recycled plastics

A stable internal market for secondary raw materials is needed to ensure the transition towards a circular economy, say MEPs. They call on the EU Commission to propose quality standards in order to build confidence and boost the market for secondary plastics, taking into account various grades of recycling which are compatible with different uses, while ensuring safety, for instance when recycled plastics are used in food containers.

Member states should also consider reducing the VAT on products containing recycled materials.

Extended producer responsibility

MEPs stress that there are different ways to achieve high rates of separate collection and recycling, for member states to choose from: extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes, deposit-refund schemes, and increased public awareness. However, they propose assessing if the existing EU-wide EPR on packaging should be extended to other types of plastic.

Fishing plastic litter

MEPs underline the important role that fishermen could play, in particular by collecting plastic waste from the sea during their fishing activity and bringing it back to port. The Commission and member states should incentivise this activity, they say.

Quote

Mark Demesmaeker (ECR, BE) said: “My report is not a plea against plastic, but a plea for a circular plastic economy, in which we deal with plastic in a sustainable and responsible way, so that we can stop its harmful effects and preserve the value in the chain. To succeed, we must use this strategy as a lever for circular production and consumption models. We need to deliver tailor-made solutions, as there are no passe-partout solutions. And we must work together across the entire value chain.”

Background

According to the European Commission, 87% of EU citizens say they are concerned by the environmental impact of plastics. Global annual production of plastics reached 322 million tonnes in 2015, and is expected to double over the next 20 years. Only 30% of plastic waste is collected for recycling, while only 6% of plastic placed on the market is made from recycled materials. Plastic accounts for 85 % of beach litter and over 80 % of marine litter.

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