All plastic packaging on the EU market must be recyclable by 2030 as part of the transition towards a more circular economy.
The European Union has adopted the first-ever Europe-wide strategy on plastics. Under the new plans, all plastic packaging on the EU market will have to be recyclable by 2030. The consumption of single-use plastics like coffee cups will be phased out to reduce plastic pollution, and the use of microplastics will be restricted.
“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,” European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said in a statement.
The new plastics strategy will transform the way products are designed, produced, used and recycled in the EU, and ultimately create new investment opportunities and jobs.
“With our plastic strategy we are laying the foundations for a new circular plastics economy, and driving investment towards it,” added European Commission Vice-President 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.”
Europeans generate 25 million tonnes of plastic waste every year, but less than 30 per cent is collected for recycling. Plastics now make up 85 per cent of beach litter worldwide, and are posing a major health risk to animals and humans alike with microplastics found in the air, water and food.
The goal of the new plastic strategy is to protect the environment while at the same time lay the foundations to a new plastic economy, where design and production conform to reuse, repair and recycling needs and more sustainable materials are developed.
More specifically, the new strategy aims to develop new rules on packaging that will make recycling more profitable for business. It will also curb plastic waste via legislation that targets single-use plastics, microplastics in products, and sea-based marine litter. An additional 100 million euros will be earmarked for financing the development of more recyclable plastics materials and making recycling processes more efficient.
The plastic strategy is an opportunity for European industry to develop global leadership in new technology and materials, while empowering consumers to make conscious choices in favour of the environment.
“This is a true win-win,” said Katainen.
Image credit: Rhys A. via Flickr