Plastic is an important material in our economy. The issue is that too often the way plastics are produced, used and discarded causes huge environmental problems.
Every year, Europeans generate 25.8 million tonnes of plastic waste and less than 30% is collected for recycling. Moreover, 95% of the value of plastic packaging material is lost to the economy after a very short first-use cycle. The annual bill accounts for between €70 and €105 billion.
Furthermore, in Europe, between 150.000 and 500.000 tonnes of plastic litter end up in the oceans each year. On the other hand, it is estimated that every year in Europe between 75.000 and 300.000 tonnes of microplastics are released into the environment.
Action on plastics was identified as priority in the 2015 Circular Economy Action Plan, to help European businesses and consumers to use resources in a more sustainable way.
For all this reasons, the European Commission adopted the first-ever Europe-wide strategy on plastics [COM(2018) 28 final]. It is a project to create a smart, innovative and sustainable plastics industry, where design and production fully respects the needs of reuse, repair and recycling. Besides, it will helps cut EU’s greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on imported fossil fuels.
There is a list of future EU measures to implement the Strategy, which includes:
- Improving the economics and quality of plastics recycling.
- Curbing plastic waste and littering.
- Driving investment and innovation towards circular solutions.
- Harnessing global action.
Thanks to these plans, the consumption of single-use plastics will be reduced, all plastic packaging on the EU market will be recyclable by 2030 and the use of intentionally added microplastics will be restricted.