The Commission’s Green Paper on plastic waste in the environment, published on 7 March 2013, has attracted great interest with over 270 replies from public authorities, NGOs, industry and other stakeholders.
Plastic waste has started to attract increased public attention, notably due to a growing number of reports about marine litter. An estimated amount of more than 100.000 t, mostly so-called micro-plastics, is floating in the world’s oceans. This is a great concern in particular since plastic and POPs concentrated on the surface of micro-plastics could enter the food chain. The potential environmental effects of this phenomenon are only beginning to be fully understood.
Despite these concerns, apart from the general provisions in the EU Waste Framework Directive, no specific EU legislation addresses plastic waste in a strategic way. In the light of the EU’s policy objective of achieving a resource efficient recycling society it is hard to accept that in Europe we still landfill nearly 50% of plastic waste. On average nearly 80% of plastic in the marine environment is estimated to be coming from land.
Stepping up plastic waste prevention, preparation for re-use, recycling and separate plastic waste collection, as well as improving plastic design and plastic product design are all essential contributors to help achieve ‘zero plastic to landfill’ and move to a circular economy. Plastic products and plastic waste are two sides of the same coin and recycling already starts in the product design phase. Designers need to be involved in the reflection on the entire life cycle of products including the waste phase. All actors designing, producing, using and disposing of plastic products and handling plastic waste will have to contribute to a less wasteful economy.
The conference brings together high-level experts from very different angles who will help to get a more complete picture on how to adjust the present resource inefficient management of plastic waste and advance towards a more circular economy. The conference will be a platform for lively debates and the sharing of insights into the best possible way forward to address plastic and plastic waste in the future.
Please note that presentations are available on the event page.