Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Plastic Waste: a European strategy to protect the planet, defend our citizens and empower our industries

Plastic Waste: a European strategy to protect the planet, defend our citizens and empower our industries
Published on: 16/01/2018
The first-ever Europe-wide strategy on plastics, adopted today, is a part of the transition towards a more circular economy.
Image of plastic related items in a circular motion

The strategy will protect the environment from plastic pollution whilst fostering growth and innovation, turning a challenge into a positive agenda for the future of Europe. There is a strong business case for transforming the way products are designed, produced, used, and recycled in the EU and by taking the lead in this transition, we will create new investment opportunities and jobs. Under the new plans, all plastic packaging on the EU market will be recyclable by 2030, the consumption of single-use plastics will be reduced and the intentional use of microplastics will be restricted.

Every year, Europeans generate 25 million tonnes of plastic waste, but less than 30% is collected for recycling. Across the world, plastics make up 85% of beach litter. And plastics are even reaching citizens’ lungs and dinner tables, with microplastics in air, water and food having an unknown impact on their health. Building on the Commission’s past work, the new EU-wide strategy on plastics will tackle the issue head on.

Today's plastic strategy will transform the way products are designed, produced, used, and recycled in the EU. Too often the way plastics are currently produced, used and discarded fail to capture the economic benefits of a more circular approach. It harms the environment. The goal is to protect the environment whilst at the same time lay foundations to a new plastic economy, where the design and production fully respect reuse, repair and recycling needs and more sustainable materials are developed.

Europe is best placed to lead this transition. This approach will bring new opportunities for innovation, competitiveness and job creation. With the plastic strategy, the Commission has adopted a monitoring framework, composed of a set of 10 key indicators which cover each phase of the cycle, which will measure progress towards the transition to a circular economy at EU and national level.

Under the new strategy, the European Union will

  • make recycling profitable for business
  • curb plastic waste
  • stop littering at sea
  • drive investment and innovation
  • spur change across the world

Next Steps

The new Directive on port reception facilities proposed today will now go to the European Parliament and Council for adoption.

Subject to Better Regulation requirements, the Commission will present the proposal on single-use plastics later in 2018.

Stakeholders have until 12 February 2018 to contribute to the ongoing public consultation.

The Commission will launch the work on the revision of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive and prepare guidelines on separate collection and sorting of waste to be issued in 2019.

For the full list of measures and their timeline, see the annex to the plastics strategy here.

More information