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Resource Efficiency

Commission unveils Green Paper on proposals for cutting plastic waste


The European Commission has continued its work on improving waste management practices by unveiling a Green Paper on ‘a European Strategy on plastic waste in the Environment’. The paper aims to initiate a Europe-wide debate on how to make plastic products more sustainable throughout their life-cycle and decrease the impact of plastic waste on the environment. Read more…

Europeans continue to generate increasing annual quantities of plastic waste. This is not only visually unattractive, but also poses an environmental concern, particularly as the presence of microplastics is a danger to the marine environment. The environmental impact of plastic waste was recently highlighted in a film documentary, ‘Trashed’, narrated by the British actor, Jeremy Irons, which explores how mounting toxic waste is contaminating global landscapes and oceans. During a visit to Brussels, the actor met the European Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Poto─Źnik, to discuss the issue.

Announcing publication of the Green Paper at the ‘Zero Waste Conference’ at the European Parliament, Commissioner Poto─Źnik suggested that reducing plastic waste should be the first step towards the ‘zero waste’ goal. He said this was a major challenge in terms of environmental protection, but also a huge opportunity for resource efficiency.

The Green Paper is now open for public consultation. It contains various policy options, including phasing out or banning the landfilling of plastic waste, measures that already apply to other forms of waste. Pricing measures to reduce the volume of plastic bags in circulation and ‘deposit and return’ schemes are also being considered. Soft measures, including guidelines for producers and retailers, could also be adopted to further reduce packaging waste.

Find more info:

European Commissioner for Environment’s speech

Press release: “Vassiliou pledges support for Jeremy Irons campaign against plastic waste”

Press release: "Environment: What should we do about plastic waste? New Green Paper opens EU-wide reflection"

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