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Plastics strategy

The EU’s plastics strategy aims to transform the way plastic products are designed, produced, used and recycled in the EU.

Plastics strategy image

Plastics are an important material in our economy and daily lives. However, they can have serious negative effects on the environment and human health.

The EU adopted a European strategy for plastics in January 2018. It is part of the EU’s circular economy action plan, and builds on existing measures to reduce plastic waste.

The plastics strategy is a key element of Europe’s transition towards a carbon neutral and circular economy. It will contribute to reaching the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Climate Agreement objectives and the EU’s industrial policy objectives.

Objectives

The plastics strategy aims to protect our environment and reduce marine litter, greenhouse gas emissions and our dependence on imported fossil fuels. It will support more sustainable and safer consumption and production patterns for plastics.

The plastics strategy also aims to transform the way plastic products are designed, produced, used and recycled in the EU.

Actions

Making recycling profitable for business

  • new rules on packaging to improve the recyclability of plastics and increase the demand for recycled plastic content
  • improving the separate collection of plastic waste
  • launching an EU-wide pledging campaign targeting industry and public authorities 

Curbing plastic waste

  • a Directive on single use plastic products and fishing gear
  • measures to restrict the use of microplastics in products and address and reduce the unintentional release of microplastics into the environment
  • measures on bio-based, biodegradable and compostable plastics
  • new rules on port reception facilities to tackle sea-based marine litter

Driving innovation and investment

  • scaling up support for innovation, with an additional €100 million to develop smarter and more recyclable plastics materials, to make recycling processes more efficient, and to trace and remove hazardous substances and contaminants from recycled plastics

Spurring global change  

  • working with our international partners to devise global solutions and develop international standards on plastics

For a full list of actions and their timeline, see Annex I of the plastics strategy.

Timeline

Previous and upcoming actions

  1. 11 March 2020
    European Commission adopts new circular economy action plan, including revised legislative proposals on waste
  2. 2 July 2019
    Directive on single-use plastics enters into force
  3. 28 May 2018
    Commission proposal for a Directive on single-use plastics
  4. 16 January 2018
    Commission adopts EU plastics strategy

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