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Environment

Plastics

The EU is taking action on plastics to tackle plastic pollution and marine litter, and to accelerate the transition to a circular plastics economy.

Overview

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 is taking action to tackle plastic pollution and marine litter to accelerate the transition to a circular and resource-efficient plastics economy. Specific rules and targets apply to certain areas, including single-use plastics, plastic packaging, microplastics, and soon bio-based, biodegradable and compostable plastics.

The EU’s plastics strategy, as part of the circular economy action plan, outlines specific actions in more detail.

Almost 26 million tonnes
of plastic waste is generated in Europe every year
Around 80%
of marine litter is plastic
87%
of Europeans are worried about the impact of plastic products on the environment

Objectives

EU policy on plastics aims to protect the environment and human health by reducing marine litter, greenhouse gas emissions and our dependence on imported fossil fuels.

The EU also aims to

  • transform the way plastic products are designed, produced, used and recycled in the EU
  • transition to a sustainable plastics economy
  • support more sustainable and safer consumption and production patterns for plastics
  • create new opportunities for innovation, competitiveness and jobs 
  • spur change and set an example at the global level

Specific policies

Global action on plastics

The EU is paving the way for a global agreement on plastics, to support the global shift towards a circular economy.

Microplastics

The EU aims to address the growing volume of microplastics in the environment.

Plastic bags

EU rules on plastic bags to address the unsustainable consumption and use of lightweight plastic carrier bags.

Plastic packaging

EU rules on packaging and packaging waste cover all materials, including plastics.

Single-use plastics

EU rules on single-use plastics (SUPs) to fight against marine litter and plastic pollution.

News

Publications

Factsheet | | Directorate-General for Environment

The goal? Reduce litter, help develop a circular economy and promote a sustainable future for everyone!