Europe plots to bring down plastic waste

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 16 January 2018

MCS welcomes two new initiatives announced by the EU today to try and stem the tide of plastics entering our oceans. Firstly, it has published its Plastics Strategy, describing how the European Commission intends to improve plastic recycling and cut marine litter. Separately, new measures to improve how ports manage waste disposal have been proposed.

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© FEMA / Robert Kaufmann

MCS broadly welcomes the “Strategy on Plastic in the Circular Economy” for its intent and ambition, and says that the proposals put forward give it more bite than the recent “25 Year Plan” announced by the UK Prime Minister Theresa May.

Highlights of the strategy include a commitment to make all plastic packaging easily reusable or recyclable by 2030, introducing measures to increase the recycled content of products, greater use of eco design to increase recyclability of products, and the use of economic instruments such as deposit refund systems.

Dr Sue Kinsey, MCS Senior Pollution Policy Officer said:”The European Union is taking decisive action to reduce the amount of single-use plastic being wasted and getting into our oceans. Many of the demands that we, and partner organisations have called for, such as a fundamental rethink at the design stage of products, deposit refund schemes for bottles and containers and the banning of oxo-degradable plastics are all part of the strategy”

To tackle litter from ships, the EU has also today put forward proposals to reform the Port Reception Facilities Directive.

MCS is delighted that these will recommend a change to a 100% indirect fee for waste disposal from ships, with all fishing vessels included within the regulations so that they can land their own waste and any waste fished up in their nets under the same regime.

Dr Sue Kinsey, MCS Senior Pollution Policy Officer said: “This will really simplify the current system if it’s adopted EU wide, and will take away any incentive to dump waste at sea as there will be no cost difference in landing waste or not. The implementation of resulting laws will come after the projected date for the UK’s membership of the EU to have ended, but we strongly urge the UK government to adopt these proposals to help clean up our seas and beaches”.

The EU is also running a consultation now to try and shape the way forward on single use plastics and fishing litter, if you would like to input to this, click here

MCS is currently calling on UK governments to put a charge on single-use plastic throwaway items and demanding that big fast food chains stop giving out millions of plastic cups, stirrers, straws and cutlery but instead replace them with reusable or fully compostable alternatives.

Actions you can take

  1. Download the Great British Beach Clean Report 2017
  2. Help us stop the plastic tide

Did you know?…

Globally, plastic litter has reached every part of the world’s oceans

Since the carrier bag charge came in across the UK, the Great British Beach Clean has recorded 40% fewer bags on beaches

Litter has increased by 135% since 1994, with plastics increasing by a staggering 180%