EU Politics & Legislation Recycling Waste Management

A European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy

The European Commission is supposed to discuss the future of plastics in Europe today and is expected to adopt a Directive proposal called "A European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy" soon. However ...

The purpose of the directive is to tackle plastic pollution by reducing single use plastics and promoting recycling. The talks were planned on May 23rd but were posponned to today May 28th.

Here’s a short summary of what “A European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy” proposes at this point in time:

  • All plastic packaging should be reusable or recyclable by 2030.
  • 90% of plastic bottles will be collected for recycling.
  • 50% of plastic waste should be recycled by 2040.
  • Caps should be attached to the plastic bottles and drink cartons
  • Reduce the use of microplastics especially in cosmetics and reduce the use of single use plastics
  • Ban plastic objects when there’s an alternative such as for plastic bags, cups, caps, straws
  • Producers should pay for the collection, transport and processing of plastic
  • More funds to research and innovation for degradable and compostable plastics

The legislative process is the following: the proposal should be approved by the Commission first and then by the European Parliament and Member States.

Closing Remarks

  • The commission is facing the wall and needs to take serious decisions and actions to curb the plastic waste problem. US are already moving through national states initiatives while China is waiting for a signal. The ball is on the Commission side. It’s time to act. However, there may be lots of resistance.
  • Lobby groups and lobbyists have great power over the European Commission and this may cause an obstacle to the common interest. Some European Commissioners have what we may call “a past or future conflict of interest”, for instance: Barroso is working and lobbying for Goldman Sachs now.
  • Another issue is the inefficient decision making structure inherent to the EU institutions: European, national, local, party, personal interests may sometime be conflictuous.
  • The situation in the member states is not identical: some countries are already collecting 85% of plastic bottles while in other countries most bottles end up on the landfill. In other words, some countries will not be able to reach the objectives.
  • Looking at other examples: the Commission was unable to tackle the obesity problem and when we look at GDPR … it’s a proper fiasco in the making.
  • Let’s see what it becomes.