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European Commission proposes new laws to tackle the most found plastic waste items on European beaches

26 SEPTEMBER 2018

Source: OceanWise Media team

Themes: Circular Economy Policy / Plastics Strategy / Single-use Plastics

Cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws and stirrers made with plastics, food containers and cups for beverages such as those made from expanded polystyrene, and plastic bottles are some of the 10 most found plastic waste items on Europe’s beaches. Those 10 items account for 43% of total marine litter.

In May 2018, the European Commission proposed new laws to tackle this huge problem and also fishing gear, which represents an additional 27% of all marine litter. The new Single Use Plastics Directive will be an integral part of Plastics Strategy and an important element of the Circular Economy Action Plan.

The Commission’s proposal foresees several measures for extended producer responsibility. Member States are advised to establish schemes for nine types of single-use plastic products, namely food containers, cups for beverages, Balloons, packets and wrappers, beverage containers and their caps and lids, tobacco product filters, wet wipes (sanitary items), lightweight plastic carrier bags and fishing gear.

This means that producers of these products shall cover the costs of the collection of waste and its subsequent transport and treatment, including the costs to clean up litter and the costs of the awareness raising measures.

In the specific case of producers of fishing gear containing plastic, Member States should ensure that they cover the costs of the collection of waste fishing gear that has been delivered to adequate port reception facilities and its subsequent transport and treatment.

Also, the proposed measures include a ban on single use cotton buds and also on single use cutlery, plates, straws and stirrers made with plastic, to be replaced with sustainable alternatives.

The industry will also receive incentives to develop less polluting alternatives to those products.

Implementation of this proposal aims to reduce littering by more than half for the ten single use plastic items, avoiding environmental damage which would otherwise amount to €22 billion by 2030.

According to the European Commission, replacing the most common single use plastic items with alternatives which have higher added value can create around 30,000 local jobs. Better-designed and multiple-use products can help to develop innovative business models and systems, such as re-use schemes.

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OCEANWISE

  • OceanWise deals with marine litter in a circular economy perspective. It is focused exclusively on expanded polystyrene (EPS ) products and applications with a likelihood to become marine litter. OceanWise wants to approach this issue with a wide-view angle, by putting together a multi-sectoral platform to include Governmental bodies responsible for marine environment management, Industry and other stakeholders, waste management authorities, designers, circular economy modellers, I&D specialists in participatory processes, and end-users. EPS is short for expanded polystyrene, commonly known as plastic foams, and called styrofoam in the U.S.

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