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DID YOU KNOW?
The EU has developed its strategy for design and reusability of plastics (COM 2018/28 final) to help achieve its target of only having reusable and recyclable plastic products in the EU by 2030.
EDC News: EU’s Fight against Plastic
Analysis (2016) of the waste management in the EU showed that 25% of municipal waste generated in the EU is landfill and only 47% of the waste is recycled or composted (Municipal waste by waste operations (table: env_wasmun)). Landfill waste has proven to be the least favourable option in waste management as the majority of objects are made from materials difficult to decompose and large quantities end up in the world’s oceans. For instance, in 2016, 27.1 million tonnes of plastic waste was collected, of which 27.3% was landfill waste. Evidence showed that 150 million tonnes of plastics has amassed in oceans around the world, where between 4.6-12.7 million tonnes is added yearly. If this continues it is expected that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish.
The European Commission has recognised the need for implementing sustainable actions to counteract the increase and misuse of plastic, which causes serious economic and environmental threats to the EU. It has addressed this problem by developing a Strategy for Plastic in a Circular Economy with the objective of ensuring that subsequent plastic products produced in the EU are designed sustainably to enhance the rate of reuse and recycling. Furthermore, as single use plastic constitutes to approximately ½ of the marine litter, the European Commission has submitted a proposal (COM 2018/340 final) aimed at the prevention and reduction of plastic marine litter; focusing on single use plastic items and fishing gear containing plastic.
The implementation of these strategies will encourage change in the learnt behaviour of individuals in their use and disposal of plastic by encouraging reuse and moving away from single use plastic objects; encouraging the plastic industry to use eco-friendly and biodegradable materials; and reduce the need for imported fossil fuel and cut CO2 emissions. The realisation of these strategies depends on having an appropriate infrastructure in place, e.g. sorting and recycling equipment, technologies, creating viable markets for recycled and renewable plastics, and clearer obligations for national authorities. Once the infrastructure is in place the EU will see additional benefits of increase in job opportunities and competitiveness in EU industry.
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