Europe goes for a firm approach to plastic waste

13 September 2018

“Our seas and oceans are turning into a plastic soup. Of the almost 26 million tonnes of plastic waste produced in the EU each year, we recycle barely 30%. We have to change course.” MEP Mark Demesmaeker practised what he preaches and drew up a series of recommendations for a firm approach to plastic waste. The European Parliament approved the report with an overwhelming majority.

Circular plastics economy

According to MEP Mark Demesmaeker, the way in which we produce and use plastic today is unsustainable. “For years, we in Europe have outsourced our plastic waste problem for the sake of convenience. We cannot allow ourselves to do so any longer. I hope that the recent Chinese ban on the import of plastic waste will offer the momentum to opt resolutely for a circular plastics economy,” says Mark Demesmaeker.

Keeping euros in the chain

Europe must therefore recycle more, and do so in a more effective manner. “We recycle far too little, with the result that we miss out on huge opportunities to reduce CO2 emissions. We are literally letting euros leak out of our economy instead of keeping the value in the chain. This is why I am advocating the high-priority implementation of the new European waste rules. Furthermore, by 2030 at the latest, it must be possible for all plastic packaging to be recycled or re-used cost-effectively,” urges MEP Mark Demesmaeker.

Preventing waste

He also points to the importance of prevention. “Recycling alone is not sufficient. Preventing plastic waste remains crucial. We need smart measures on disposable plastic, a ban or limitation of microplastics and a carefully thought out use of bio-plastics. But in order to really turn the tide, all parties involved will have to shoulder their responsibility,” Mark Demesmaeker concludes.

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