EU: looking to end plastic waste

With the new measures, the European Union expects to go from recycling less than 30% of waste to 60% by 2030

EU: looking to end plastic waste

The European Commission unveiled a new strategy to limit the use and impact of plastics on the environment. This initiative focuses on single-use plastics, such as containers and bottles, aiming that, by 2030, all containers of this material can be recycled or reused. The first vice-president of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, recalled that "every second 700 kilos of plastic disappear in our oceans. If we do not change the way we produce and use plastics, in 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea. Therefore, we have to prevent plastics from reaching water and food, and even our organism.

This decision is focused on the objective of moving to a circular economy after China decided to prohibit importing foreign garbage and recyclable material. It should be remembered that Europe used to export half of its plastic waste and, of this half, 85% was destined to China. 

For this reason, Brussels has decided to design a strategy to protect the environment, encourage growth and innovation, lay the foundations of a new plastic economy, and produce more sustainable products. For this, it was established within the objectives that "all plastic containers of the EU market shall be recyclable by 2030, the consumption of single use plastics shall be reduced, and the intentional use of microplastics restricted". The vice-president of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen assured that "the new strategy on plastic will be the bases of a new economy of the plastic; that will guide the investment in the same direction and this will help us reduce plastic waste on land, sea, and air, and will offer new opportunities for innovation, competitiveness, and employment ".

What is the goal?

With these measures, the European Union expects to recycle 60% of solid waste in 2030 and 65% in 2035. In addition, they seek to limit 10% of municipal waste destined for landfills. The EU also wants 55% of all plastics to be recycled by 2030, and to reduce the use of bags per person from 90 per year to 40 by 2026. It should be noted that of the 25 million tons of plastic waste produced by Europeans per year, less than 30% is collected for recycling, 39% incinerated to produce energy and the remaining 31% in the landfill, according to figures from the European Parliament and the Commission.

How will they do it?

This strategy seeks to improve the traceability of the chemical elements contained in plastic products to facilitate their recycling. To achieve this, restrictions will be imposed on the intentional addition of microplastics to the products and the consumption of single-use plastics will be limited, motivating the demand for recycled plastic.

The European Commission will pay special attention to microplastics (between 0.1 and 5,000 microns) because they are "a big problem not only for the marine ecosystem but also for the health of citizens". It should be remembered that these particles are generated with the use of a product, such as the wheels of a car, or intentionally added, like in cosmetics.

Similarly, they have announced a financial package of 100 million euros to finance projects of circular economy and waste and thus to "develop smarter and recyclable plastic materials and make recycling processes more efficient". Likewise, facilities destined for recycling will be multiplied, more information will be sought to improve the separation of waste and selective collection will become mandatory. Easy access to tap water on the streets will also be promoted to reduce the consumption of bottled water. In addition, it was established that each member state must face the elimination rates of plastic bags, either through "charges or encumbrances, with national reduction objectives, with mandatory measures or agreements with economic sectors or through direct prohibition, as long as it is in line with EU legislation. "


Latin American Post | Dayana Martínez
Copy edited by Laura Rocha Rueda