Europe declares war on disposable plastic

Europe declares war on disposable plastic
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Plastic straws, cotton wads are among the first victims of the European Commission’s war on disposable plastic. The largest polluters will be outlawed.


Manufacturers have longer responsibility

The European Commission have announced a plan to lower carbon emissions by 3.4 million tons by 2030 and one of its targets is to ban disposable plastic. More than 80 % of waste in the ocean is apparently plastic for one-time use.

There will be an instant ban on small objects, like disposable cutlery, plates and straws, but also on balloon sticks for instance. Europe wants alternatives made from more sustainable sources, like bamboo or wood. 

It also wants to make manufacturers more responsible: whoever creates plastic items has to collaborate in awareness campaigns and pay for its waste management. They will also be forced to take back waste and process it itself.


Collect plastic bottles

Member states will be encouraged to collect (at least 90 %) of plastic bottles and it may introduce a deposit for plastic bottles. Retailers, fast food chains and manufacturers will have to make sure that fewer plastic cups and packages are used. 

Europe will also introduce new labeling, giving consumers an improved insight into what happens to packaging, how much plastic is involved and what its ecological footprint is. Everything has to ensure that Europe becomes a more circular economy, in this case when it comes to consmer plastic.


“Not only retailers’ responsibility”

EuroCommerce, the European federation of retailers, says it would like to back the European Commission’s intention and has already promised to lower its waste by 80 %. It also says it is a pioneer when it comes to packaging waste.

It also points out that a lot of the additional burden is placed on retailers. “Prolonged responsibility for the manufacturer cannot lead to supermarkets becoming a waste collection point. We can enable our customers to become more sustainable, but other companies (including many industries and the government) also have to do their share”, CEO Christian Verschueren said.

Retailers are the middle man between manufacturers and consumers, but they cannot be the sole responsible for collecting, recycling and cleaning waste. That is why EuroCommerce has its doubts about certain new measures: “We have to really think about the manufacturers’ prolonged responsibility, hygiene, safety and convenience.”