Under the Plastics Strategy, the European Commission took a drastic action, in late May, to resolve the issue of the accumulated plastic pollution across European seas by proposing new EU-wide rules to target the 10 single-use plastic products most often found on Europe's beaches and seas, as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear.

Now the Environment Committee has called for a number of measures that go beyond the Commission’s original proposals, including:

  • Recognition that biodegradable and compostable plastics do not prevent plastic waste in oceans and thus are not an acceptable alternative.
  • A complete ban on oxo-degradable plastics (a source of microplastic pollution) by 2020. Although supposedly biodegradable, oxo-degradable plastics in fact break down into small fragments and contribute to harmful microplastic pollution in the oceans.
  • A ban on microplastics in cosmetics, personal care, detergents and cleaning products by 2020, and minimum requirements to tackle other sources of microplastics.
  • Reduction of hazardous substances in plastics, to ensure that what is recycled is free from dangerous chemicals.
  • Financial gains from taxing plastics should go towards preventing plastic waste generation.

Despite these welcome measures, the Environment Committee failed to address pollution from industrially-produced plastic pellets. These are melted down to make everyday plastic, and the volume found in waterways and on the coast demonstrates a significant degree of spillage. The Committee also excluded stronger economic incentives to reduce plastic production and consumption,

...commented Seas at Risk NGO.

In September, the European Parliament will hold a plenary vote on the Environment Committee’s response to the Commission’s proposal.