Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) proposed new incentives to collect marine litter at sea, new EU-wide standards and definitions for biodegradability and compostability, and a complete EU ban on oxo-degradable plastic by 2020. This non-binding draft resolution was adopted on September 13 with 597 votes to 15 and 25 abstentions.
Oxo-degradable plastic does not properly biodegrade, is not compostable and negatively affects how conventional plastic is recycled. MEPs also advocated a ban on micro-plastics in cosmetics and cleaning products by 2020.
What is more, an internal market for secondary raw materials is needed to ensure the transition towards a circular economy. MEPs also called the EU Commission to propose quality standards in order to build confidence and boost the market for secondary plastics, taking into account various grades of recycling which are compatible with different uses, while ensuring safety.
Member states should also consider reducing the VAT on products containing recycled materials.
In addition, MEPs highlighted that there are different ways to achieve high rates of separate collection and recycling, for member states to choose from, such as:
- Extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes;
- Deposit-refund schemes;
- Increased public awareness.
Moreover, MEPs stressed the important role that fishermen could play, especially by collecting plastic waste from the sea during their fishing activity and bringing it back to port. The Commission and member states should incentivise this activity, they noted.
According to the European Commission, 87% of EU citizens say they are concerned by the environmental impact of plastics. Global annual production of plastics reached 322 million tonnes in 2015, and is expected to double over the next 20 years.
Only 30% of plastic waste is collected for recycling, while only 6% of plastic placed on the market is made from recycled materials. Plastic amounts for 85% of beach litter and more than 80% of marine litter.