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EU plastic regulation puts manufacturers under obligation

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According to a proposal by the EU Commission, ten disposable plastic products are to be withdrawn from the European market.

The European Commission has proposed new rules to reduce plastic waste. According to the press release, the Commission is targeting ten disposable plastic products that are most commonly found on Europe's beaches. The initiative implements the plan announced in the European plastics strategy to take legislative action against plastic waste. The Commission hopes that the proposed directive will bring environmental and economic benefits, for example:

  • Avoidance of 3.4 mn tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions by 2030
  • Avoidance of environmental damage, which would amount to €22 bn by 2030
  • Savings for consumers estimated 6.5 bn euros

Obligations for manufacturers

The organic food industry is not strongly affected. The commission wants to take cotton swabs, cutlery, plates, drinking straws, coffee stirrers and plastic balloon sticks off the market. For them, there are good environmentally friendly alternatives. Disposable beverage containers containing plastic will only approved if their lids and closures are attached to them.

Producers will be demanded to cover the costs of waste management, environmental clean-up and measures to raise awareness. This applies to producers of the following plastic products:

  • Containers
  • Bags
  • Film packaging for food (e.g. for chips and sweets)
  • Beverage bottles and cups
  • Tobacco products with filters (e.g. cigarette butts)
  • Moist wipes
  • Balloons
  • Light plastic carrier bags

Packages of hygiene pads, wipes and balloons must clearly and standardly indicate how to dispose of them, what the negative environmental impacts of the product are and that the product contains plastic.

Competitive advantage for companies

According to the Commission, uniform rules for the entire EU market will "create a springboard for European companies that will bring economies size advantages and better competitiveness in the booming global market for sustainable products". By introducing reuse systems (e.g. deposit systems), companies could ensure a reliable supply of high-quality materials. In other cases, the incentive to look for more sustainable solutions could give companies a technological advantage over global competitors.

The Commission's proposals will now be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council for adoption. The Commission calls on the other institutions to prioritise this dossier and to present tangible results to Europeans before the European elections in May 2019.

Campaign starting on 5th of June

On the occasion of World Environment Day on 5 June, the Commission will launch an EU-wide campaign to raise consumer awareness of the importance of their choices and everyone's behaviour when it comes to combating plastic pollution.


Further information:

EU single-use plastics proposal

EU single-use plastics factsheet

EU plastics strategy brochure





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