The European Plastic Strategy and Horizon 2020 opportunities

Concerned about the importance of plastics as a material in our economy and by its negative impact on the environment, the European Commission adopted in January 2018 its European strategy for plastics in a circular economy. This strategy, as part of the broader 2015 EU action plan for the circular economy and of the 2008 Waste Framework Directive, will also contribute to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement and the EU’s industrial policy objectives.

Objectives

The objective identified by the Strategy s is to tackles two main challenges: developing a circular economy of plastic throughout the value chain and their entire life cycle and enhancing environment protection. The Commission aims at ensuring that, by 2030, all plastic packaging is reusable or recyclable in a cost effective manner.

What next?

In order to implement the strategy, the Commission is planning actions that will result in future EU measures.

The strategy is organised around 4 pillars that aim at improving the economics and quality of plastics recycling, curbing plastic waste and littering, driving investment and innovation towards circular solutions, encouraging global actions.

The Commission has already started taking a number of actions.

In order to improve the economics and quality of plastics recycling, new quality standards for plastic waste and recycled plastics have been introduced. The Commission has also planned to revise the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive and to issue new guidelines on separate collection and sorting of waste.

In its efforts to curb plastic waste and littering, the Commission proposed in January 2018 a revised directive on port reception facilities for the delivery of waste from ships. In May 2018, the Commission proposed a new directive to tackle marine litter, which targets the 10 single-use plastic products most often found on Europe’s beaches and seas, as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear. These proposed directives build on existing rules such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and complements other actions taken against marine pollution, such as under the Port Reception Facilities Directive.

The Commission is also seeking to impose restrictions on microplastics and oxo-degradable plastics via the REACH regulation.
On July 10th 2018, the European Parliament’s environment committee, under the guidance of MEP Demesmaeker Mark, included in its draft report a motion for a European parliament resolution to ban microplastics and oxo-degradable plastics. The European Parliament will debate on the strategy on the 12th of September and vote the 13th of September.

Finally, for driving investment and innovation towards circular solutions, the Commission plans to develop a Strategic Research Innovation Agenda on plastics to provide orientation for research and innovation funding beyond 2020. The Commission is also directing financial support for infrastructure and innovation EU funding instruments. 

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