MEPs propose ways to boost plastics recycling

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Photo by European Parliament Draft resolution calls for incentives to collect marine litter at sea and new EU-wide standards

European members of Parliament (MEPs) have called for boosting plastics recycling in the region, saying biodegradable and compostable plastics were not enough to prevent plastic pollution.

During a European Parliament planetary session on 13 Sept, the MEPs said environmentally-friendly plastics should not be an excuse to continue the use of single-use plastics, and voted to strengthen the European Commission’s plans to address the issue of plastic wastes.

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 are among the proposals set out in the non-binding draft resolution, which was adopted on 13 Sept.

Oxo-degradable plastic, argue the MEPs, “does not properly biodegrade, is not compostable and adversely affects how conventional plastic is recycled.”

Additionally, the MEPs also supported a ban on micro-plastics in cosmetics and cleaning products by 2020.

The proposal also calls for the reduction of hazardous substances in plastics, to ensure that what is recycled is free from dangerous chemicals.

As part of the move, the MEPS have also called on the European Commission to propose “quality standards” in order to build confidence and boost the market for secondary plastics.

Member states have been advised to consider reducing the VAT on products containing recycled materials.

Among other measures suggested by the MEPs were extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes, deposit-refund schemes, and increased public awareness.

The European politicians have also noted the important role that fishermen could play, particularly by collecting plastic waste from the sea during their fishing activity and bringing it back to port.

The MEPs have suggested that the EC and EU member states should incentivise such activities by fishermen.

“My report is not a plea against plastic, but a plea for a circular plastic economy, in which we deal with plastic in a sustainable and responsible way,” Said Belgian MEP and member of the committee on environment, public health and food safety Mark Demesmaeker.

“We need to deliver tailor-made solutions, as there are no passe-partout solutions. And we must work together across the entire value chain,” the MEP added.

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