European roadmap on plastics: between good intentions and bad solutions

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The European Commission published yesterday its roadmap on plastics. This publication opens up a necessary consultation period of stakeholders working on plastics, before the release of a “European Strategy on Plastics in a circular economy” by end of the year. The roadmad aims to inform about the Commission’s objectives on the issue of plastics. One of its priorities is to reduce (Priority 3 of the Roadmap) plastics’ leakage into the environment”.

Indeed, plastics account for up to 80% of marine litter. Plastic is therefore largely responsible for pollution in and around aquatic environments, in particular in the marine environment. Plastics are not only a visual pollution, they also weigh heavily on the budgets of the public authorities responsible for collecting them and impact significantly maritime and coastal economic activities. They have destructive impacts on marine species, the marine environment itself and all the services that this environment provides. Present in the food chain, they are also a threat to human health.

Surfrider welcomes the priority given in this road map to the fight against marine litter but is concerned about the solutions being favored and the lack of clarity and ambition in the measures put forward in the roadmap. The solutions envisaged by the Commission are insufficient to achieve the objectives the priority sets. By proposing to substitute plastics with other types of plastic that are equally polluting for the aquatic environments or by favoring recycling at the expense of prevention and reuse, Europe is on the wrong track.

Surfrider is more than ever, committed in bringing forward its demands on the circular economy file so that effective solutions are incorporated into the Commission’s strategy to stop the plastic invasion of aquatic environments, in particular:

  • Fight single-use plastics
  • Promote eco-design
  • Ban plastic microbeads in cleaning and care products at European level