Skip to main content


As part of its new Circular Economy Action Plan adopted in 2020, the European Commission has proposed and revised a series of legislative texts. Two of them were released on November 30, 2022.

The first text concerns packaging and packaging waste in order to initiate a new circular approach with the aim of reducing their environmental impact. The second concerns biobased, biodegradable and compostable plastics and the harmonization of the European approach to them. The third text – a proposal for a regulation on environmental claims – initially promised for 2020 has been postponed to 2023.

Reduce and reuse packaging to limit pollution

The European Union has taken an important first step in the fight against plastic pollution with the adoption of the Single Use Plastics Directive in 2019. It provides for a ban on certain single-use plastic products such as single-use plates, cutlery and straws.

Today, it calls for a circular approach to packaging in order to reduce its environmental impact by revising the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive. From now on, all packaging placed on the market by 2030 must be reusable or recyclable. Surfrider takes the opportunity of this revision of the text to ask for the introduction of more ambitious targets for the reduction of single-use packaging (-50% by 2030) and for reuse (50% of packaging put on the market is reusable by 2030).

This is also an opportunity to reduce plastic pollution in the catering sector where many solutions exist. Surfrider Europe calls for 100% of food and beverage packaging in the HORECA sector to be reusable by 2030, as well as 75% of food and beverage packaging for take-away and delivery to be reusable by 2030.

Bioplastics: false solution, real pollution

Facts behind the “bio” designation of bioplastics

Biobased and biodegradable plastics pose many problems. Find out more here.

The European Commission proposes a harmonized approach to biobased, biodegradable and compostable plastics. It issues a series of recommendations on the use of biobased products, their sourcing and labeling, and the use of biodegradable and compostable plastics.

This text highlights that priority should go to the top of the waste hierarchy, to the reduction of material use and to circularity. It also establishes for the first time that products likely to be disposed of in the environment, including those covered by the directive on single-use plastics, cannot be presented or labelled as biodegradable. However, clear measures to ensure compliance with these principles and to more strictly regulate the use of these plastics are lacking.

Surfrider reminds the European institutions that some of the proposed guidelines are likely to perpetuate a linear economic model. They distance the European Union from its objective of zero pollution. These plastics are in no way a solution to plastic pollution of the ocean and they should not be favored over zero waste or reuse. 

ENVIRONMENTAL ALLEGATIONS: withdrawal of the initiative from the circular economy package text in November

“Environmental claims” consist of suggesting or giving the impression that a good or service is environmentally friendly, or less harmful than that of competitors. This may be due to its composition, method of manufacture or end of life, or due to the reduction in energy consumption or pollution that can be expected from its use. When these claims are false or cannot be verified, we speak of “greenwashing“. This phenomenon has multiplied today on the ocean subjects, in front of the increased concerns of the citizens on the subject, so much so that Surfrider speaks about blue claims or Oceanwashing.

A proposal for a Directive came out in the spring and proposes to ban vague claims such as “biodegradable” or “biobased”. The European Commission had promised a second initiative on environmental claims, also scheduled for November 30. This proposal is finally announced for early 2023, despite an initial commitment for a publication in 2020. Surfrider regrets this delay and calls on the institutions to bring this text forward as soon as possible. This is necessary to better regulate the use of ecological arguments on the ocean made by manufacturers and brands. Surfrider also calls on the European institutions to go further by banning a list of misleading terminology. “Edible for marine life”, “ocean plastic”, “biodegradable in the marine environment” to name a few. They lead citizens to believe that a product would have less impact on the ocean. Some other blue claims such as “recyclable, reusable or plastic-free materials”, if effective, are to be welcomed, but they remain, in practice, often diverted and undeclared.

To learn more, read our briefing on the subject of Oceanwashing.

Although these texts do not directly mention the ocean, they are directly linked to the objectives of preserving and reducing pollution in this ecosystem and can lead to significant progress at EU level in terms of environmental and ocean protection. These are necessary and expected in order to put in place effective long-term solutions in Europe.