The European Commission steps forward to reduce plastic pollution

The European Commission has stepped forward today to address plastic pollution with the release of its Strategy on Plastics in the Circular Economy, says the Rethink Plastic alliance. [1]

The Strategy lays out the Commission’s approach to reduce the impact of plastic pollution, including a commitment to investigate the scope of a legislative initiative on single-use plastics. [2]

“The European Commission is showing willingness to tackle the plastic pollution crisis”, said Delphine Lévi Alvarès, coordinator of Rethink Plastic, “but it is now essential to bring forward ambitious legislation to drastically reduce the consumption of both single-use plastic items and packaging within this Commission’s term”.

On the other hand, while restrictions on polluting oxo-plastics [3] are mentioned, the Strategy includes no detail on how this would be done. “There is no place for oxo-plastics in a true circular economy. If the Commission is to be serious about halting the use of these damaging materials, a ban is urgently needed”, said Lévi Alvarès.

In addition, Rethink Plastic:

  • Welcomes the intention behind the objective that all plastics packaging on the EU market can be reused or recycled by 2030. However the absence of a clear target and the inclusion that recycling must be “cost-effective”, lessens the impact of the aim. This needs to be seen as a real opportunity to make all plastic packaging toxic free and environmentally sound.
  • Underlines that voluntary agreements and pledges expected to be developed by industry should in no way replace political action.
  • Welcomes measures to prevent the loss of pre-production plastic pellets, the second largest source of microplastic pollution, and notably the potential development of a certification scheme along the plastics supply chain to prevent pellet loss.
  • Welcomes the development of new measures to reduce the loss of fishing gear at sea, including possible recycling targets or deposit schemes to disincentivise dumping.

The Rethink Plastic alliance expects the European Commission to deliver, within its term, on the above commitments, and show true global leadership towards a future free from plastic pollution.

Carsten Wachholz of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) said:

Our seas are choking on plastic. We are close to a point of no return, meaning it’s time for governments and businesses to face reality.

“We welcome the initiative, but the European Commission must now come up with legally-binding measures to reduce the availability of specific single-use plastic items, make packaging reusable and easily recyclable, and restrict the use of microplastics.”



[1] The European Environmental Bureau is a member organisation of the Rethink Plastic campaign, an alliance of leading European NGOs working to ensure a future that is free from plastic pollution.


[3] Oxoplastics are supposedly biodegradable plastics, which in reality break down into small fragments and contribute to harmful microplastic pollution in the oceans and other ecosystems. Over 150 organisations called for an outright ban in 2017.

For more information:

Roberta Arbinolo, Communications Officer, Rethink Plastic alliance: | +32 (0) 491 14 31 97