Recycling Netwerk is pleased with the outcome of the plenary vote on the Single-Use Plastics Directive. It is a great first step to tackle plastic pollution.
The European Parliament voted in favour of making producers of single-use plastics pay for the clean up costs for litter (Article 8). This will push them to start thinking seriously about prevention and better collecting schemes. It is more fair than the current situation, where the costs for clean up are a burden for the local communes, and hence the taxpayers.
Member States will have to achieve a 90% separate collection target for single-use plastic bottles by 2025 (Article 9). This target will help to reduce the amounts of plastic bottles that end up littered in the environment. The European Parliament send out a strong signal by adding a recycled content objective: by 2025, new plastic bottles should contain at least 35% recycled content. This will promote the market demand for high-quality material to recycle, and therefore stimulate producers to set up effective collection systems.
With this plenary vote, the European Parliament strengthened the Commission and ENVI ambition on consumption reduction by adding an EU wide target . By 2025, all European Member States should achieve a minimum of 25% consumption reduction of food containers and beverage cups (Article 4). Furthermore, the MEPs succeeded in adding two often littered items to the list of banned products: so-called oxo-degradable plastics and polystyrene food and beverage containers.
The European Parliament did rightly not endorse a series of amendments that would have weakened the Directive and its environmental impact. The amendments exempting biodegradable plastics, plastic-layered paper items were rightfully rejected. The European Parliament fortunately rejected the EPP-amendment to delay the implementation of the ban on certain single-use plastics for SMEs. This would have exempt 99% of businesses in the EU, and therefore neutralised the effect of the directive on the environment.
A few things could have been better. We are surprised that producers of carbonated drinks are granted a longer time period to live up to the product requirement for tethered caps. Caps are very often found on beaches, and sparkling drinks do make up a very large market share. Above all, there is no logical reason for this derogation. Single-use plastic plates and cutlery are exempted from the ban until 2023, also without any reason.
We hope that the trialogues in which Commission, Parliament and the Council will discuss the Directive will uphold the strengths of this Directive and continue on the path to effectively combat the plastic pollution. The first trialogue is scheduled to take place on November 6th.