In a press release published on March 11, 2020, the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC) announced the publication of a report on packaging plastics in the circular economy. The report is described as showing “that fundamental and systemic reforms are required along the whole value chain, in order to slow and reverse damage to the environment, biodiversity and ultimately risks to human health.” EASAC is made up of the national science academies of EU member states and aims to provide advice to European policymakers. Michael Norton from EASAC said that “reducing the leakage of millions of tons of plastic waste into the marine, terrestrial and freshwater environments is incompatible with banking on continued growth in the use of plastics.”

The organization is urging European legislators to adopt legislation and incentives to accelerate the transition towards a circular economy, and it outlined seven specific recommendations in the report to do this:

  1. “Ban exports of plastic waste;
  2. Adopt a target of zero plastic waste to landfill, minimize consumption and one-way use;
  3. Extend producer responsibility;
  4. End misleading about bio-based alternatives;
  5. Advanced recycling and reprocessing technology;
  6. Limiting additives and types of resin to improve recyclability; and
  7. Price regulations and quota for recycled content.”

Specifically, the EASAC argues that switching to bio-based packaging materials cannot be seen as a solution that is justified through their environmental impact or resource use. Norton explained that such materials “can mislead consumers by creating a false image of sustainability and thereby risk prolonging today’s throw-away mentality.” These comments drew criticism from the industry association European Bioplastics (EUBP), which argues that there are already products on the market providing both biodegradability and durability with a significantly better footprint than their fossil fuel alternatives.

Read more

EASAC (March 11, 2020). “Plastic Crisis Requires Fundamental System Change.”

EUBP (March 18, 2020). “EUBP raises concerns over biased EASAC report on bio-based and biodegradable plastics.”


EASAC (March 11, 2020). “Packaging plastics in the circular economy.” (pdf)