On February 5, 2018, news portal Euractiv initiated a special report “Packaging and the environment,” featuring several articles focused on the European Commission’s (EC) plastics strategy (FPF reported) and the negotiations on the waste legislation within the circular economy package (FPF reported).

In an article focused on assessing potential impacts on business, Virginia Janssens, managing director at the European Organisation for Packaging and the Environment (EUROPEN), argued that special care should be taken to ensure that no barriers to the internal market are getting introduced during the implementation of the circular economy package.

An article by editor Dave Keating addressed the question of whether the EU should “focus its efforts in increasing recycling, or in phasing out the use of plastics.” He concluded that “while interests may align when it comes to promoting plastics recycling, the idea of decreasing the use of plastics altogether is likely to continue to be resisted by the industry.” In another article, Keating discussed the EC’s plastics strategy in more detail, touching on the issues of product design, plastics tax, producer responsibility, and global coordination. Keating concluded that a successful implementation of the EC’s “plan for plastics” will “depend on whether the bold vision outlined in the plastics strategy is followed up by the next college of commissioners, set to take office next year.”

In a featured interview, the EC’s Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Jyrki Katainen said that “all plastic packaging should be designed to be recyclable by 2030.” To achieve this, an “EU-wide regulation that sets standards for plastic packages” is needed. Further, “the fundamentals of the plastics market” should be changed in order to make “the circular economy . . . as profitable as the current linear economy.” Currently, the EC considers various regulatory options, including taxation, that could help increase demand for recycled plastics. Katainen further emphasized that plastics waste “should not be seen as waste in its traditional meaning,” but rather “as a secondary raw material which has value.” However, because currently “all the existing plastic waste cannot be recycled because there are too many different types of plastics,” one of the EC’s aims is “to regulate the quality of plastic better than how we have done so far,” Katainen said.

Read more

Euractiv (February 5, 2018). “Packaging and the environment.

Virginia Janssens (February 6, 2018). “Circular economy? Not without the internal market!Euractiv

Dave Keating (February 5, 2018). “Life in plastic: Is it fantastic?Euractiv

Dave Keating (February 7, 2018). “A plan for plastics.Euractiv

Dave Keating (February 8, 2018). “Katainen: ‘We need to change the fundamentals of the plastics market.’Euractiv