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Home > Legislation & Strategy > European Legislation and Strategy > Green Paper on Plastics

Green Paper on Plastics

In 2013 a Green Paper on a European Strategy of Plastic Waste in the Environment was widely circulated for comments. Member States, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and all other interested parties were invited to submit their views on the suggestions set out in this Green Paper.

The following text is taken from the document.

“The purpose of this Green Paper is to launch a broad reflection on possible responses to the public policy challenges posed by plastic waste which are at present not specifically addressed in EU waste legislation. The follow-up to the Green Paper will be an integral part of the wider review of the waste legislation that will be completed in 2014. This review will look at the existing targets for waste recovery and landfill as well as an ex-post evaluation of five directives covering various waste streams.

The inherent characteristics of plastic create specific challenges for waste management.

Plastic is relatively cheap and versatile with many industrial applications, leading to exponential growth over the past century; a trend that is set to continue. Secondly, plastic is a very durable material which outlives the products made of it. As a result, the generation of plastic waste is growing worldwide. The durability of plastic also means that uncontrolled disposal is problematic as plastic can persist in the environment for a very long time. The need to continue efforts to reduce the incidence and impacts of plastic in the marine environment was particularly highlighted at the Rio+20 Summit.

There are not only challenges, but also opportunities arising from better management of plastic waste. Although plastic is a fully recyclable material, only a small fraction of plastic waste is at present recycled. Enhanced recycling would contribute to the aims of the Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe adopted in 2011 and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and imports of raw materials and fossil fuels.

Appropriately designed measures to recycle plastic can also improve competitiveness and create new economic activities and jobs. This Green Paper will help reassess the environmental and human health risk of plastic in products when they become waste, addressing their environmentally sound design, both functionally and chemically, and open a reflection process on how to tackle the problem of uncontrolled disposal of plastic waste and marine litter. It should also help move forward the reflection on internalization of life-cycle impacts, from raw material extraction to the end of life phase, into the costs of plastic products.”

 GREEN PAPER On a European Strategy on Plastic Waste in the Environment

 Views and Suggestions from EPRO on the Green Paper on a European Strategy of Plastic Waste in the Environment


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