Zero Waste Europe

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Seizing the opportunity: using plastic only when it makes sense

Published in 2017 by

Type of document: Policy and legislation

The policy paper looks at existing alternatives to fast-moving and short-lived plastic applications, and calls for the EU to introduce reduction targets for single-use plastics within the EU Strategy on Plastics in the Circular Economy.

Further information

Plastic pollution is out of control, with our use of plastic increasing from 15 million tonnes in 1964 to 311 million tonnes in 2014. Estimates suggest this will double again over the next 20 years, even though the harm caused by plastic pollution vastly outweighs the benefits of plastic to society. Zero Waste Europe calls on the EU to promote the existing alternatives to fast-moving and short-lived plastic applications, by: - Introducing an EU-wide target of a 20% reduction in plastic use by 2025, increasing to 50% by 2030. - Introducing a target of a 50% reduction for 10 single-use plastic items by 2025, increasing to 75% in 2030, and banning certain applications by 2025. Reduction targets for single-use plastics and short-lived plastic applications are achievable, can generate more local economic activity, and save money on the management of littering and low-value waste. Although welcome, initiatives to close the loop of materials by increasing collection rates and designing for recycling are not sufficient. Europe cannot recycle its way out of plastic pollution but, rather, must have a strategy to reduce plastic use by choosing reasonable alternatives.