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ClientEarth Communications

24th October 2018

Wildlife & habitats

European lawmakers take historic stand against throwaway plastics

The European Parliament has advanced the push to protect people and the environment from plastic pollution.

Decision-makers from the European Council must now ensure the directive is made into law with the same level of ambition, a coalition of environmental organisations say.

ClientEarth is part of the Rethink Plastic alliance, a coalition of organisations working on ways to reduce plastic pollution. The alliance welcomed the Parliament’s overwhelming majority that has voted to strengthen the Commission’s plan to cut pollution from single-use plastic items.

The Parliament voted to ban some of the most problematic throwaway products, such as expanded polystyrene food containers, and to ensure producers are held accountable for the costs of single-use plastic pollution.

For fishing gear, one of the largest contributors to marine litter, this directive mandates extended responsibility schemes and opens up the possibility of member states implementing deposit return schemes.

ClientEarth lawyer Tatiana Lujan said: “It is fantastic to see all corners of the Parliament take such a decisive action which will tackle throwaway plastic waste. It is particularly heartening to see the European Parliament adopt a definition of single-use plastics that favours an economics of waste prevention and reuse.

“This means that a plastic item will be deemed single-use if it was not designed to be returned to the producer for a refill, or re-used for the same purpose for which it was conceived.
“By imposing extraordinary measures on disposable items, this should incentivise a shift in business models away from the throwaway culture so harmful to the environment and our health.”

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Justine Maillot, EU Affairs Project Officer at Surfrider Foundation Europe, on behalf of Rethink Plastic said: “The European Parliament has made history by voting to reduce single-use plastics and slash plastic pollution in our rivers and ocean. Citizens across Europe want to see an end to plastic pollution. It’s now up to national governments to keep the ambition high, and resist corporate pressure to continue a throwaway culture.”

A leaked letter recently exposed how major plastic polluters such as Coca-Cola, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Danone are lobbying national environment ministers to water down the directive.
Representatives of EU national governments are expected to meet later this month to agree on their joint position, and the three-way negotiations between governments, the European Parliament, and the European Commission could then start as soon as early November.