MEPs propose ways to boost plastics recycling

Incentives to collect marine litter at sea, new EU-wide standards and definitions for biodegradability and compostability, and a complete EU ban on oxo-degradable plastic by 2020 are among the proposals set out in the non-binding draft resolution, adopted on Thursday with 597 votes to 15 and 25 abstentions.

Oxo-degradable plastic does not properly biodegrade, is not compostable and adversely affects how conventional plastic is recycled. MEPs also advocate a ban on micro-plastics in cosmetics and cleaning products by 2020.

Quality standard for recycled plastics
A stable internal market for secondary raw materials is needed to ensure the transition towards a circular economy, say MEPs. They call on the EU Commission to propose quality standards in order to build confidence and boost the market for secondary plastics, taking into account various grades of recycling which are compatible with different uses, while ensuring safety, for instance when recycled plastics are used in food containers.

Member states should also consider reducing the VAT on products containing recycled materials.

Extended producer responsibility
MEPs stress that there are different ways to achieve high rates of separate collection and recycling, for member states to choose from: extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes, deposit-refund schemes, and increased public awareness. However, they propose assessing if the existing EU-wide EPR on packaging should be extended to other types of plastic.

Fishing plastic litter
MEPs underline the important role that fishermen could play, in particular by collecting plastic waste from the sea during their fishing activity and bringing it back to port. The Commission and member states should incentivise this activity, they say.

Mark Demesmaeker (ECR, BE) said: “My report is not a plea against plastic, but a plea for a circular plastic economy, in which we deal with plastic in a sustainable and responsible way, so that we can stop its harmful effects and preserve the value in the chain. To succeed, we must use this strategy as a lever for circular production and consumption models. We need to deliver tailor-made solutions, as there are no passe-partout solutions. And we must work together across the entire value chain.”

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