EU Green Paper suggests radical plans for plastics


European Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik has revealed a range of measures that the EU will consider as a result of the Green Paper on Plastic Waste.

Speaking at a conference on ‘The role of plastic waste in a circular economy’ in Brussels, the Environment Commissioner revealed that most respondents to the consultation on the Green Paper said that the EU should stop funding landfilling and incineration and should start using public money to upgrade recycling infrastructure in Europe.


In addition, the EU should consider according to respondents:

  • Improvements to waste sorting and collection in all Member States, preferably through separate collection combined with ‘pay-as-you-throw’ schemes
  • A landfill ban for plastic and strict export controls
  • Improved information to consumers on recycling plastic and deposit and return schemes
  • Promotion of mono-materials and improved plastic design to encourage recyclability
  • Restrictions in use of additives
  • New rules on eco-design should be introduced
  • Market-based instruments need to be developed to address the waste burden posed by short-lived and single use plastic products
  • Planned obsolescence should be tackled.
  • On biodegradeable plastics and bio-based plastics, a majority said that these should not be promoted generally but rather on a case-by-case basis.


Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: “This consultation shows that in the EU, we have started to move in the right direction.

“There is a very high level of convergence between the answers we received and the more general policy objectives we are already pursuing on European waste policy.

“Concrete preparatory work on diverting plastics from landfill and on increasing plastic recycling targets is already going on in the upcoming review of waste targets.

“Other issues will be addressed as part of the regulatory fitness check of our waste stream directives, particularly the packaging waste directives. We should also adopt very soon a specific legislative proposal concerning lightweight plastic bags.

“Targets are still a useful driver for investment in better waste management, but the real driver leading us towards a circular economy is the economic rationale for treating our waste as a resource. Just implementing existing waste legislation properly would create 400,000 jobs in the EU. The benefits in terms of materials savings and reduction of greenhouse emissions are also significant.

“But the potential of moving towards a truly circular economy – where materials are used again and again instead of going on a one-way trip – is huge.

“I believe that with the Green Paper on plastic waste in the environment, this debate has gained momentum and that it will help us move another step closer to a circular economy.”