European nations make plastics pledge

2020-12-17 12:00:33

  A woman carries plastic bags at the Drottninggatan shopping street in central Stockholm, Sweden on Nov 10, 2020. [Photo/Agencies] Multiple European nations and companies have committed to slashing plastic waste as part of an initiative that aims to create a cross-border circular economy for the material during the next five years. Large nations, including Germany, France and Spain, are among the signatories of the European Plastics Pact, which on Wednesday released a roadmap aimed at reducing single-use plastic and increasing recycling capacity by 25 percent by 2025. Major food and drink companies, including Nestle and Unilever, have signed onto the pact, which also targets increasing the use of recycled plastic in packaging by 30 percent during the next half decade. The initiative is overseen by United Kingdom charity the Waste and Resources Action Program, otherwise known as WRAP, and to date has support from 15 governments, 82 businesses, and 43 institutions, non-profit organizations or associations. "The European Plastics Pact Roadmap is about action on one of the most pervasive environmental issues-plastic pollution," said Marcus Gover, chief executive of WRAP. The move follows a similar domestic initiative launched in Britain in November called the UK Plastics Pact. "It will mobilize signatories to act, and focus on key outcomes that deliver these ambitious targets," said Gover. "It will transform our use of plastics across Europe, just as we're doing in the UK through the first plastic pact." Plastic waste has become a hot topic in Europe. The issue of global plastic pollution reached a wide audience through the BBC documentary Blue Planet II. And media reports following China's 2018 ban on plastic scrap imports let Europeans know just how much of their waste went from their homes to other countries. Prior to the ban, a quarter of the scrap plastic sent from the UK to China originated in households, and Europe continues to export around 1.5 million tons of plastic scrap each year to other regions, according to official figures from the European Union. Much of this plastic winds up in nations without the capacity to process it correctly, leading to environmental contamination and the pollution of waterways. In Europe, around 40 percent of plastic is used for packaging, making manufactures of consumer goods some of the largest drivers of plastic production. "This roadmap gives a clear direction of travel for the European Plastic Pact," said Hanneke Faber, president of global foods and refreshment at Unilever. "One where we can find new ways across the value chain to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic packaging in line with our Unilever commitments." Nestle said it has committed to achieving 100 percent recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025. WRAP said the ambitions of the pact will only be achieved through creating a circular economy, where improved collection of plastic helps supply materials for reuse in packaging. Corporate signatories of the pact have committed to achieving an average of at least 30 percent recycled plastics by weight in their product and packaging ranges.