European Interest

MEPs back EU plastic ban

Flickr/Mike Carney/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The European Commission’s proposal to reduce single-use plastics has been welcomed by members of the European Parliament, though some groups called for additional measures.

The Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group, for instance, noted that this is a “crucial pillar” of the overall waste reduction efforts, but lacks specific targets.

“We are happy that products for which perfectly sustainable alternatives exist, like straws, cutlery, plastic plates etc, will be forbidden,” said S&D vice-president for sustainability, Kathleen Van Brempt. “However, there are many other plastic products we dispose of after use that need our attention. Labelling them as ‘harmful’ is not enough. We should have clear targets for specific single-use plastics instead of a vague and general minimum target.”

S&D MEP Simona Bonafè, who was the rapporteur of the Waste Package in the European Parliament, added: “On our side, as legislators, we must push for waste legislation encouraging reuse and recycling, coupled with incentives for innovation and responsibility. We are persuaded that the transition to a cleaner industry can be turned into opportunities for new businesses and jobs”.

As for the Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) Group in the European Parliament, they cautiously welcomed the Commission’s proposal.

Frédérique Ries MEP, recently appointed EP rapporteur on this important legislation said: “Whilst it is important we do not fall prey to plastic phobia, we do need drastic measures to incentivise the responsible use of plastics, in particular where alternatives already exist, as is the case with cotton bud sticks, plastic cutlery and plastic straws.

“As rapporteur for the European Parliament, I look forward to working with all relevant industrial sectors, NGOs, fellow MEPs and EU Governments to enhance these proposals,” he added.

The European Green Party also backed the Commission’s proposal. Speaking ahead of the presentation of the draft directive, European Green Party co-chairs Monica Frassoni and Reinhard Bütikofer released the following statement: “We welcome the European Commission’s plan to severely restrict single-use plastics and reduce plastic pollution at sea… The move to cut plastics is likely to receive strong backing in the European Parliament and we urge member countries to follow suit and back the proposals.  But, executive action alone is not enough.”

They also called for a “grassroots citizen’s movement” to drive the change.  “We believe the support is there, but we just need to organise effectively.”

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