Single-use plastics items serve many important functions in terms of health, hygiene, preservation and life extension of food products. Their ban and reduction by European authorities and consequently national authorities and brand owners & retailers, carried out quickly and superficially, are now already negatively affecting the environment. Decisions to switch away from plastics are made without considering the environmental impact of the substitute material chosen or whether there is an adequate collection and treatment infrastructure in place. The disconnection between reality and policy is growing every day.
Moreover, single-use plastics are very difficult to define and might be different from one country to another due to cultural differences and habits of consumption.
Some environmental scandals are popping up in countries in Europe due to the pushed material shift as alternatives to plastics are by far less environmentally friendly and use more water and produce far more CO2/energy. The overall environmental impact of the populistic directive is not so positive as anticipated in 2019.
However, now in January 2020, the EU Green Deal is exactly asking for the opposite direction to be taken when it comes to material consumption in Europe. How can we reconcile both objectives?
Alexandre Dangis, EuPC Managing Director shares: “We hope soon to get the opportunity to explain to EU Commissioner Sinkevičius what it is currently happening in the real economy and the risks of opting out of plastics without a true assessment of the consequences for health, environment and jobs.”
Statements such as “we want to ban all plastics packaging” will certainly mean further and very seriously damage to our planet in terms of CO2 consumption and putting at risk health issues and food safety requirements for the EU consumers. We would expect the EU Commission to ensure instead a full implementation by Member States without derogations of a plastics landfill ban in Europe. This would mean taking the lead in waste management. However, also here we still see very few activities and many conservative actions in a fragmented Europe when it comes to waste management plans.
Will the Green Deal fund provide funding for the loss of employment in Europe and the closing down of plastics converting plants? Once more all measures taken so far penalize only the plastic products and not the behaviour and this goes against the further development of a circular economy model.