The European Parliament’s Environment Committee today voted to strengthen the European Commission’s Plastics Strategy, which aims to reduce plastic pollution and marine litter.

The Environment Committee called for a number of measures that go beyond the Commission’s original proposals, including:

  • Recognition that biodegradable and compostable plastics do not prevent plastic waste in oceans and thus are not an acceptable alternative.
  • A complete ban on oxo-degradable plastics (a source of microplastic pollution) by 2020. Although supposedly biodegradable, oxo-degradable plastics in fact break down into small fragments and contribute to harmful microplastic pollution in the oceans.
  • A ban on microplastics in cosmetics, personal care, detergents and cleaning products by 2020, and minimum requirements to tackle other sources of microplastics.
  • Reduction of hazardous substances in plastics, to ensure that what is recycled is free from dangerous chemicals.
  • Financial gains from taxing plastics should go towards preventing plastic waste generation.

Despite these welcome measures, the Environment Committee failed to address pollution from industrially-produced plastic pellets. These are melted down to make everyday plastic, and the volume found in waterways and on the coast demonstrates a significant degree of spillage. The Committee also excluded stronger economic incentives to reduce plastic production and consumption. As a member of the Rethink Plastic Alliance, Seas At Risk will continue to advocate for stronger measures on this type of marine pollution.

In September, the European Parliament will hold a plenary vote on the Environment Committee’s response to the Commission’s proposal.

Read entire Rethink Plastic press release.