From 1st January, the European Union will ban all non-recyclable plastic waste shipped to developing countries.
Most of plastic sent to the Global South is not usually properly treated. Most of this waste end up either in the ocean, landfill, or being incinerated due to the fact that these nations usually lack the capacity to sustainably treat the waste.
With these rules in place, only ‘clean plastic waste’ that is recyclable can be exported to non-OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. In addition, stricter measures have been adopted on the export of plastic waste from the EU to OECD countries and intra-EU shipments of plastic waste.
Every year, Europeans generate 25 million tonnes of plastic waste, but less than a third (30 per cent) of it is being recycled. And across the world, plastics make up around 85 per cent of beach litter.
Virginijus Sinkevičius, the Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries
These new rules send a clear message that in the EU we are taking responsibility for the waste we generate. This is an important milestone in fighting plastic pollution, transitioning to a circular economy, and achieving the aims of the European Green Deal.Virginijus Sinkevičius
The move to restrict this type of waste exports contributes to the EU plastics strategy, which aims to reduce plastic usage and encourage better sorting and recycling across the continent.
According to the new plastic strategy, all plastic packaging in the EU will be recyclable by 2030. Also, the consumption of single-use plastics will be reduced. Lastly, the intentional use of microplastics will be restricted.
The UK will no longer be part of the EU from 1 January, meaning it won’t be subject to this change in policy.
However, in January 2020, the Environment Bill – which contained similar policies towards plastic – was submitted to Parliament.
Among other measures to help the environment, the bill proposed legislation which protects poorer countries from becoming a dumping ground for the UK’s plastic waste.
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