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EU Sets Out to Tackle Plastic Waste, Spur Innovation with New Strategy

The European Union recently announced the launch of a far-reaching strategy aiming to deal with plastic waste in efforts to safeguard the  environment while seeking to spur innovation in this direction.

The EU Plastics Strategy, the first-ever Europe-wide action to address the issue of plastic waste, aims to prompt member states towards a more circular economy while motivating businesses to redesign products and recycle.

The ambitious new scheme aims by 2030 for all plastic packaging on the EU market to be recyclable, to reduce the consumption of single-use plastics and to replace the use of microplastics.

“If we don’t change the way we produce and use plastics, there will be more plastics than fish in our oceans by 2050. We must stop plastics getting into our water, our food, and even our bodies,” said Frans Timmermans, European Commission first vice-president responsible for sustainable development.

“The only long-term solution is to reduce plastic waste by recycling and reusing more. This is a challenge that citizens, industry and governments must tackle together. With the EU Plastics Strategy we are also driving a new and more circular business model. We need to invest in innovative new technologies that keep our citizens and our environment safe whilst keeping our industry competitive,” he added.

Every year, Europeans generate 25 million tons of plastic waste of which only 30 percent is collected for recycling. Worldwide, plastic waste accounts for 85 percent of all litter found on beaches.

The EU’s plastics scheme foresees making recycling profitable for business; restricting plastic waste; the stop of littering at sea; stimulating investment and innovation; and encouraging environmental awareness and action towards change.

Greece recently harmonized a relevant law with EU legislation whereby consumers are now (since January 1) obliged to pay an extra 8 cents per plastic bag. The goal is to reduce the number of bags per consumer to 90 per year per person in the next two years, and to 40 by 2025. Greece holds the top spot in Europe in terms of per capita use of plastic bag exceeding the EU average of 175 per person.

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