Plastic producers could market single-use items as reusable to dodge EU ban

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Brussels, 10/10/2018

Producers could simply market items like throwaway plastic cups as reusable, under changes to a draft EU laws on single-use plastics tabled today in the European Parliament, the Rethink Plastic alliance of NGOs has warned.

The European Parliament’s environment committee voted on a proposal that would introduce new rules on plastics including bans on certain single-use plastic products responsible for marine pollution, and require European governments to set reduction targets for others.

Campaigners are concerned that the committee’s proposed definition of ‘single-use’ plastic items is too narrow, and could lead to producers easily avoiding bans, and would allow them to ignore reduction targets and other measures to reduce plastic pollution. [1]

Speaking on behalf of the Rethink Plastic alliance, Greenpeace EU chemicals policy director Kevin Stairs​ said: “This loophole is a serious oversight by the Parliament and goes against common sense. Everyone knows a throwaway plastic cup or straw when they see one – companies simply marketing them as reusable won’t stop pollution of our rivers and oceans. A turtle choked on relabelled plastic is still a dead turtle.”

The environment committee added very lightweight plastic bags, polystyrene food and drink containers, and products made of ‘oxo-degradable’ plastic [2] to the list of banned items originally proposed by the European Commission. The proposed rules would also require plastic bottles to be made with 35% recycled plastic and introduce collection and recycling targets for fishing gear, a key contributor to marine pollution.

The European Parliament will vote in plenary in the week of 22 October on the environment committee’s proposals.

Yesterday, the global Break Free From Plastic movement published the results of 239 clean-ups and brand audits in 42 countries on six continents, revealing the extent of plastic pollution. The companies responsible for the most plastic pollution were Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé. Full details at bit.ly/brandauditreport2018.

On the same day, a 260,000-strong petition calling for the legislation to hold companies responsible for plastic pollution was delivered to members of the European Parliament’s environment committee by Rethink Plastic, Break Free From Plastic and Sum of Us.

ENDS

NOTES:

[1] The definition supported by the European Parliament’s environment committee concerns any plastic product “designed or placed on the market to be used only once over a short time span before it is discarded”.

[2] Oxo-degradable plastics are supposedly biodegradable plastics, which in reality break down into small fragments and contribute to harmful microplastic pollution in the oceans and other ecosystems.

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé found to be worst plastic polluters worldwide in global cleanups and brand audits

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Manila, Philippines, 9/10/2018

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé were the most frequent companies identified in 239 cleanups and brand audits spanning 42 countries and six continents, the Break Free From Plastic movement announced today. Over 187,000 pieces of plastic trash were audited, identifying thousands of brands whose packaging relies on the single-use plastics that pollute our oceans and waterways globally. Coca-Cola was the top polluter in the global audit, with Coke-branded plastic pollution found in 40 of the 42 participating countries. This brand audit effort is the most comprehensive snapshot of the worst plastic polluting companies around the world.

“These brand audits offer undeniable proof of the role that corporations play in perpetuating the global plastic pollution crisis,” said Global Coordinator of Break Free From Plastic Von Hernandez. “By continuing to churn out problematic and unrecyclable throwaway plastic packaging for their products, these companies are guilty of trashing the planet on a massive scale. It’s time they own up and stop shifting the blame to citizens for their wasteful and polluting products.”

The audits, led by Break Free From Plastic member organizations[1], found that Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé, Danone, Mondelez International, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Perfetti van Melle, Mars Incorporated, and Colgate-Palmolive were the most frequent multinational brands collected in cleanups, in that order. This ranking of multinational companies included only brands that were found in at least ten of the 42 participating countries. Overall, polystyrene, which is not recyclable in most locations, was the most common type of plastic found, followed closely by PET, a material used in bottles, containers, and other packaging.

The top polluters in Asia, according to the analysis, were Coca-Cola, Perfetti van Melle, and Mondelez International brands. These brands accounted for 30 percent of all branded plastic pollution counted by volunteers across Asia. This year’s brand audits throughout Asia build upon a week-long cleanup and audit at the Philippines’ Freedom Island in 2017, which found Nestlé and Unilever to be the top polluters.

“We pay the price for multinational companies’ reliance on cheap throwaway plastic,” said Greenpeace Southeast Asia – Philippines Campaigner Abigail Aguilar. “We are the ones forced to clean up their plastic pollution in our streets and waterways. In the Philippines, we can clean entire beaches and the next day they are just as polluted with plastics. Through brand audits, we can name some of the worst polluters and demand that they stop producing plastic to begin with.”

In North and South America, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé brands were the top polluters identified, accounting for 64 and 70 percent of all the branded plastic pollution, respectively.

“In Latin America, brand audits put responsibility on the companies that produce useless plastics and the governments that allow corporations to place the burden, from extraction to disposal, in mostly vulnerable and poor communities,” said GAIA Coordinator for Latin America Magdalena Donoso. “BFFP members in Latin America are exposing this crisis  and promoting zero waste strategies in connection with our communities.”

In Europe, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and Nestlé brands were again the top identified polluters, accounting for 45 percent of the plastic pollution found in the audits there. In Australia, 7-Eleven, Coca-Cola, and McDonald’s brands were the top polluters identified, accounting for 82 percent of the plastic pollution found. And finally, in Africa, ASAS Group, Coca-Cola, and Procter & Gamble brands were the top brands collected, accounting for 74 percent of the plastic pollution there.

“These brand audits are putting responsibility back where it belongs, with the corporations producing endless amounts of plastics that end up in the Indian Ocean,” said Griffins Ochieng, Programmes Coordinator for the Centre for Environment Justice and Development in Kenya. “We held cleanups and brand audits in two locations in Kenya to identify the worst corporate polluters in the region and hold them accountable. It is more urgent than ever, for the sake of communities that rely on the ocean for their livelihoods, health and well-being, to break free from plastic.

Break Free From Plastic is calling on corporations reduce their use of single-use plastic, redesign delivery systems to minimize or eliminate packaging, and take responsibility for the plastic pollution they are pumping into already strained waste management systems and the environment.

While the brand audits do not provide a complete picture of companies’ plastic pollution footprints, they are the best indication to date of the worst plastic polluters globally. The Break Free From Plastic movement is urging companies to end their reliance on single-use plastics, prioritizing innovation and alternative delivery systems for products.

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NOTES:

For the entire set of results, please find Break Free From Plastic’s brand audit report here: https://www.breakfreefromplastic.org/globalbrandauditreport2018/

[1] Break Free From Plastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in September 2016, nearly 1,300 groups from across the world have joined the movement to demand massive reductions in single-use plastics and to push for lasting solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. These organizations share the common values of environmental protection and social justice, which guide their work at the community level and represent a global, unified vision. www.breakfreefromplastic.org

Photo and video:

For photo and video from brand audits around the world, click here: https://media.greenpeace.org/collection/27MZIFJWQQ88P

European Parliament says biodegradable plastics will not solve plastic pollution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Strasbourg, 13/9/2018

Biodegradable and compostable plastics do not prevent plastic pollution and should not be an excuse to keep consuming single-use plastics, the European Parliament recognised in a vote today. The Parliament voted to strengthen the European Commission’s plans to slash plastic pollution, under the European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy launched in January 2018.

Speaking on behalf of the Rethink Plastic alliance, ECOS programme manager Ioana Popescu said: “Biodegradable or not, plastics are clogging our land and oceans, threatening the health of humans and animals. The Parliament today has acknowledged that biodegradable plastics are not a silver bullet to our plastic pollution crisis, but merely a distraction from real solutions. Policies that dramatically cut our plastic footprint need to be urgently implemented.”

The European Parliament called for a number of additional measures that go beyond the Commission’s original proposals, including:

  • A ban on microplastics in cosmetics, personal care products, detergents and cleaning products by 2020, and concrete measures to tackle other sources of microplastics;
  • A complete ban on oxo-degradable plastics – a source of microplastic pollution – by 2020; [1]
  • The reduction of hazardous substances in plastics, to ensure that what is recycled is free from dangerous chemicals; [2]
  • That the priority should be to prevent plastic waste from being produced in the first place, followed by reuse and recycling, with landfill or incineration of plastic waste as a last resort.

However, the European Parliament failed to back measures to tackle widespread pollution from plastic pellets, which are melted down to make everyday plastic items. It also failed to support stronger economic incentives to reduce plastic production and consumption. [3]

The European Commission has already begun to implement some measures announced in its Plastics Strategy, notably a proposal on legislation to reduce marine pollution from single-use plastics and fishing gear, currently being discussed both in the European Parliament and by national  governments.

ENDS

NOTES:

[1] Oxo-degradable plastics are supposedly biodegradable plastics, which in reality break down into small fragments and contribute to harmful microplastic pollution in the oceans and other ecosystems.

[2] The European Parliament also reminded the Commission of the commitment, in the EU’s 7th Environmental Action Programme, to develop non-toxic material cycles. This is fundamental to ensure that the circular economy is a success for the environment. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32013D1386

[3] Effective economic incentives should include Extended Producer Responsibility fees for all plastic and plastic containing items, not only for packaging as is in current law.

Plastic crisis: taxes are vital to cut pollution, but EU plans fall short, new study finds

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Brussels, 4/9/2018

Taxing plastics can help lead to a responsible use of the material by triggering the necessary reduction of both production and consumption, a new report finds. However, a plastic tax will only work if designed to influence producer and consumer behaviour, rather than raising revenue.

The study “The price is right … or is it? The case for taxing plastic”, carried out by the New Economic Foundation for Zero Waste Europe and partners organisations from the Rethink Plastic alliance, reveals how the European Commission’s proposal to tax unrecycled plastic packaging will only incentivise Member States to increase recycling, without actually tackling the underlying problem of unsustainable production and consumption of plastic [1].

Speaking on behalf of Rethink Plastic, Ariadna Rodrigo, Sustainable Products Campaigner at Zero Waste Europe, said: “We cannot recycle our way out of plastic pollution. Given the scale and urgency of the problem, a set of economic incentives to cut the production of new plastic while promoting reuse and recycling is urgently needed to stop plastic pollution at source and accelerate the move towards a circular economy.”

The report also highlights how:

  • Environmental taxation and other economic incentives have a strong role to play in fighting plastic pollution and accelerating the transition to a circular economy.

  • While in the short term a new plastic tax could generate significant revenue, relying on this in the long term could lead to perverse consequences, such as political opposition to ambitious action to reduce the use of plastic.

  • While a single tax will not by itself trigger the breadth of responses needed from producers and consumers, a set of measures targeting different stages of the production and supply chain of plastics would be a key step towards the reduction of its use

  • In some cases, banning a certain use of plastics is more effective taxing it.

Ariadna Rodrigo continued: “Plastics have entered our food and water and are causing devastating impacts on our environment, yet the generation of plastic waste continues to escalate. Taxes are a key tool to help solve the plastic pollution problem.”

Rethink Plastic calls on the EU must broaden the scope of the proposed tax on non-recycled plastic packaging waste in the Multiannual Financial Framework, in order to ensure a focus on plastic prevention all along the supply chain.

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NOTES:

[1] The report analyses five different types of plastic tax, their advantages and disadvantages. Whereas taxes on production are less likely to impact consumer behaviour, they are in theory easier to administer. On the other hand, taxes on consumption help to change both individual behaviour and shape the public debate, but may do little to change the production methods of the industry.

EU Parliament backs microplastic bans to tackle plastic pollution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Brussels, 10/07/2018

The European Parliament’s environment committee today voted to strengthen the European Commission’s overall plans to cut plastic pollution, under the so-called Plastics Strategy.

On behalf of the Rethink Plastic alliance, Friends of the Earth Europe’s Resource Justice Campaigner Meadhbh Bolger said: “The environment committee has recognised that the Commission’s plans to tackle plastic pollution must be strengthened to protect our oceans. Today’s vote gives a strong signal that more can and must be done to cut off the flood of plastics at source, and national governments across Europe must rise to the challenge.”

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

  • – A ban on microplastics in cosmetics, personal care, detergents and cleaning products by 2020, and minimum requirements to tackle other sources of microplastics
  • – A complete ban on oxo-degradable plastics – a source of microplastic pollution – by 2020 [1]
  • – A recognition that biodegradable and compostable plastics do not prevent plastic waste in our oceans and should not be an excuse to keep using single-use plastics
  • – Any financial contribution from taxing plastics should go towards preventing plastic waste generation
  • The reduction of hazardous substances in plastics, to ensure that what is recycled is free from dangerous chemicals [2]

Bolger continued: “There’s a lot of greenwashing going on to try and present bio-based and biodegradable plastics as a silver bullet – but this is a sideshow, distracting from the real solutions: reduction and reuse. Bio-based and biodegradable plastics pollute our beaches and seas just like conventional plastics, and should be treated as such. It is hugely positive that the Parliament acknowledges this.”

However, the environment committee failed to back measures to tackle pollution from industrially-produced plastic pellets, which are melted down to make everyday plastic items.  It also failed to support stronger economic incentives to reduce plastic production and consumption. [3]

The full European Parliament will vote in September on the environment committee’s response to the Commission’s proposal.

***

NOTES:

[1] Oxo-degradables plastics are supposedly biodegradable plastics, which in reality break down into small fragments and contribute to harmful microplastic pollution in the oceans and other ecosystems.

[2] The Environment Committee also reminded the Commission of the EU commitment laid down in the 7th Environmental Action Programme (https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32013D1386) for the development of non-toxic material cycles. This is fundamental to ensure that the circular economy is a success for the environment.

[3] Effective economic incentives would include Extended Producer Responsibility fees for all plastic and plastic containing items, not only for packaging as is in current law.

Plastic pollution: countries show their true colours on the International Plastic Bag Free Day

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Brussels, 3/07/2018

EU countries lag behind in phasing out single-use plastic bags and curbing plastic pollution, warned Surfrider Foundation Europe and Zero Waste Europe on the 9th International Plastic Bag Free Day.

According to the report Still Finding Excuses? Time for Europe to act against plastic bag pollution, released today by SFE with contributions from ZWE [1], on the implementation of the EU legislation on plastic bag reduction adopted in 2015, more than 18 months after the deadline for transposition the measures adopted remain largely insufficient in many Member States.

Justine Maillot, European Affairs Officer at Surfrider Foundation Europe, said: “In too many EU countries the measures adopted so far are at best half-hearted. There is no excuse for further delay. Governments must raise their level of ambition to match the urgency of the plastic pollution crisis and the concerns of EU citizens” [2].

Rather than banning single-use plastic bags, most countries have opted for either voluntary agreements with the retailers or for a charge on lightweight carrier plastic bags, which in some countries will only come into effect next year. Although a tax can have an impact on consumers behaviour, ZWE and SFE highlight how phasing out single-use plastic bags will require a restriction on the supply side. In addition, in many countries the charge is often too low, or limited to too few retailers, to really spur change. A lack of control and enforcement is also hindering real change on the ground.

“The lack of ambition from many governments is at odds with the commitments to tackle plastic pollution worldwide, and with the “race to the top” called for by the European Commission”, said Ariadna Rodrigo, Product Policy Campaigner at Zero Waste Europe [3]. For ZWE and SFE, this is also a missed opportunity, as where ambitious measures, such as bans, have been implemented, they have been successful in reducing plastic bags consumption and largely supported by citizens [4].

The report also highlights concerns regarding the exemption from any tax or restriction for very lightweight plastic bags, as well as bio-based and biodegradable bags. ZWE and SFE highlight how this constitutes a major contradiction in the fight against plastic bag pollution and throw-away culture, and emphasise that existing reusable alternatives, such as tote bags or baskets, must be prioritised.

SFE and ZWE, as members of the Break Free From Plastic global movement [5], call on Member States to urgently implement  the EU Plastic Bag Directive and put an end to plastic bag pollution, in line with the EU strategy on plastics and the promotion of a true circular economy.

Zero Waste Europe calls now on Member States to promptly transpose the adopted safeguards and to exclude any support for fuels from plastic, so as to ensure compliance with EU legislation.

***

NOTES:

[1] Still Finding Excuses? Time for Europe to act against plastic bag pollution, 2018, Surfrider Foundation Europe

[2] Eurobarometer October 2017 shows that 87% of EU citizens are worried about the impact of plastic on the environmenthttp://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/ResultDoc/download/DocumentKy/81259

[3] European strategy on plastics in a circular economy, published on 16 January 2018;

Proposal for a directive on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment, published on 28 May 2018

Early June, the Indian government pledged to ban all single-use plastics by 2022.

[4] In Italy, since the introduction of the ban in 2011, the consumption of plastic bags has reduced by more than 50%.

[5] Break Free From Plastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in September 2016, over 1,279 groups from across the world have joined the movement to demand massive reductions in single-use plastics and to push for lasting solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. These organisations share the common values of environmental protection and social justice, which guide their work at the community level and represent a global, unified vision.

European Commission steps forward to cut on single-use plastics – but it’s just the beginning

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Brussels, 28/05/2018

The European Commission has taken a leap forward in tackling plastic pollution, with new laws to reduce throwaway single-use plastics.

Speaking on behalf of Rethink Plastic, the Environmental Investigation Agency’s Sarah Baulch said: “The Commission has awakened to the call of European citizens to address the devastating impacts of plastic pollution on our environment. Phasing out unnecessary single-use plastic applications and those for which a sustainable alternative is already available is key to ensure a responsible use of plastics.”

The proposal, which is designed to prevent and reduce the impact of certain plastic products on the environment, and in particular the marine environment, sets a number of different policy measures to tackle these problematic single-use products, from bans and reduction efforts, to labelling and extended producer responsibility schemes [1].

However, the legislation fails to set specific EU-wide reduction targets for food containers and beverage cups, with a promise to look into this possibility only after a lengthy six years after transposition (circa 2027). This could result in countries claiming they are taking the necessary steps as long as any reduction is achieved, regardless of how small.

The same time period is also given for a review of the list of products the legislation addresses, with the possibility to expand it. This is vital to shorten to three years after transposition rather than six.

Baulch said: “Given the urgency and scale of the problem, the lack of specific reduction targets for Member States is alarming. We call on the European Parliament and EU Ministers to put in place such targets and set a shorter review period to ensure an effective and swift move beyond single-use plastics.”

The European Parliament and the Council of EU ministers will discuss and amend the legislative proposal in the coming months.

*** 

NOTES:
[1] The range of legislative measures includes:

  •  – A ban on single-use plastic straws, cutlery and plates, cotton buds and balloon sticks
  • – A requirement to achieve ‘significant’ reductions in the consumption of plastic food containers and cups within 6 years, through measures such as national consumption reduction targets, minimum reusable packaging targets, or ensuring such items are not provided free of charge
  •  – A 2025 target of 90% separate collection of plastic bottles, to be achieved through Extended Producer Responsibility schemes or the implementation of deposit return schemes
  •  – Detailed labelling on sanitary towels, wet wipes and balloons informing citizens of the negative environmental impact of inappropriate disposal
  •  – The introduction of Extended Producer Responsibility schemes for waste fishing gear, cigarette butts, beverage containers including lids and caps, food containers, lightweight plastic bags and wet wipes amongst others.

New tax on non-recycled plastic packaging waste will fail to address the plastic pollution crisis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Brussels, 02/05/2018

The European Commission has announced a plan to tax non-recycled plastic packaging waste today within the new EU budget – but this will fail to address the plastic pollution crisis, say the Rethink Plastic alliance.

The proposal, unveiled in the Multiannual Financial Framework, focuses on taxing the quantity of plastic packaging waste generated in each Member State that is not recycled, but does not include any incentive to encourage the reduction of plastic at source, nor for improved collection. Rather than making polluters pay by internalising the costs of plastic waste, Member States – hence taxpayers – will have to foot the bill for companies that continue to place plastics that are non-recyclable, or can only be downcycled to a lower value, on the market.

Surfrider Foundation Europe’s Justine Maillot, speaking on behalf of the Rethink Plastic, said: “With this tax, the Commission is going against the principles of the waste hierarchy, by prioritising recycling over prevention and reuse”.

Such an “end of life” economic incentive fails to tackle the existing obstacles to a circular economy for plastics, such as the low price of crude oil, encouraging companies to meet their supply chain demands with virgin plastic.

“Any tax on plastic should be applied to virgin plastic production, to make the price of recycled plastic competitive. It is high time the Commission starts creating the right economic incentives for companies to truly implement circular economy legislation through better product and packaging design”, added Justine Maillot.

The tax as it is designed also presents the following flaws:

  • It only covers plastic packaging, which represents just 40% of plastics placed on the market, and does not address all single-use plastic items of high pollution potential.
  • It relies on the information made available by producers via Extended Producer Responsibility schemes, where the data collected is not independently verified. In some cases, clear lack of data robustness has been detected [1].
  • Even if Member States meet the new plastic packaging recycling target of 55% by 2030 (as stipulated in the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive), they will still have to pay the tax.
  • There is no current definition of what is a recyclable plastic and what is not, hence leaving the door open for Member States to report what is recycled and not, as they wish.
  • The revenues raised will contribute to stimulate investment in recycling facilities – whilst this is important, the primary aim should be to stimulate investment further up the waste hierarchy such as plastic waste prevention measures and reuse systems.

For a plastic tax to truly disincentivise plastic pollution at source, the European Commission must design a tax at the EU-level on virgin plastics production.

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NOTES:
[1] The latest Member State where irregularities have been detected is the UK, but many other cases have been highlighted over the years. Eunomia (2018), Plastic packaging – shedding light on the UK data

Plastic packaging fails to prevent food waste, new study finds

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Brussels, April 10th 2018

A rise in plastic food packaging is failing to reduce Europe’s growing food waste problem, and in some cases may even be fueling it, according to pioneering new research. [1]

The study shows how annual per-capita use of plastic packaging has grown simultaneously with levels of food waste since the 1950s – now at 30kg and 173kg respectively. [2]

The review of available evidence published by Friends of the Earth Europe and Zero Waste Europe, on behalf of the Rethink Plastic alliance, also reveals that:

  • Big retailers are driving food and plastic packaging waste in Europe through practices such as food grading standards, and packaging food in multipacks and small format packs. One study showed that chopping green beans to fit plastic packaging resulted in 30-40% of the beans being wasted.
  • 37% of all food sold in the EU is wrapped in plastic – the most widely used packaging material.
  • The cost of food waste in the EU is estimated at €143 billion each year, equivalent to the annual operational budget of the EU.

Meadhbh Bolger, resource justice campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said: “The results are in: wrapping, bottling and packing food in plastic doesn’t systemically prevent food waste, and sometimes even causes it. It’s a red herring that’s causing terrible pollution of our land, sea and air. EU decision-makers need to listen to the growing public appetite to quit plastics, help Europe lead in adopting strict rules to limit throwaway plastics, and shift to localised food systems without disposable packaging.”

The study also highlights how the environmental impacts of plastics can be systematically underestimated when making policies which impact food packaging – including some in the new measures being developed by the European Commission to tackle plastic pollution. With the current use of the “Life Cycle Assessment” (LCA) methodology the Commission is leaving the door open to policies that fail to tackle plastic pollution. [3]

Ariadna Rodrigo, Sustainable Products Campaigner at Zero Waste Europe said “The packaging industry and the European Commission are not practicing sound decision making when it comes to food packaging. Their methodology, which often ignore the impacts of plastic waste, result in to conclusions that favour complex food packs which are impossible to reuse or recycle. The result is the promotion of plastic packaging designed for landfill and incineration.

The findings come as the European Commission prepares legislation to tackle plastic pollution, with a number of measures including a draft law on single-use plastics expected before the summer.

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NOTES

[1] A summary briefing of the report for media is available here. The full report is available here.

[2] The study shows how, between 2004 and 2014, household food waste in the EU doubled to an estimated 30 million tonnes per year. Plastic packaging waste increased by 50% over the same period, reaching over 15 million tonnes, although part of this may be attributable to new countries joining the EU The best-available data suggests around 40% of plastic packaging waste comes from food packaging.

[3] Analysis of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) tool – in principle, the most comprehensive framework in analysing and assessing the environmental impact of goods and services – shows that it commonly simplifies the drivers of food waste and overstates the benefits of plastic packaging. This includes focusing on carbon emissions as the key environmental impact, and assuming all plastics are recycled, incinerated or landfilled after use – not reflecting the reality on the ground, where recycling levels are hugely variable and often extremely low, and a substantial fraction of plastic packaging ends up leaked into the environment. It also routinely fails to look at package-free or reusable options, which the report shows are on the rise across Europe, albeit in need of political support.