EU Regulation on preventing plastic pellet losses needs mandatory requirements for all operators to reduce microplastic pollution

Plastic pellets, whether derived from virgin material, recycled sources or biomass, constitute the primary building blocks for the majority of plastic products. The European Commission’s Proposal for a Regulation on preventing pellet losses to reduce microplastic pollution represents a necessary step towards addressing plastic pollution and the associated harms to human health and the environment. Plastic pellets, flakes, dust and powders are tiny and hazardous microplastics spilled and lost across the plastic supply chain, contributing to widespread, chronic and avoidable pollution impacting every EU country surveyed1. Effectively preventing pellet loss requires a comprehensive supply chain approach, applying measures to all operators at every stage of the supply chain.

Prevention and reuse – the only solution to record levels of packaging waste

Levels of packaging waste in Europe are at an all-time high. Over the last decade, its growth
outpaced the economy rising faster than the volume of traded goods. The latest Eurostat data
on packaging waste, published in October 2023, reaffirms this upward trajectory with a new
record of 188.7 kg per capita in 2021 – a 6% increase in waste generation in only one year.
The same data also reveals that recycling rates have stagnated since 2010. The packaging
sector is now responsible for approximately 59 million tonnes in CO2eq, more than the annual
emissions of Hungary. Packaging is also a major driver of virgin resources exploitation – using
40% of plastic and 50% of paper in Europe.

Disposable Paper-based Food Packaging. The false solution to the packaging waste crisis.

A new report by the Rethink Plastic Alliance, European Environmental Bureau, Zero Waste Europe, Fern and the Environmental Paper Network reveals the environmental harm caused by replacing single-use plastic with single-use paper packaging. The report clearly shows the need to move away from ever-polluting single-use packaging and towards well-designed reuse systems. The NGO coalition calls on the EU to seize the opportunity the Packaging and Packaging Waste regulation offers, and implement the necessary changes.

Open Letter calling for well-designed reuse systems in the PPWR revision

We, the signatories of this letter (civil society organisations and reuse businesses across Europe), are concerned that misinformation and intense lobbying from the single-use packaging industry and the take-away sector are undermining the need for reuse as a driver for waste prevention, resource
conservation and climate protection in the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR).

This regulation represents a critical opportunity for the much-needed transition towards more circular
packaging systems at a time where it is crucial to tackle emissions, pollution and resource use in all
sectors. The focus of decision-makers should remain firmly on the key objective of the PPWR,
which is reducing packaging waste and improving the environmental performance of this increasingly wasteful sector.

Tiny Plastic, Big Problem. Recommendations for Effective EU Plastic Pellet RegulationsTiny Plastic, Big Problem.

The exponential expansion of the production of raw plastic materials since 2005 has resulted in
increased waste generation and over 170 trillion plastic particles in the world’s oceans. Virtually all plastic products are derived from plastic pellets, flakes and powders (hereinafter referred to simply as
pellets), meaning the transboundary shipment of pellets has also drastically expanded. Due to pellets’
size and current handling across the supply chain, they often end up in the environment and are one of
the largest sources of primary microplastic pollution. In response, the European Union (EU) should take
all necessary steps to regulate plastic pellets across the plastic supply chain and effectively reduce the
amount of pellets that end up in the environment.