Circular economy: Commission provides guidance for harmonized application of single-use plastic rules and advances in fishing gear surveillance – The European Sting – Critical News & Insights on European Politics, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Business & Technology



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This article is presented to you in association with the European Commission.


Today, the European Commission provides advice on the EU rules on single-use plastics and adopt a Execution decision on the control and declaration of fishing gear placed on the market and waste fishing gear collected. These rules aim to reduce marine litter from single-use plastic products and fishing gear and promote the transition to a circular economy with innovative and sustainable business models, products and materials.

Executive Vice President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans noted: “Reducing the use of single-use plastics helps protect the health of people and the planet. The rules of the European Union are a historic achievement in the fight against marine litter. They also stimulate sustainable business models and bring us closer to a circular economy where reuse precedes single use. This is the objective of the European Green Deal: to protect and restore our natural environment while encouraging companies to innovate.

Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius noted: “The negative impacts of plastic waste on the environment, on the oceans and marine life, and on our health are global and drastic. Plastic waste continues to accumulate and 11,000 tonnes of fishing gear are lost or dumped at sea in the EU each year, exacerbating the problem of ghost fishing. The rules to reduce plastic pollution are ambitious and respond to citizens’ calls for decisive action, making the EU a forerunner in the global fight against marine litter. Today, we are moving closer to tackling the severe impacts of single-use plastic products and abandoned fishing gear, and moving towards a more circular economy.

According to the 2019 EU rules on single-use plastics, by July 3 of this year, member states must ensure that certain single-use plastic products are no longer placed on the market in the world. ‘EU. These are select products for which affordable plastic-free alternatives exist on the market: cotton swabs, cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers, balloon sticks, as well as some styrofoam products (cups and food containers). and drinks) and all oxo-degradable plastic products. For other plastic products, such as fishing gear, single-use plastic bags, bottles, food and beverage containers for immediate consumption, packages and packaging, tobacco filters, sanitary ware and wet wipes, different measures apply. These include limiting their use, reducing their consumption and preventing waste through labeling requirements, extended producer responsibility programs (“polluter pays principle”), awareness campaigns and product design requirements.

The guidelines aim to ensure that the new rules are applied correctly and uniformly across the EU. Harmonized transposition into national law is important for the proper functioning of the internal market as regards the products covered by these rules. The guidelines explain key definitions and terms and have been developed following extensive consultations with Member States and interactions with a wide range of stakeholders.

The implementing decision on the control and declaration of fishing gear placed on the market and waste fishing gear collected allows Member States to fulfill their obligation to declare, from 2022, fishing gear containing plastic placed on the market and fishing gear collected at sea. The aim is to encourage the unloading of all fishing gear and to improve its handling by involving extended producer responsibility programs.

In addition, based on the data, Member States with marine waters will have to set, by 31 December 2024, a national minimum annual collection rate for waste fishing gear containing plastic for recycling, with a view to the establishment of a binding quantitative collection of the Union. targets. Abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear accounts for 27% of beach litter, according to the impact assessment of 2018, and a significant proportion of the fishing gear placed on the market is not collected for processing.

Background

With the Single-use plastics directive, the EU is reducing the amount of waste generated, tackling 10 plastic items and single-use fishing gear that make up most of the litter found on Europe’s beaches, and promoting the transition to a circular economy and sustainable alternatives.

Over 80% of marine litter is plastic. Single-use plastic products (SUPs) are used once, or for a short time, before they are thrown away. They are therefore more likely to end up in our seas than reusable options. Plastic accumulates in seas, oceans and on beaches in the EU and around the world, posing a serious risk to marine life and human health.

While plastics are a practical, useful and valuable material, plastic waste causes damage to the environment and has a negative impact on our economy. It damages activities such as tourism, fishing and shipping, and creates cleanup costs. Under the European Green Agreement, the EU is creating a circular economy, where plastics are used more sustainably, reused and recycled, and do not create waste or pollution.


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