Pandemic could hamper EU’s progress on reducing plastic waste
Share article:
Share article:

Pandemic could hamper EU’s progress on reducing plastic waste

© PxHere

The current pandemic of Covid-19 could hamper or even reverse progress made in the EU to reduce plastic waste, a new report from the Court of Auditors of the EU has warned.

Together with other problems, the Court says, that means the EU is at risk of missing its targets for the recycling of plastic waste by 2025 and 2030.

In the process of updating its plastic waste strategy of 2018, the EU has set new targets for the proportion of plastic waste being recycled to 50% by 2025, and 55% by 2030.

To meet its new recycling targets for plastic packaging, the EU must reverse the current situation, whereby we incinerate more than we recycle. This is a daunting challenge,” said Samo Jereb, the member of the court responsible for the review.

By resuscitating single-use habits amid sanitary concerns, the COVID pandemic shows that plastics will continue to be a mainstay of our economies, but also an ever-growing environmental threat.”

The EU faces two problems that are putting its targets at risk.

The first is that the rules on the reporting of recycling figures have been tightened, so that the numbers are more accurate, but also revised downwards.

The second problem is the introduction of a ban on the export of hazardous waste to other countries, as well as stricter conditions on the export of plastic waste, even for recycling.

Nearly a third of the EU’s reported plastic packaging recycling rate is achieved through shipments to non-EU countries for recycling,” the auditors report.

From January 2021, however, most plastic waste shipments will be banned. This, combined with the lack of capacity to treat this waste within the EU, constitutes another risk to achieving the new targets,” warn the auditors.

The new conditions are also likely to lead to an increase in illegal shipping and waste crime, against which the EU framework is too weak, the report says.

Finally, while the EU deals with one-third of its plastic waste by exporting it, the waste that is left is not being recycled very well.

Plastic packaging such as water bottles makes up about 40% of the plastic used in the EU, and 60% of plastic waste. But it is also the type of plastic with the lowest rate of recycling, at about 40%.

The EU’s ambition to improve its plastic packaging recycling reflects the scale of the environmental challenge that plastics pose,” the report concludes.

With its new approach, the EU has the opportunity to gain a first-mover advantage and reinforce its position as a global leader in plastic packaging recycling. However, given the challenges and gaps to be overcome, EU member states may not meet the new targets.”

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Limiting private contacts ‘needed to fight autumn wave’, expert warns
The Consultative Committee announced it is introducing a handful of measures in public spaces to control the quickening spread of the coronavirus, ...
After 5 rescues in 2 days, hundreds of migrants take shelter in Italy
After five rescues in less than two days, almost 400 migrants aboard the Geo Barents search and rescue ship in the Central Mediterranean, operated by ...
Belgian wind farm closed down to save migrants floating in sea
A wind farm near Zeebrugge had to be shut down on Wednesday morning as more than 25 migrants had been adrift in its vicinity off the Belgian coast ...
Cinemas will require Covid Safe Ticket from Friday
The Covid Safe Ticket (CST) will be required to attend cinemas across Belgium from Friday, which marks the start of the autumn holidays, the ...
UN issues strong warning ahead of climate change summit in Glasgow
New and updated climate commitments fall far short of what is needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, leaving the world on track for a ...
Disastrous year for Belgian beekeepers
Belgian beekeepers have experienced a disastrous year, with honey production 50 to 60 percent lower than last year due to heavy rainfall during ...
New measures for schools considered as situation becomes ‘untenable’
Belgium's various education partners met on Wednesday to discuss additional measures to implement in schools as the coronavirus situation worsens in ...
Belgium in Brief: Back To Masks
I really hope you didn't throw out all your masks. You'll be needing them again. Now I do appreciate that this isn't a huge change for ...
Belgium a climate slowcoach as EU reveals emissions progress
The European Union is on track to pass its first big climate test, according to new figures published this week. But Belgium has been singled out for ...
Belgium’s decision on possible third shot postponed until Saturday
The decision on how Belgium will proceed with the roll-out of third shots of the coronavirus vaccine has been postponed until Saturday.  The news ...
Experts and politicians respond to new coronavirus measures
The handful of measures (re-)introduced by Belgium's Consultative Committee on Tuesday in response to the worsening coronavirus situation have had a ...
New fraudulent e-mails circulating in Belgium
A warning has been put out about new phishing e-mails that have been circulating since last Saturday and are sent from what could appear to be an ...