The European Commission continues to look for a long-term solution for the problem of huge plastic waste which is being stored within the Union’s territory.

The EC has already proposed that all plastic packaging on the EU market should be processed by 2030, the consumption of non-recyclable plastics to be reduced and the deliberate use of plastic micro-particles be limited, the institution’s press office announced. However, about €13 billion is necessary for the EU budget to develop the new strategy for combating plastic pollution. There is also a proposal for the taxation of using plastic that is not-recyclable by Member States. This is a type of sanction that has benefits for both – environmental policy and for the EU budget.

Over the past half a century, and mostly during the last decades, the production of plastic worldwide has increased steadily. In the period of 2002-2013, it increased by an average of 50% from 204 million tonnes to 299 million tonnes. This value is expected to continue to grow and to reach 500 million tonnes per year by 2020 – 900% more than in 1980.

It is Europe that plays a key role in the international plastic industry. It is the second largest plastic producer in the world, producing about 50 million tonnes per year. The most frequent use of plastic in the EU is for packaging: about 40 percent of the total plastic consumption. In this respect, many of the material produced is used to produce disposable products which rapidly lose their value by incineration in incinerators, landfilling in landfills and in their conversion into marine litter.

In Europe alone, only France and the United Kingdom have taken a step forward in the fight against microplastics. France is the first country to ban plastic instruments, containers and cups for disposable use until 2020, as well as to ban the use of microplastics in cosmetics and cleaning solutions since 2018.

Within the framework of the new strategy, the European Union will try to make recycling more cost-effective for businesses and to give momentum to investment and innovation in the area. At the moment, Malaysia, Vietnam, Turkey, India and Indonesia account for about 60 per cent of European waste, but surpluses are being stored in the EU and data so far show that there is no increased interest in them.

In 2017, one tonne of plastic waste for export, which has up to 20 per cent pollutants of the type of paper labels on bottles, was sold for 25-40 pounds. A year later, the price has jumped to 40-60 pounds and it is not easy to find one to buy it.

With the collection of larger quantities of plastic, Brussels will try to create improved and expanded recycling facilities as well as a better and standardised system for separate collection and sorting of waste across the EU. This will save about a hundred euros per tonne of collected quantity.