Every year, Europeans generate 25 million tonnes of plastic waste, but less than a third (30 per cent) of it is recycled. Plastics make up around 85 per cent of beach litter worldwide.
The European Union has banned all non-recyclable plastic waste from being shipped to non-OECD and developing countries effective 1 January 2021.
A large quantity of plastic that is sent to the Global South is not properly treated and often ends up in a landfill, the ocean, or incinerated because these countries do not have the capacity to sustainably treat plastic waste.
Under the new rules, only ‘clean plastic waste’ that is recyclable should be exported to non-OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. In addition, stricter measures have been adopted on the export of plastic waste from the EU to OECD countries and intra-EU shipments of plastic waste.
“These new rules send a clear message that in the EU we are taking responsibility for the waste we generate,” says Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius.
“This is an important milestone in fighting plastic pollution, transitioning to a circular economy, and achieving the aims of the European Green Deal.”