Under pressure | EU negotiators try to reach agreement on the single-use plastics



When Collins Dictionary announced that its ‘word of 2018 was “single-use”, it summed up the striking way that the pressing need to tackle plastic over-use shot up the public agenda in recent years. Reducing single-use plastics has become urgent, to help protect the marine environment, tackle climate change, and move towards using far fewer resources, and it formed the centre-piece of the European Commission’s May 2018 proposal on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment’. At least partly due to public pressure and concern, member states such as France and the UK have also proposed additional national measures to tackle single-use plastics. And while none of these proposals are as radical as they need to be to significantly reduce dependence on plastic, they are nevertheless a positive step forward.

Industry is on the back foot as a result of these developments. It has opposed and worked to undermine action to cut back on plastics use for years, instead funding education and litter clean-up initiatives focussed on shifting the blame to citizens instead of the plastics industry. But now, decision-makers in the Brussels bubble are on the receiving end of serious, coordinated industry lobbying, which aims to undermine proposed action on single-use plastics. The Commission’s proposal will enter its second round of ‘trilogue’ negotiations on Wednesday, with the EU Council (member states) and the European Parliament (MEPs) racing to complete the process before the end of the Austrian rotating presidency of the Council of the EU on 31 December.

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